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Nutrition Adult Dog

Nutrition Adult Dog

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Published by: AB on Jun 27, 2012
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Veterinary Teaching Hospital540-231-4621
VMRCVM Veterinary Teaching Hospital Client Information Handout Page 1
Nutrition for the Adult Dog
 
Dogs exhibit omnivorous feeding behavior and therefore their diet should be comprised of proteins,carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water in the correct proportions. A dog food that meetsthese requirements is called a “Complete” or “Balanced” diet. The amount of food a dog requiresdepends on the animal’s age, breed, gender, activity, temperament, environment and metabolism.
Proteins
Comprised of 23 different amino acids, proteins are often called the “building blocks” of the tissues. Thedog’s body can manufacture 13 of these amino acids. The other 10 amino acids, however, must comefrom dietary meat and plant sources and are called the “essential amino acids”.The biological value of a protein is a measure of that protein’s ability to supply amino acids, particularlythe 10 essential amino acids, and to supply these amino acids in the proper proportions. In general,animal proteins (meat, by-product meal) have higher biological value than vegetable proteins (soybeanmeal, corn gluten meal).
Fats
Fats are used to supply energy, essential fatty acids, and transport the fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E andK. In addition, fats make a diet more palatable to a dog.Fats help to maintain a healthy skin and haircoat. However, if a dog’s diet is very high in fat it mayresult in the dog eating an excessive amount of energy that may predispose to weight gain and obesity.If the fat becomes rancid, it destroys Vitamins E and A, and linoleic acid, leading to deficiencies ofthese essential nutrients. Commercial dog foods contain special natural or synthetic additives called“antioxidants” to prevent fat rancidity and prolong shelf-life.
Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates provide energy and are made up primarily of sugars, starches and cellulose (fiber).Carbohydrates are supplied in the diet from plant sources such as grains and vegetables. The sugarsare 100 percent digestible. Starches, which are the largest part of most plant carbohydrates, need to becooked before they can be digested and utilized by the dog. Cellulose is not digestible, but it is used forits fiber content in the diet, which helps prevent constipation, diarrhea and maintain gastrointestinalhealth.Carbohydrates are a direct source of energy and are also protein-sparing nutrients. Withoutcarbohydrates and fats, the dog’s body must convert protein to glucose to obtain energy; consequently,these proteins are no longer available for the building and maintenance of lean body tissues.
 
 
Veterinary Teaching Hospital540-231-4621
VMRCVM Veterinary Teaching Hospital Client Information Handout Page 2
Vitamins
Vitamins are necessary for many of the body’s chemical reactions. Fat-soluble Vitamins A, D, E and Kneed fat in the diet to be absorbed by the body. The B-complex vitamins dissolve in water and arereadily absorbed by the body. Vitamin C also dissolves in water, but it is not needed in the canine dietbecause dogs can make it themselves. “Complete” and “Balanced” commercial dog foods don’t needadditional vitamin supplementation for most normal dogs.
Minerals
Minerals are needed by the body for structural building and chemical reactions. Like vitamins, mineralsare supplied in the correct proportions in “Complete” and “Balanced” commercial dog foods. Damagecan be done by over supplementation. This is particularly true for calcium and phosphorus, because theproportions of these two minerals must be supplied to the dog in the proper ratios for nutritional health.
Water
Water is the most important nutrient for all animals. Healthy dogs regulate their water intake so long asclean and fresh water is always available. A dog can lose all its body fat and half of its protein andsurvive; but if it loses only one-tenth of its water, the dog may not survive.
Feeding a Balanced Diet
Dogs require a diet that regularly includes proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and waterfor proper nutrition. Of equal importance is the balance of these nutrients in the diet. A
commercialdog food
is the most convenient method of ensuring a dog receives these ingredients in correctproportions.
Choosing a Commercial Dog Food
Pet food manufacturers have developed foods that may safely be given as a dog’s sole diet withoutsupplementation. Such foods can be identified by the words “complete and balanced nutrition” on thelabel. These claims are regulated by federal and state agencies.The product may simply be formulated to meet the expected nutritional needs of dogs in a given stageof life or the product can be chemically analyzed to be sure all the expected nutrients are present. Ifthese methods are used to justify that claim of “complete and balanced” nutrition, the dog food labelshould include a statement that the nutritional adequacy is based on a comparison to known nutritionalstandards. Look for these words on such products: “Meets the nutritional requirements of dogsestablished by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).” Feeding a dog a productthat does not have a nutritional claim on the label cannot guarantee a complete and balanced diet forthe animal.Alternative and preferred method to verify the nutritional adequacy of a commercial food is throughactual feeding trials. While exact wording will vary, pet foods which have been tested in this way should
 
 
Veterinary Teaching Hospital540-231-4621
VMRCVM Veterinary Teaching Hospital Client Information Handout Page 3
state the following on the label: “Complete and balanced nutrition for dogs based on AAFCO feedingtrials.” It is best to look for these words when selecting a dog food.Complete and balanced dog foods most commonly come in three forms: dry, soft-moist, and canned.All contain the essential nutrients the dog needs – the primary difference is the amount of water in theproduct. Canned foods are sometimes more palatable, while dry foods are more economical to feed.After selecting a dog food, the final and most effective evaluation is accomplished by feeding your dogthe food and judging the results. Frequently changing from one palatable food to another maycontribute to a finicky eater or to obesity. If your dog thrives and looks healthy when fed this foodexclusively, then this is the best test that can be given in evaluating a dog food.After selecting a dog food from the dry, semi-moist, or canned varieties that states “complete andbalanced nutrition based on AAFCO feeding trials” on the label, it is best not to add any vitamin ormineral supplements or table scraps to the diet. Additional vitamins and minerals may lead to excessesor an unbalanced diet. Only use supplements when they are recommended by your veterinarian.
Feeding a complete balanced diet for the given life stage with fresh water is all most dogs needto stay nutritionally healthy.Stage-of-Life Commercial Dog Foods
Many commercial dog foods are designated for particular stages of a dog’s life. Such diets have beendeveloped for groups such as pregnant and nursing bitches, working dogs, and older dogs that mayhave special nutritional needs. This designation can be found on the label. Dog foods designated for aparticular stage of a dog’s life that are labeled “Complete” or “Balanced” will fulfill these specificnutritional requirements.Some commercial dog foods are designated as “All-purpose” foods on the label. These products mustprovide adequate nutrients to support the most demanding lifestages (growth, lactation). Thus, all-purpose foods may not be appropriate for adult and geriatric dogs due to the excessive levels of certainnutrients and energy.
Treats
Treats, snacks and human food should be limited in dog’s diet. In general, dietary balance ismaintained when less than 10% of the daily intake consists from treats (snacks, human foods) and thereminder is a complete and balanced food. Excess treat intake may interfere with normal appetite,dietary balance and can contribute to obesity.
Feeding Management and Monitoring
A new food should be selected for the stage-of-life (adult, senior) and activity level (performance or lowactivity-obese prone) of the dog. Food selected should also have passed AAFCO feeding trials for adultdogs.

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