The Power of Dog Food

Why You Need to Consider What’s in Your Dog’s Bowl

We’ve known for a long time that diet is important, but every day we are discovering just how much nutrition underpins everything. Getting your dog’s food right can help fix minor health ailments, such as tear staining and itchy skin, right through to helping stop unwanted behaviours, like destructiveness and humping.

This is because the gastrointestinal tract is at the heart of all living processes. What gets absorbed from your dog’s food affects their immune system, their inflammatory response, even their happiness! It impacts every cell in their body, and this means it controls both their physical and their mental well-being.

Teddy loves his highly nutritious puppy food from Essential

The importance of macronutrients

Protein

Protein is vital for the generation of new cells and the repair of old ones. It’s used by your dog’s body to create and strengthen muscles, organs, and other tissues, as well as to create hormones. When your dog doesn’t get enough protein, they’re likely to lose weight, lose muscle tone, have dry and brittle fur, and show a change in mood and behaviour. If your dog gets too much protein, it is broken down and passed out the body. If your dog’s wee turns your grass yellow, it may be that they have too much nitrogen in their wee, which is a result of eating too much protein. Equally, their poo may be extra smelly. All of this work also taxes their kidneys, which is why dogs with kidney issues need to be fed lower-protein diets.

However, it’s not as simple as just looking for a certain amount of protein in your dog’s food: it’s the quality more than the quantity of the protein that matters. It’s always preferable to feed a diet that provides protein from fresh meat or meat meals, rather than soya meal, vegetable proteins, or maize gluten.

Carbohydrate

The main purpose of carbohydrates is to give your dog energy. This helps with keeping them active, but also makes sure that all of their cellular processes, essential for a good life, can continue. Carbs can be split into three groups: simple sugars (monosaccharides), disaccharides, and polysaccharides.

Glucose is the most notable of the monosaccharides and is the most prevalent carbohydrate in the body. It’s also the first port of call for the body when it needs to create energy.

Lactose is the main disaccharide and is found in milk. Contrary to popular belief, most dogs are not lactose-intolerant, and can handle lactose up to a quantity of 2g lactose per kilogram of the dog’s weight. However, this is not commonly found in dog food as it isn’t needed for a healthy lifestyle.

Polysaccharides are things like starch, glycogen, and fibre. Starch is the most common polysaccharide in pre-formulated dog food, as it is found in cereals such as corn, wheat, and rice. Glycogen, however, is the most common in the body, as it is one of the ways glucose is stored for later use. Dietary fibre is found in plant matter, and it just as important as it promotes the transit of food through your dog’s gut – stopping them from getting bunged up! It’s also incredibly useful to combat diarrhoea, as it absorbs excess water in the gut and helps provide a firm stool.

If your dog isn’t getting enough carbohydrates, they will likely become lethargic, lose weight, and their body will become sluggish in every aspect. However, if your dog gets too much in the way of carbs, they will quickly pile on the pounds, and will likely have too much energy. This can lead to a whole host of behavioural issues, such as destructiveness, excessive mouthing, and being seemingly ‘out of control’. As a behaviourist, I see a lot of dogs whose behaviour can be helped by improving their diet – and this often means dialling down their carbohydrate intake!

Fat

Whilst we all know that fats are incredibly energy-rich, and can lead to weight gain in high amounts, unsaturated fats are important for a huge part of a dog’s health. Certain fats, such as omega-3 and omega-6, help with blood clotting, inflammation, regulating body temperature, maintaining a healthy skin and coat, and brain and nervous system development and maintenance. They’re also important building blocks for some hormones, which underpin a huge range of bodily functions. Look out for fish oils or lecithin in your dog’s food, as this is a good sign that your dog will reap these benefits.

However, saturated and hydrogenated fats can increase blood pressure, increase cholesterol levels, and promote heart disease. For this reason, these fats should be limited in your dog’s food. A lot of manufacturers use vague terms to disguise these fats, such as “fats and oils” or “animal fats”, so look out for these as they are often red flags.

 

Micronutrients matter

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals that are present in food. There are a huge range of each, and each one serves important purposes in the body, ranging from healing wounds to protecting brain function. Just as with macronutrients, both under- and over-provision of these can have huge consequences. It’s also important to consider the ratios across these micronutrients, as this can often impact their uptake and function in the body.

When you start to look into the nutrition you provide your dog, it can often feel overwhelming, and it’s hard to know where to start. This is why at Your Dog’s Club we’re dedicated to helping you get it right, without the stress that comes with that responsibility.

We offer FREE nutrition consults with our friendly and knowledgeable team, who will work with you to get the right diet for you and your dog. If you’d like to book one of these, simply email woof@yourdogsclub.co.uk, and we’ll set one up!

Nutrition

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