6 Essential Nutrients for a Healthy Dog

There are six key nutrients essential for dog health. Knowing what they are and where to find them, can help boost your pet’s health...

Everything that lives needs a wide variety of nutrients to ensure health and survival. In the case of humans and animals, there are several major classes: water, fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. By taking the time to understand dog nutrition and the six essential nutrients your dog needs, you will be able to take even better care of your pet.

1. Water

This first nutrient – although tasteless and colourless – is the most essential to life. Without water, life cannot exist. It’s necessary for many important processes, such as helping regulate body temperature, cushioning the nervous system and organs, flushing waste, and dissolving and transporting nutrients to the cells.

A dog’s water requirements vary depending on their overall health, level of activity, and the temperature of their surrounding environment. All dogs should have easy access to fresh, clean water.

2. Fat

Although fat has a bad reputation, so-called ‘good’ fats complete necessary functions such as regulating body temperature and promoting a healthy nervous system. Perhaps the most important role they play is to provide essential Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. You can ensure your dog is receiving enough fats by feeding them low-mercury fish, or dog food that contains the essential, good fats.

3. Protein

Like fats and carbohydrates, protein is also a macronutrient, meaning that it supplies energy. The body can’t store protein, and because of this, your dog will need a constant dietary supply, from sources such as fish, eggs, beans, and lean meats.

Proteins provide essential amino acids that give the body structure, antibodies, and enzymes to keep your dog’s body running optimally. It also provides strength to hair, nails, muscles, and bones. Growing puppies and pregnant female dogs require double the amount of protein a healthy adult dog does.

4. Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are also a macronutrient, composed of starches, sugars, and indigestible fibre. Carbohydrates are the main source of glucose, which is the 'fuel' that a body runs on. Carbohydrates are the only nutrient class not essential for dogs because they can create their glucose from sufficient protein and fat.

5. Vitamins

Vitamins are the fifth nutrient that contributes to a healthy dog. The only way for vitamins to be present in sufficient quantities is through diet since there is no way for the body to make vitamins itself. Vitamins play many roles, including critical ones such as maintaining nervous system function and causing blood clotting.

6. Minerals

In order for your dog’s body to maintain healthy metabolic functions, it needs minerals, which are only accessible from eating mineral-rich foods. Among other functions, minerals help to heal cuts or wounds, carry oxygen around the body, and make up a major portion of bones. There are many different minerals available in various foods. For example, meat is rich in phosphorus and bone contains calcium.

By making sure your canine companion receives all of these key nutrients in their diet, you’ll ensure they stay happy and healthy and live longer.