A balanced, nutrient-rich diet is essential to your dog’s health and longevity. Unless your dog has a special condition, most commercial pet foods will provide what he needs. If your veterinarian suspects that your dog has any deficiencies or special needs, they will be able to recommend a food better suited to your dog.
However, even if you have a dog with no special dietary requirements, dogs at different stages of life require different nutrition. Your puppy will require more food than your adult dog, and your senior dog may require food containing extra vitamins and minerals, such as glucosamine.
Your dog requires six types of nutrients to stay strong and healthy:
Water: Water should be available to your pet at all times.
Proteins: Can be found in meat. Incomplete proteins can be found in vegetables, cereals, and soy. Your dog requires complete proteins. He should not consume raw egg.
Fats: Essential for energy, hormone production, and the absorption of some vitamins.
Carbohydrates: Essential for energy, healthy digestion, and reproduction. Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that can help manage issues like diarrhea, but too much fiber can slow down young dogs and puppies.
Vitamins: Unless your dog has been diagnosed with a vitamin deficiency, do not give your dog vitamin supplements. It’s surprisingly easy for a dog to overdose on vitamins. As long as you provide your dog with a balanced diet, he should be getting everything he needs.
Minerals: Must come from your dog’s diet. These help ensure strong bones, teeth, fluid maintenance, and a healthy metabolism.
If You are Weaning a Puppy
Puppies don’t need anything but their mother’s milk (or a specially-formulated milk replacement) for the first four weeks. After this time, a young puppy will need high-quality puppy food, which can be softened using warm water or a milk replacement. Ask your vet about your breed’s specific needs, but generally speaking, puppies will need foods that contain 25-30% protein. Do not overfeed in an attempt to accelerate a puppy’s growth rate. This could lead to health problems.