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Before learning about dog food nutrients you first need to know some basic dog stuff. What is a dog anyway? Is it a domesticated wolf? A four-pawed friend of the house? Can he just join for dinner? What are your dog's nutritional needs? Which dog food nutrients are supplied via the dog food we buy?
A dog is usually pictured as a carnivore, a 100% flesh eater. His digestive tract is relatively short and unable to digest plant material properly. His teeth are sharp to kill prey and tear apart the meat. But he is also opportunistic and will, if required, adjust his menu to what is available. For now, let's say it is a carnivore, but definitively not an obligate one.
The bottom line however is very straight forward. Your tail-wagger needs dog food that consists of the following seven groups of nutrients.
Does this sound familiar? Isn't this the same as what your body needs? But wait… hold on… before you invite your dog to join you at the dinner table and enjoy your home-cooked or take-away meals together (never mind how cosy this may sound to you), you may want to have a look at the differences between the two of you.
Let's not go into the obvious as to who has the most hair, runs the fastest, has the sharpest teeth or snores the loudest… No, let's be serious for a while and focus on the required food nutrients and the difference in digestive systems. An understanding of dog digestion will help you later on.
The differences between you and your dog make you for example enjoy chocolate but your dog could die from eating the same candy bar! So in addition to what your dog should eat, I'll also inform you about the things he definitely should NOT eat, the poisonous ingredients for canines.
Fine tuning your dog's nutritional needs is a complex matter. Many different theories, opinions, perspectives and views exist as to what are the essential dog food nutrients. It seems as to every plus side there is a down side. The basics seem to be clear though. One simple thing to look for when buying dog food is the AAFCO Food Trial testing standard statement on the label (for US packaged products). This will assure the product meets the minimum standards set for dog food nutrition.
There is no single kind of dog food that will suit all makes and models.
Your dog may not be your best adviser as he will try to train you to give him what he wants instead of what he needs. In this respect he's a bit like a little child wanting to eat fries and burgers every day. So it might be a good idea for you to take control over the canine menu of the day.
However, don't completely rule out your dog's taste. Dogs are individuals and may have different preferences. You may choose the best balanced food with the best digestible dog food nutrients, but if your furry buddy refuses to eat it it's nutrition-wise of no value.
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