Dogs do not have the same nutritional requirements as humans. Therefore it is not good for him to be fed the same food as us. His daily food should be the correct balance of nutrients essential for health, whilst considering the specific requirements of the breed, size, age and activity. Achieving this balance is described as Health Nutrition.
Humans are omnivores and are adapted to eat a variety of of foods such as meat, vegetables and fruit. The dog is semi carnivorous and has a much more limited intestinal flora which makes it less able to tolerate and utilise such a varied diet. It is therefore a big mistake to feed our dogs as we do ourselves.
The dog’s diet must satisfy all his basic needs, without any deficiency or excess, to ensure he stays fit and full of energy; in addition Health Nutrition will meet the nutritional requirements of his size, his age, his physiological condition (neutered/ entire) and his activity. There are nearly 400 breeds all with individual characteristics.
The weight and size range through the different dog breeds is one of the largest in the animal kingdom. It goes from the Chihuahua weighing 1kg to the Saint Bernard weighing 100kg or more. This range results in morphological, physiological, metabolic and behavioural differences, with major implications for their diet. The higher the adult dog’s weight is, the lower the energy requirement per kilogram is. A small breed dog should receive a food with a higher energy (and fat) concentration, than a medium breed dog. In large breed dogs, an increased energy density means a lower meal volume; this prevents overloading their proportionally smaller digestive system and helps guard against serious disorders such as gastric torsion. The kibble shape and texture should also be suited to the size, shape and strength of jaws to ensure proper prehension and encourage crunching.
An active working dog will not have the same nutritional requirements as a town dog going out on a leash just twice a day.
A pregnant bitch has increased protein, energy and mineral requirements from as early as the 6th week of gestation. Lactation causes again a considerable increase in her nutritional requirements as she feeds her puppies. A 25kg bitch with 6 puppies will reach maximum production of around 2 litres a day, when her puppies are around three weeks old. A very specific diet is required to meet these needs.
Certain dogs, especially small breeds, can have have an essentially "Indoor" lifestyle. The risk of excess weight gain needs to be considered in these dogs as they have little opportunity to expend their energy. The owner may also be tempted to spoil his pet with treats which will cause nutritional imbalances. A Health Nutrition food suited to these indoor MINIS and fed in the recommended quantities, will reduce this risk and help maintain a healthy weight. As for treats, a portion of the daily Health Nutrition diet should be set aside for this purpose.
When the dog is fully mature but before being classed as 'senior', we should consider feeding a Health Nutrition food that will help maintain vitality and fight against the effects of cell aging.
At 75 to 80% of total life expectancy, we can consider the dog as being 'senior'. Health Nutrition may have a preventive role in many chronic diseases associated with ageing, or help limit the clinical signs. Vitamins E and C, taurine, lutein and betacarotenes help support the natural defences of the aged dog when they are included in the right quantities. The essential fatty acids in fish oil (omega 3) and borage oil (omega 6) contribute to maintaining joint, skin and coat health.
Senior dogs do not all have the same requirements. The diet of the senior dog in good health will be different from that of the sick senior dog. Regular veterinary examinations are important. They aim at detecting early possible disease in the liver, kidneys, heart and other organ systems.