The six basic nutrients are water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. These essential nutrients are required as part of the dog’s regular diet and are involved in all of the basic functions of the body.
As a species, the dog is a member of the scientific order Carnivora, a large group of mammalian animals that share a similar tooth structure. The dietary needs of animals belonging to this order vary. Some members of this group have an absolute requirement for meat in their diet (called obligate or true carnivores), while others can meet their nutrient requirements through eating plant material (herbivores) or a combination of meat and plants (omnivores). Cats are an example of an obligate carnivore, cows are an example of an herbivore, and dogs and humans are two examples of omnivores.
Fruits and Vegetables Dogs Can or Can’t Eat
It’s not uncommon to want to spoil your dog by sharing table scraps or your favorite snack. After all, if it is safe for you to eat, it must be OK for them to eat, right?
Not necessarily. While many human foods are perfectly safe for dogs, some are very unhealthy and downright dangerous, so it’s critical to learn which fruits and vegetables dogs can eat.
Dogs digest differently than humans do, and eating the wrong foods can lead to long-term health problems and, in extreme cases, even death. As carnivores, they have no real need for fruits and vegetables as part of their diet, but an occasional fruit or veggie as a treat is OK.
Read on to find out which fruits and vegetables are OK for sharing in moderation and which should be avoided.
I was told that dogs cannot digest carbohydrates. Is this true?
To meet their energy needs, dogs have evolved to use proteins and fats as their primary energy sources, but they can also use carbohydrates for energy.
The fact that the dog’s digestive system produces enzymes that are specific for digesting starches and sugars shows that they are capable of digesting carbohydrates.
However, complex carbohydrates such as grains are more digestible when they are cooked.
How often should I feed my dog?
The biological evolution of dogs as hunters has given them specialised digestive and gastrointestinal adaptations that allow them to ingest a large meal followed by up to days of not eating. However, for most pet dogs, feeding once or twice per day is recommended. Many dogs will benefit from eating equally divided meals two to three times per day.
Regardless of the feeding schedule you choose, avoid allowing your dog to exercise vigorously after consuming a large meal, especially if your dog eats its food rapidly.
This will help minimise problems with bloat, intestinal obstruction, or other serious digestive disorders.
B Vitamins are a group of important vitamins that play a role in your dog’s health.
- Thiamine helps regulate energy and carbohydrate metabolism, and activates ion channels in neural tissue.
- Riboflavin, B12, and niacin help facilitate enzyme function.
- Vitamin B6 is especially vital. This vitamin is responsible for glucose generation, red blood cell and nervous system function, hormone regulation, immune response, niacin synthesis, and gene activation.
Pantothenic acid helps with energy metabolism.
Folic acid plays a role in amino acid and nucleotide metabolism and in mitochondrial protein synthesis.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant. It scavenges potentially harmful free radicals in the body and can help reduce inflammation and cognitive ageing. Dogs can actually synthesize vitamin C on their own in their livers, but in some cases supplementation may offer health benefits.
Vitamin D or the “sunshine vitamin,” allows your dog’s body to balance minerals like phosphorous and calcium for healthy bone growth. Without it, your dog would not be able to develop properly or maintain healthy muscles and bones.
Vitamin E is one of your dog’s defences against oxidative damage. This fat-soluble vitamin is also essential for cell function and fat metabolism. Deficiencies can lead to eye and muscle degeneration and reproductive problems.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin instrumental in activating your dog’s blood’s ability to clot. Ingestion of certain rat and mouse poisons inhibit dogs’ ability to use the vitamin K in their bodies, which leads to hemorrhaging and death if not treated.
Choline is a necessary component of the phospholipid cell membrane. It supports healthy brain and liver function, and is occasionally used as part of a treatment plan for pets with epilepsy.