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Dog Nutrition, Dog Vitamins, & Dog Diet

Pet food Recall on MSNBC.

The Importance of Dog Nutrition

Lucky Dog Health is here for the purpose of providing complete, unbiased information about all things related to your dog’s health. Above all else that you learn from your time here, the most important information you can take away will be the importance of nutrition in maintaining a healthy life and preventing dog disease. Everything from behavioral problems, to skin diseases, to digestive problems can trace back to elements of nutrition in the diet. Whether you are a new dog owner looking to navigate your way through the dog food maze at the local grocery store or a concerned owner looking to improve your dog’s quality of life or even fight disease by changing his nutritional intake and activity level, our comprehensive nutrition section will provide the answers you are looking for.

A Healthy Dog is a Good Dog

First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Other than providing a safe and loving home environment, feeding Fido a healthy, balanced diet is the most basic and necessary component for his health and well-being. Is your dog lethargic, stiff, hyper, week, or weepy? Is his skin or hair dry? Is he excessively thirsty or hungry? All of these dog ailments relate back to the amount and quality of the food he is served. While they can be symptoms of more extreme conditions, even the most dire of circumstances can be helped by paying special attention to your dog’s diet. Our domestic dogs rely on us to provide them with foods that nourish and strengthen their bodies and minds. Read on to learn what a balanced canine diet is made up of and how to pick and improve upon commercial pet foods. Fight obesity, malnutrition, and vitamin and mineral deficiency by learning how to incorporate just what your pet needs to become and remain happy and healthy.

Real World Dog Nutrition Solutions

Okay. Okay. We know that, if you are like most concerned pet owners, you don’t have time to cook three square meals a day for your dog and you refuse to spend more money on his food than you do on your own. We also know, however, that you are most likely confused and even angry at the duplicitous and often contradictory information you receive about what exactly you should be feeding him. Head to the nearest pet store and you will be barraged with a plethora of different brands that boast “All Natural”, “Organic”, or even “Value”. Add to these the number of specialty dog diets such as raw foods diets, frozen foods diets, vegetarian diets, and even vegan diets are plentiful. Many of these have benefits and downfalls, but some are downright dangerous. Lucky Dog Health is here to provide you with applicable information that will help you make informed decisions about your dog’s diet that work with your lifestyle.

Variety: the Spice of a Balanced Dog Diet

Here is some good basic information that any dog owner should know when embarking on a journey to provide their dog with an affordable, fast, nutritious, and balanced diet. While the domesticated dog’s ancestors subsisted on raw meat either freshly caught or found, thousands of years of domestication have structured their nutritional needs so that they benefit from a wide variety of foods. Your dog’s nutritional needs are similar but not identical to your own. A balanced canine diet consists of Proteins, Carbohydrates, Fats, Vitamins, and Minerals. The meal plan guide below will help you to understand the structure of a balanced dog diet.

Dog Meal Plan Guide

Food Amount Found Naturally In:
Proteins 30% - 60% of volume meat, beans, eggs, nuts, small amounts in carbohydrates
Carbohydrates 30% - 60% of volume rice, corn, potatoes, rolled oats, barley, whole grain bread
Fats 1 tsp - 1 Tbsp per day oils (fish, flax, canola, and olive are recommended)

The vitamins and minerals your dog needs to enjoy optimum health resemble your own, however they are needed in different amounts. Also, because of the many variations within the canine species (think of a Chihuahua and a Great Dane), dosage will vary widely. Because of this fact, the best way to stave off deficiencies in any one area is to feed your dog a variety of vitamin-packed foods. See the chart below to discover the most important vitamins for your dog and learn which common foods provide them.

Important Dog Vitamins

Vitamin Found Naturally In: Signs of Deficiency:
Vitamin A dairy products, eggs, liver, fish oils skin diseases, dry eyes, night blindness
Vitamin B Whole grains, dairy products, green vegetables, nuts, beans, liver, yeast appetite and weight loss; growth, skin, and muscle problems; diarrhea
Vitamin C fruits, vegetables, organ meats N/A
Vitamin D fish, fish oils, egg yolks, dairy products, beef, livers bone problems including osteoporosis
Vitamin E grains, bran, wheat germ, seeds, vegetable oil skin, muscle, and immune system problems
Vitamin K fish, liver, leafy greens, seeds, alfalfa blood clotting problems

Dog Food in the Real World

Now that you know a bit more about what your dog’s needs are, it is time to address the way those needs get met at large – through the commercial dog food market. Naturally, every pet food manufacturer that you come across will claim to provide a nutritious diet for your pet. The American Association of Feed Control Officials (the AAFCO) measures and approves the minimum nutritional adequacy of animal food products. To become AAFCO approved, a dog food must contain approved percentages of protein and fat. They must also provide a minimum amount of certain fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins and minerals. Recently, because of the growing instance of obesity in domesticated dogs, they have added maximum amounts to some of these standards.

What is IN my Dog’s Food?

Ingredients to Steer Clear Of:
  • "Chicken, Beef, or Fish Meal"
  • "Meat Meal"
  • "Meat and Bone Meal"
  • "By-Product Meal"

Any commercial dog food that has the American Association of Feed Control Officials stamp of approval will meet these basic standards. However, many of these approved foods contain such low quality ingredients that much of the nutrition the label claims to provide is inaccessible to the animal! We will spare you the gruesome details, but the amount of unregulated use of rendered animal product in many commercial dog foods is common in today’s world. Even within regulated markets, ingredients such as "meat meal' can contain recalled, contaminated meat products, euthanized pets, diseased animals, and up to a 2.5% polyethylene from the packaging of outdated meats. Do you want Fido eating this?

Choosing the Right Dog Food

Some basic rules of thumb:

  • First of all, don't get just one. Buy three or more brands with differing ingredients and rotate every few months, transitioning between brands by mixing varieties for a couple weeks (for more information, see The Complete Holistic Dog Book). This will help keep imbalances at bay.
  • Use canned "wet" foods. These are more apt to contain whole chunks of meat while at the same time contain less fillers, additives, and unnecessary grains.
  • Keep food fresh by storing bagged products in the bag, inside of an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate canned food and always dispose of outdated or rancid smelling food immediately.

So how DO you choose a nutritious dog food within your budget?

  • Look at the shelves. Avoid buying products from stores that leave products on the shelf for long. Check the expiration dates to help determine this.
  • Look at the bag. Buy products labeled "Natural". While natural dog food mean it is a high quality food, it does mean that it won’t contain chemicals or synthetic preservatives unless it is prominently listed on the container.

Dog Food Label Decoder

Term Meaning
Chicken Flavor There is no chicken in this - only the taste!
With Real Chicken Contains at least 3% chicken.
Chicken Dinner 10% chicken by weight.
All Chicken Good as a supplement - not nutritionally balanced alone.
Chicken and Liver Contains at least 3% chicken and 3% liver by weight.
  • Look at the list of ingredients. Like in your own food, avoid foods that contain multiple synthetic additives. Also, look for whole meats as a protein source by avoiding chicken, beef, or fish “meals”. If it falls within your price-range, purchase meats produced without hormones and antibiotics.

Dog Food Label Ingredient Decoder

Ingredient Term Meaning
Chicken, Fish, Lamb, Beef, Venison (Meat) Meat from muscle, heart, and tongue.
Poultry and Meat By-products May include head, feet, intestines, bone, blood, liver, brain, kidneys, spleen, or lungs.
Meat Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Meat By-product Meal, Poultry By-product Meal Includes rendered animal tissues - could include expired meats, diseased animals, euthanized pets, and meat packaging.
  • Look at the price tag. Generally, the cheaper the product, the cheaper and lower quality the ingredients. With dog food, this is ultimately important because a single or very small number of varieties are utilized in a dog’s entire lifetime. Low quality food is fine for us to eat on occasion due to the fact that it is an exception to the rule. Think of all the diseases prevalent among those humans who eat mostly low quality, highly processed, high fat foods. This is similar to the effect that low quality dog food will have on your little canine friend.

Preparing Dog Meals on your Own

Of course, if you have the time and desire, preparing fresh meals for your dog each day is the best option for complete canine health (see The Complete Holistic Dog Book). A good compromise is to supplement a rotating diet of good commercial products with fresh foods from your own diet – see above for a list of guidelines when choosing dog food products. Remember, however, that you should always consult a veterinarian, or at least research more detailed information on specific foods that dogs should never eat (for example, chocolate) before adding foods to your dog’s diet. Look at for help. It is also important to cut back the amount of regular dog food you feed when you begin supplementing with fresh foods to keep your friend from consuming too many calories and gaining weight.

The easiest way to incorporate fresh foods into your dog’s diet is to gain a good understanding of which foods are best incorporated and which ones to stay away from and then adding them to your dog’s diet as you make them for yourself. Following are some general guidelines to think of when building the menu.

How to Supplement a Commercial Dog Food Diet

Many commercial dog foods are high in carbohydrates even though very little is needed in the domesticated dog’s diet. Add foods like vegetables and fruits, which add a variety of vitamins and antioxidants to their carbohydrate load or give them a scoop of cooked barley or rice. Also add complex proteins like fish, poultry, and eggs (staying away from pork fat whenever possible) that already have good natural levels of fat, without any additives, preservatives, or synthetic materials. To supplement fat intake, simply add a teaspoon or so of fish, flax, or olive oil to his meal.

Fun Ideas For Homemade Doggy Snacks

(from The Complete Holistic Dog Book)

Lunchbox Peanut Butter Sandwich Spread peanut butter on whole-grain bread and break up the pieces into a bowl of yogurt with fresh, diced apple.
Eggs and Toast Break whole-grain toast into a bowl and soften it with dairy or soy milk and top with a fresh, raw egg.
Tofu Toss Toss tofu in with cooked rolled oats or barley and moisten with the tofu juice.
Meat Meal, Meat and Bone Meal, Meat By-product Meal, Poultry By-product Meal Includes rendered animal tissues - could include expired meats, diseased animals, euthanized pets, and meat packaging.



Now get to it! You have all the information you need to get started feeding your dog the foods that are best for his body. Pay attention to his coat, skin, digestion, behavior, and energy level. Over time, you will find he is a much happier and healthy pup!


Common misspellings for some of our favorite dog nutrition and dog diet words:

Correct: Nutrition
Incorrect: Nutritian, Nutritien, Nutricion, Nutrician, Nutricien, Nutrishun, Nutrishon, Nutrishen, Nutrishin, Nutrishan, Nutrishion, Nutrishian, Nutrishien
Correct: Nutritious
Incorrect: Nutricious, Nutriceous, Nutrishus, Nutrishis, Nutrishes
Correct: Deficiency
Incorrect: Deficiancy, Deficeancy, Defitiency, Defitiancy, Defiteancy, Defishency, Defishincy, Defishancy
Correct: Proteins
Incorrect: Protiens, Proteans, Proteens, Protenes
Correct: Carbohydrates
Incorrect: Carbohidrates, Carbohiydrates, Carbohydrats, Carbohydrets, Carbohydrits
Correct: Vitamins
Incorrect: Vytamins, Vitamyns, Vitemins
Correct: Supplements
Incorrect: Suplements, Suppelments, Suppliments, Supliments, Supplaments, Suplaments, Supplemants, Supplemints, Suplemants