You and your dog have a special bond that can never be truly understood. Most people who have one would consider their dogs a part of their family. There is just that powerful chemistry between man and dog. When your dog greets you at your doorstep after a long day of work, you become fully rejuvenated. To that end, it should be just as important for you, as an owner, to be aware of the things that your dog needs in order to be healthy.

Much like you, your dog needs nutrients in order to function properly. That is why the dog food industry came to be. Providing dog food that is complete with vital elements to keep your dog healthy has become a high-demand need nowadays. The downside of this is that it doesn’t come cheap, as these food and supplements are produced specifically for your dog.

Did you know that you can actually provide your dog with quality food without the sting to your wallet? These do-it-yourself foods can make it possible for you to give your dog food in variety without the high cost. Then again, before you try to tinker with making food for your little canine companion, it is important that you consider the factors that dictate whether your prepared food is indeed good for your pet.

Age and Nutrient Needs

You might have seen in the grocery store that there is food for adult dogs, and there is a separate type of food for puppies. This is because dogs are much like any other living creature on the planet – they grow. What comes with this growth is the alteration of the nutrients their bodies require. Of course, you wouldn’t feed a human baby with solid foods, right? Take note of the age of your dog, as well as its body type so you can provide them with the food that best fits them.

If you’re caring for puppies from their first few months of life, you should try to make sure to give them some space in proximity of their mother. This is because puppies at that age are still dependent on their mother’s milk, which can provide the necessary nutrients they need naturally.

As these puppies age, you will notice a gradual reduction of their dependency to their mother’s milk. This is technically known as weaning. By the seventh to eighth week, puppies would be completely independent of their mother’s milk, and it’s time to feed them with your prepared food.

well-balanced puppy food contains nutrients that puppies need to grow. These nutrients are not necessary once the puppy has finished growing into an adult dog, so they are not added to adult formula dog food. For example, to build a strong body, puppy food should contain about 30 percent protein, as well as the vitamins and minerals that are needed for a puppy to be healthy. Puppy food also contains high fat content for energy, which is not necessary for adult dogs.

Adult dogs on the other hand, need enough nutrients to meet their energy needs. Most adult dogs need to repair their body tissue, and thus need more protein. Then again, too much protein for an adult dog may not be as good. For this reason, you should give them food that is based on their body size and energy output.

If you have a senior dog at home, meaning that they have reached half of their life expectancy, then you should observe a lower metabolism and water balance. This is why senior dog food must be moist and have plenty of water. You can also opt to provide fruits such as carrots and apple slices, which they normally love.

Food Preference of your Dog

If you’re wondering if your dog has taste buds, the answer is that he or she does. That makes it possible for dogs to have food preference. Dogs have about one-sixth the number of taste buds that humans do. The bigger question would be, “What makes food delicious for a dog?”

Many studies about pets indicate that they can have a good sense of taste. Similar to humans, these tastes include bitter, salty, sweet, and sour. What the study found out, however, is that the smell matters more to dogs than the way food tastes.

Like you, dogs prefer a variety of flavors, and they are open to practically any taste. However, some dogs have unique preferences. This is rooted from how they were fed as a puppy. If they were introduced early on to a certain king of taste, they are more likely to appreciate more of that specific taste on food. If they were offered a variety of foods (including dry and canned) early on, they may be more likely to try different foods as an adult.

Another factor is the freshness of the food. As foods age, they lose their aroma and flavor. The fats in the product also start to oxidize into peroxides. This degradation is known as rancidity and results in undesirable odors and flavors. Dry food remains palatable for about one month after the bag is opened. Keeping the kibble closed tightly in the original bag can help keep it fresh. If you prefer to transfer the food to another container, make sure it has a tight-fitting lid. Even though it may be more economical to buy in bulk, the food’s palatability may suffer.

Type of Ingredients

While there is a whole menu of healthy and delicious DIY dog treats, the freshness of ingredients can be improved upon from typical packaged food, as mentioned above. However, there’s more to it than freshness of the ingredients. Dog food is composed of a variety of components, and taking note of each would dictate how your dog would appreciate the treat. In other words, the taste matters too. 

Some dog foods have anywhere between 30 to 70 percent carbohydrates. Dogs are omnivores, meaning they can use carbohydrates as a source of energy. The ability to use both proteins and carbohydrates as energy allows healthy dogs to function well on the majority of commercial diets. Common cereal grains like wheat, corn, rice, barley, and oats give the kibbles structure and texture.

One of the most important nutrients for dogs is protein. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks for creating strong muscles and repairing body tissues. Since dogs can only create half of the amino acids they need, other essential amino acids must come from their diet.

Common ingredients such as chicken, egg, beef, turkey, lamb, soybeans, and fish meal are used in dog foods to provide necessary protein levels. Adult dogs in good health generally require about 18 to 25 percent protein in their diet, which can come from a variety of sources.

Also, dogs require a balance of certain fatty acids that must be provided in their diet. Fats provide energy, as well as taste and flavor to foods, while encouraging the absorption of certain vitamins in their bodies. Fat provided by their diet also helps dogs maintain healthy skin and a shiny, healthy coat.

Common fats used in dog foods include chicken or pork fat, cottonseed oil, vegetable oil, soybean oil, fish oil, and safflower oil. A balanced diet that provides about 10 to 15 percent fat is essential to the health of most adult dogs.