The Healthy Dog Diet Guide – What Nutrients Do Our Best Friends Need?

  • 11/11/2018

We, as humans, are becoming more and more health conscious. I was down at my local vet a couple of months ago and the subject of my dogs’ diet had come up. My dog is a secondary vacuum cleaner in our household and I used to lovingly give my pooch all the left-overs of a night’s dinner (after all, how could I not with those dough-like eyes peering at me with every bite) – but the vet didn’t seem amused by the idea that I do this on a regular basis. This then led to the biggest educating on my dog's diet that I’ve ever had – a good eye-opener and one that I really, really needed (for my dogs’ sake!).

All living organisms need a wide variety of nutrients – substances from consuming food that our bodies need in order for us to function and essentially, survive. Dogs are of course the same and they need their nutrients too and when reassessing my dog's diet I think that there was room for improvement – I as a proud owner could do better.

With this being said let’s look at some of the vital nutrients our canine friends need and why these nutrients are important. It’s worth noting, that since my schooling in the veterinarian clinic I have moved over to a more natural dog food diet and have noticed an uplift in my dog's energy and general mood – so it’s definitely worth looking into your dog’s diet.

I digress.


Aside from fats and carbohydrates, protein is an excellent macronutrient (which essentially means that it supplies energy). Protein is fundamentally made up of amino acids – also known as the ‘building blocks of life’

Why Protein is needed for our dogs

Dogs are carnivorous by their very nature – although, not strictly so. In order for a dog to remain healthy, most of the ingredients in their food should come from animal sources and good old’ protein takes centre stage as the most important aspect of our dog's diets. Dogs require a total of 22 amino acids in their diet and although they make 12 on their own, the remaining 10 are essential to be included in your dog’s diet.

Although there are some proteins that can be found in plant-based foods such as beans and legumes, only animal proteins contact the full-house of 12 additional proteins that our dogs need. Raw meat is excellent for your dog in this respect.


Normally we’d do everything in our power to avoid fats – however, not all fats were created equal and not all fats are bad for you. Examples of fats would be saturated (like butter, cheese, meat), polyunsaturated (fish oil, flaxseed oil, sunflower etc) or monounsaturated (olive oil etc)

Why Fat is important to our canine friends

Fat, on its own, provides the most concentrated sources of energy – with an astounding twice as many calories as carbs and proteins. Our dogs normally output a lot of energy (not all of them!) and therefore need these essential fats to stay healthy. Some incredibly good essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are also found in fats which helps with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins.

Fats also serve our dogs with other benefits such as protecting their organs, regulating their body temp and fats to promote a healthy nervous system.


Vitamins play a vital role in the metabolic function of our dogs and are organic compounds.

Why vitamins are needed in our dog's diets

Vitamins play a plethora of positive roles when it comes to our dog's bodies, including regulating calcium and phosphorous levels. They can also boost your dog’s immune system which will help it fight against sickness and they’ll also maintain our dog's nervous system function. Vitamins are found in a whole host of foods and, if in doubt, you can find nutritional values of pretty much anything online.

Last but by no means least, water!

As if I need to tell you this, but our furry friends need some good H2O – but, it’s important that you have good, filtered tap water (or even buy a filter for the home to further remove any sediments)

Why water is so important to our doggies

Well, without water, no life on earth can exist. Water plays a variety of roles for your dog and makes up 80% of your dog’s lean body mass. Most dogs will self-regulate their water intake to meet their needs as required – however, as an important note, if your dog appears to be drinking a lot without much activity in normal temperatures, you should get your dog checked at the vet.

With all these in mind, here’s a couple of examples of great food sources for your dog:

Water – Filtered tap water

Fat – Sardines are fantastic. Low mercury, high in essential omega-3 acids and extremely nutrient rich

Carbs – Butternut squash

Vitamins – any dark and leafy greens are always rich in vitamins A, C, E and K, if it’s green, it’s a dream!

Protein – Lean meats

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