This should be an easy topic - we've all heard how nutritious carrots and sweet potatoes are when it comes to nutrition. Mixing these ingredients with a main meat protein would surely result in a hearty and healthy meals for our dogs, shouldn't it? ... well, wrong! But wait, we forgot to mention the importance of supplementing a piece of bone or egg shell powder for that indispensable source of calcium.. perfect! Sorry, wrong again!

Unfortunately, there isn’t a magical 50:25:25 (meat:vegetable:grain) ratio that will make a meal nutritionally balanced, it’s not that simple. With today’s blog, our goal is to build more awareness on what a “nutritionally balanced” diet for pets means and lightly cover its implications.

Nutritionally Balanced for Dogs

Dogs have very particular needs when it comes to nutrition, and when pet food formulators and veterinary nutritionists talk about dog nutrition they are in fact referring to very specific vitamins, minerals, and amino acids. Do note that I strictly mentioned veterinary nutritionists (not pet food specialists) and pet food formulators, as both of them are qualified experts with a Master’s degree or PhD in nutrition, trained to understand the nutritional requirements of animals.

Now when we refer to minimum requirements, these experts follow a standard set by either AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), NRC (National Research Council), or FEDIAF (The European Pet Food Industry). While the standards set by these three entities are primarily concerned with meeting the minimum nutritional requirements, it is the job of the experts to ensure:

  • Optimal nutrition is achieved
  • Factors not considered as essential (e.g. presence and % of taurine) by these standards but important are taken into account
  • Vitamins and Minerals don’t reach levels high enough that can end up being toxic

Nutritionally Balanced for Dogs

One of the concerning realities in our industry is that it is far too easy to start a business in selling food for pets that haven’t been formulated or reviewed by experts with proper credentials. Just as with humans, nutritional deficiencies over a prolonged period can be the cause of observable issues on the skin, haircoat, mood, energy levels and eventually even compromise our pet’s immune system.

Take Home Message

Ensuring dogs eat nutritionally balanced food is paramount and doing so will reduce the number of visits to the vet. Our industry can always benefit more from transparency and building awareness. As with humans, our dogs follow the timeless phrase - “We Are What We Eat”.