Whether you buy dog food or prepare it yourself at home with whole ingredients, your pet needs a balanced diet to stay healthy and fit. And like humans, canines need the proper mix of proteins, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and water. While the best dog food brands often have the “complete and balanced nutrition” label, it’s important that owners understand the basics of canine nutrition as well. This knowledge can help owners sidestep marketing gimmicks and ensure their pups get the best quality food at an affordable price.

Dog Nutrition

Most people feed their dogs processed kibble or canned (wet) food. Because dogs aren’t strictly carnivores, they get their nutrition from meat as well as fruits, vegetables, and grains. This means that not all non-meat ingredients are fillers.

Simply put – the best brands use the highest-quality, dog-friendly versions of these ingredients. For example, a new trend in the industry is grain-free products. However, not all grains are bad unless your pup has a grain allergy. Dogs can eat whole grains as a source of wholesome nutrients.

Proteins, Carbs and Fats

Dogs need proteins in their diets. Proteins make up body tissue, most notably your pup’s muscles. According to research, a dog’s body only naturally produces 13 out of the 23 amino acids needed for protein synthesis – the rest comes from the food and plants in their diet. This can be why dogs selectively pick foods that are high in protein.

However, dogs also needs dietary fats. As the most concentrated source of energy, animal fats and seed oils of various plants serve as carriers for essential fat-soluble vitamins. Furthermore, fatty acids help with cell structure and organ function while adding flavor and texture in dog food. Plus, without a good amount of healthy fatty acids, you’re pup won’t be as active as needed to stay fit.

Lastly, dogs get some of their energy from carbohydrates, including dietary fibers, sugars, and starches. The major sources of carbs are grains, legumes, and other plant-based ingredients.

What Dogs Need To Eat

Dogs have different nutritional requirements than humans. Even dog food regulations and terminology are different. These complications can make finding the healthiest food a challenge.

Fortunately, the bloggers at Dog Food Genius have created an awesome infographic answering all the most common questions about what makes a good dog food. From how much Americans spend on their dogs to what canines need to eat to good vs bad ingredients in products, this graphic is the complete guide to buying food for pets. Check it out below!

Dog food infographic