Dog (illustrative)
Dog (illustrative)iStock

"Our dogs are our best friends" is a cliche, but it is very much true. A good diet for dogs means that they can be happy and healthy for years to come. We all know that a good diet is good for us, but what does a good diet look like for a dog, and why is it so important?

Why Is Diet So Important for Dogs?

Much like humans, there are many ways by which to look after the health and diet of a dog. It is also possible to use specific supplements like joint chews for dogs and probiotics for dogs, to help further improve their diet and health.

There are some clear benefits to taking care of your dog’s diet:

Muscle and body condition - Protein is an integral building block for skin, hair, muscles and organs. Dogs also need protein, like we do, for repairing damaged cells and making new ones. Protein is especially important for young dogs and dogs who are pregnant. Ensuring that your dog has enough protein will mean that they can build and maintain strong muscles.

Preventing joint diseases - A healthy, balanced, diet can help prevent or lessen the effects of joint pain or problems for your dog. With a healthy and balanced diet, your dog’s body will be able to repair damage and keep bone and joint strength into their old age.

Skin and coat health - You may already know that a rich shiny coat is most likely a sign of good health in a dog. This is because dogs who eat a healthy balanced diet with omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids will have healthy skin and healthy hair. Not only does correct nutrition mean that your dog will have a healthy coat, but omega fatty acids also have anti-inflammatory properties, which will reduce itching and irritation for your dog.

Good digestion - Giving your dog a good diet means that they will have the right carbohydrates to aid healthy digestion and elimination. Carbohydrates provide us with fibre, which allows our food to pass through your digestive system with ease and allows us to easily absorb the nutrients we need. This is exactly the same for dogs. Dogs that have poor nutrition with not enough fibre will not be able to absorb the nutrients they need from their food.

Immunity – A good diet for your dog means improved immunity. The vitamins and minerals found in good quality dog food help keep your dog's immune system functioning well. Minerals promote the normal function of the cell and help your dog maintain good health, while vitamins work in your dog's system to reduce the damage done to body cells on a daily basis. Without the correct vitamins and minerals in their diet, your dog would eventually become sick. A healthy immune system means less trips to the vet and less pain and discomfort for your dog.

Feeding your dog a healthy, balanced diet with all nutrients that they need means setting your dog up for a long, happy, healthy life. With the correct nutrition your dog will be able to have a robust immune system, healthy digestion, strong muscles and a good coat. But how do you know you are feeding your dog a good diet?

What Does A Good Diet Look Like For A Dog?

Just like humans, dogs need a good balance in their diet. That means having the right proportion of protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals and water, every single day. Having this proper balance ensures everything can function properly.

When considering what to feed your dog, start off with a commercially available dog food rather than making your own at home or giving your dog the same thing you eat.

It is really difficult to give your dog a healthy, balanced diet without using commercial dog food. Look for foods that are labelled ‘complete’: this means that they will have all the recommended nutrients that your dog needs.

Make sure that you are buying the right kind of food for your dog, for their stage of life, and taking into consideration any extra requirements. You may need a specific dog food if your dog is a giant breed, very active, overweight or pregnant.

If you're ever worried about what you're feeding your dog, a good person to ask is your vet. All veterinary staff will have a good idea of which brands are well established and offer high quality dog food, so ask your vet for a recommendation.

Movement and Joint Strain

It is also important, much like it is with humans, to ensure your dog is getting sufficient exercise and that you dog does not engage in any activity that may otherwise cause it any harm. For example, a human may purchase a gaming bean bag chair to work on as it places less stress on their back when working. Likewise with a dog, consider the type of dog bed your pet uses and how and where it sleeps, which may well have an impact on its physical condition and overall health.

Include Probiotics

Dogs have billions of probiotics in their gut that help them fight infections, keep their immune system strong, help them digest food, and support them in making vitamins and nutrients. These probiotic bacteria are called the microbiome and a healthy dog needs a healthy microbiome to function. An unhealthy microbiome can make your dog sick in a number of different ways.

You might notice that your dog has diarrhea, bloating, cramps, gas, general poor health, obesity, allergies, bad breath, and an upset stomach. Luckily, these issues can be easily avoided by adding probiotics to your dog's diet on a regular basis.