Feeding a dog properly is very important to ensure a healthier, longer life. It’s helpful to understand what compounds are crucial for a dog’s optimum health, in order to obtain the best possible results – from the bowl to the tummy! Pet sitters will benefit by these basic tenants to demonstrate their professionalism and knowledge.

What are the main Nutritional requirements for Dogs?

One thing to keep in mind is that every dog’s diet needs at least 6 main nutrients. These include (a) fats (b) minerals (c) vitamins (d) carbs (e) protein and (f) water. These essential ingredients are pivotal for a dog’s diet to fulfill the basic functions for the body.

With that being said, studying the nutritional guidelines created by the Association of American Feed Control Officials can help, if not assist with the definition of each ingredient listed on Fido’s bag of food. It is very scientific, so bone up without getting lost in the details or yawning. 🙂

On their website, you’ll find a Consumer tab with a helpful guide: The  Association of American Feed Control Officials > Consumers > What is in Pet Food (aafco.org)

This critical concept is further expanded upon by the VCA Animal Hospital:

“As research into basic and applied nutrition has expanded the knowledge of canine nutrition, it is now known that a well-balanced diet must also include an appropriate amount of minerals, vitamins, certain essential amino acids (from proteins), and specific essential fatty acids (from fats). These components are needed to build and maintain tissue and carry out biological reactions, and the necessary amounts vary somewhat with the dog’s stage of life (puppy, adolescent, adult, pregnancy and senior)”

Things to look for in Dog Food

Professional pet care encompasses many facets of caring for a dog including knowing what the right dog food is, starting with the highest quality possible. While higher-end nutrition costs more, the longer-term health benefits result in fewer visits to the vet, if not disease and illness prevention.

The best dog food has 20% or more protein. The ingredients are easier to digest, and of greater quality when compared to less expensive foods. Ideally, this includes a diet that has whole food ingredients and real compounds. If the ingredients you see in that dog food are not recognizable, you know it’s junk! It’s also important to recommend a low-calorie diet, especially if the dog in your care is a senior.

Whole meats are expensive, and many manufacturers supplement their formulas with meat meal to ensure a balanced diet at an affordable cost. Meat meal is basically concentrated meat. It’s created through a high-pressure, high-temperature process called rendering: Fat and moisture are separated out from dried, solid protein by grinding everything up and steam cooking it all at extremely high temperatures. The dried solids make up the meal.

Sadly, pet food manufacturers aren’t required to be transparent about how their meals are rendered. The nutritional qualify of meal can vary during high-temperature manufacturing processes. The animal parts that comprise meal are often derived from low quality sources (slaughtered mammals other than cattle, pigs, sheep or goats). Meat meal may also be sourced from diseased livestock and expired supermarket meat. Yuk!

How much Food does a Dog need?

Every dog has its own nutritional requirements in conjunction with regular exercise to keep them fit and healthy.

A good rule of thumb is to use this equation: 30 x dog weight in kilograms, and then you add 70. This is the number of calories needed. If a dog has 5 kilograms, that means he needs 220 calories per day. Best to feed 2 times per day, in equally divided meals. Puppies in their early growth stages are often fed 3 x day. Dogs that free graze all day may not relegate their food consumption properly which can lead to improper weight gain and obesity. Be sure to read our blog about dog obesity and its impact on the longevity of an overweight pet: https://associationofpetprofessionals.com/do-these-genes-make-me-look-fat/

Notwithstanding food allergies (roughly 10% of dog allergies are food related) these guidelines should help develop a benchmark for the discerning pet sitter when discussing with clients a dog’s dietary needs (in general and when appropriate). Of course, a good veterinarian will also offer guidance on how to choose the right food.

It’s also helpful to identify a dog’s proper weight, as you will encounter many dogs that tip the scale (overweight) and those that may appear underweight (notwithstanding breed guidelines). This chart from pfma.org.uk is a good start:

How to tell if a dog is overweight or not

A boatload of pet management guidelines and Pet Sitter resources are included in our Members Only section! Join now for only $10/month for access to a wealth of knowledge to help your pet sitting business flourish: https://associationofpetprofessionals.com/join-us/

Resources cited in this article:

Nutrition – General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs | VCA Animal Hospital  (vcahospitals.com)


photo attribution (dog eating out of a bowl): by cottonbro studio on pexels