A balanced diet is the cornerstone of healthy and happy dog life. But what does a species-appropriate diet for dogs include? Hanna Stephan, a veterinarian for nutrition at Terra Canis, explains what is really important when feeding your pet and which ingredients you should pay attention to when buying feed.
Appropriate nutrition means that feeding is based on the natural living conditions and needs of dogs. Due to the nature of their organism, dogs have a species-specific need for food. This need determines the right proportion of meat, vegetables, and fruits, and natural ingredients.
The aim of species-appropriate nutrition is to provide the dog with all the nutrients it needs to live and thus contribute to a healthy and happy dog’s life. Veterinarian Hanna Stephan, who is responsible for product development at Terra Canis as an expert on nutritional issues, explains how this works.
Wet Food or Dry Food: Which is Better for the Dog?
The large selection of types of food does not make life easy for dog owners. The first important question is whether the dog should be eating wet food or dry food. There is no general answer to this question because every dog has very individual needs and preferences. However, a few basic tips can help make the choice easier.
Wet Food for a Species-appropriate Diet
Basically, wet food is a better choice for most dogs because moist food is more natural. Nature shows how it is: The prey animals of wild dogs and wolves also consist of juicy, fresh meat. Depending on the production method of the dry food, wet food for dogs has a higher meat content with low starch content. This means that the food is optimally tailored to the needs of dogs.
Healthy Nutrition with Dry Food
A dog can also be nourished healthily with dry food, as long as the ingredients and composition are correct. In no case should the dry feed consist of cheap meat and bone meal or fillers, but of high-quality raw materials. Veterinarian Hanna Stephan recommends:
“If you opt for dry food, baked variants with a high meat content are the best choice. In addition, it must be ensured that the dog drinks enough. ”
For the production of dry feed, the meat and the other ingredients are almost completely deprived of the liquid. If the dog eats exclusively or mainly dry food, the water requirement increases. The dog’s increased fluid requirements can be met by drinking enough fresh water on the one hand and soaking the dry food in warm water on the other.
Is Grain-Free Dog Food a Better Choice?
When it comes to species-appropriate nutrition, one thing is particularly important: the ingredients. Dogs have difficulty digesting grain and many four-legged friends are sensitive to grain-containing food due to previous illnesses, food allergies, or intolerances. The poor tolerance of grain is in the nature of the dog, explains veterinarian Hanna Stephan:
“Due to the structure of its digestive tract with a relatively short intestine and lack of fermentation chambers, dogs as carnivores and omnivores are by nature not equipped to use large amounts of grain for themselves.”
Grains are high in carbohydrates that are difficult for dogs to use. This can lead to an overload of the digestive system if there is a high intake of these. With nutrition-sensitive dogs, switching to grain-free wet food can make sense. By avoiding difficult-to-digest grain and potentially allergenic gluten, the digestive tract of the animal is spared when eating grain-free feed.
Components of a Species-appropriate Diet
You can recognize healthy dog food by a balanced composition of the raw materials. In addition to a high proportion of meat, fruits, vegetables, and herbs provide vitamins, fiber, and micronutrients. The optimal balance between the individual ingredients is crucial because the dog can only be supplied with all of the essential nutrients through the correct ratio of ingredients.
Meat as a Source of Animal Protein for Dogs
In the first place of the ingredients should be meat as the main component of the feed. High-quality muscle meat and offal are the primary source of energy for dogs and cannot be replaced by other raw materials, emphasizes veterinarian Hanna Stephan:
“As an energy supplier, the dog’s metabolism mainly uses animal protein, which for this reason is the only species-appropriate nutritional basis for the dog.”
The meat content of dog food should be at least 50 to 60 percent to meet the dog’s energy needs. The meat of 100% food quality, as with Terra Canis, is particularly healthy and appetizing. Only fresh meat and valuable offal are put into the bowl in order to spoil the dog with a delicious and species-appropriate meal.
Vegetables, Fruits, and Herbs Provide Fiber and Vitamins
Although meat is at the heart of a dog’s diet, dogs are not strictly carnivores. As omnivores, in addition to animal protein, they also need valuable fiber in the form of vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Dietary fiber is essential for a dog’s healthy diet because it stimulates digestion and contributes to better utilization of the food.
At the same time, vegetables, fruits, and herbs provide your dog with valuable vitamins and minerals. These ingredients are the best way to provide your dog with all of the nutrients they need in a completely natural way.
Micronutrients From Natural Ingredients
In addition to meat, vegetables, fruit, and herbs, natural additives round off the species-appropriate menu for the dog. Dogs and their ancestors have optimally adapted to the supply of natural ingredients over millennia. Veterinarian Hanna Stephan explains why vitamins and minerals from natural ingredients are more suitable for dogs than synthetic additives:
“The more natural the origin of the nutrient suppliers, the higher their bioavailability and thus their benefits for the dog.”
Natural additives from eggshells, pumpkin seeds, linseed oil, brewer’s yeast, pollen, or seaweed, therefore, have a particularly high bioavailability and can be used excellently by dogs. In the case of synthetic vitamins, on the other hand, a significantly larger amount would have to be consumed in order for the same amount of vitamins to reach the dog’s body.
High-quality dog food is not least characterized by a natural composition and high bioavailability of nutrients. In this way, your pet will be provided with all the essential micronutrients. These include essential vitamins, minerals, and trace elements as well as secondary plant substances, enzymes, and fiber. In their entirety, these nutrients ensure that the dog’s daily requirement is covered and your four-legged friend experiences a healthy, species-appropriate diet.