Balanced Dog Foods & When to Change Them

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Balance is important in every area of our lives, but for our dogs it’s probably most critical in their nutrition.

A dog that eats an unbalanced food that does not contain all the essential nutrients he needs is likely to suffer health problems and live a shorter and less happy life.

How Do I Know My Dog Food is Balanced?

A balanced pet food for your dog should contain protein (from an animal), vegetables, whole grains, fat, and micronutrients (omega 3 fatty acids for skin and brain function; and for large breed puppies and older dogs, glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate).

Dogs also require more than 50 key nutrients, the most vital of which are vitamin C and minerals magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus. The balance between these nutrients is important, too. “The body is a very complex organic place where biochemical reactions are going on,” explains Kerri Marshall, DVM, a licensed veterinarian and chief veterinary officer at Trupanion.

Should I Change My Dog Food According to My Dog's Lifestage?

Yes! Like humans, dogs have different nutritional needs depending on their life stage. Puppies, and lactating and pregnant females in particular, need plenty of calcium and magnesium for bone health and growth; older animals typically need fewer minerals to avoid kidney damage.

Because of these different requirements, “be sure to always buy pet food that’s specifically balanced for the life stage of your pet,” says Dr. Marshall.

If your dog has one of a number of diseases, such as arthritis or renal disease, his problems could worsen if you feed him an incorrectly balanced food. To avoid problems, there are foods that are especially designed for these issues, which dogs can eat indefinitely.

And, says Dr. Marshall, there are even foods specifically balanced for shorter-term medical problems like obesity, bladder infections, vomiting, kidney stones, and anemia.

If your dog is on a special food for a short-term medical problem or a short-term life stage like being a puppy or pregnancy, be sure to switch onto the new dog food — or back to the old food — gradually, warns Dr. Marshall, or your dog could suffer vomiting or diarrhea from the sudden change. The transition should take at least a week.

For the complete article on balanced dog food and choosing the best food for your dog’s health, visit petMD!