Group of Chihuahuas sitting, 2 years old, isolated on white

What Constitutes “Healthy” Dog Food?

Dogs, like people, need to eat a balanced diet that includes quality pet food ingredients and the right amount of protein, fat, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and calories.

Protein should be between 40 and 80 percent of dog food. Healthy proteins include: boneless chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, pork, or duck; fish with no bones, especially salmon; eggs which can be cooked with their crushed shells for extra calcium. Organ meats should not make up more than 15% of their diet.

Fruits and vegetables should be between 5 and 10 percent of the dog food. Blueberries, carrots, and peas are extremely beneficial for dogs.

Fiber-rich carbohydrates should be between 20 to 60 percent of the dog food. Good choices include: white and sweet potatoes; brown, white, or jasmine rice; lentils and peas; and small amounts of barley and oatmeal.

Dogs need to eat fat every day to remain healthy. Fats should be between 5 to 15 percent of the dog food. Healthy choices include: Rendered poultry fat from cooking; poultry skin; canola, safflower, or soybean oil; or ground flax seeds and flax oil. Egg products help in this regard as well.

Dogs require vitamins A and E for their antioxidant properties. These animal health products will help prevent premature aging and help your dog fight off diseases. Skin and eye health also require vitamins A and E. Vitamin A also helps dogs burn fat more efficiently.

Vitamin B-12 aids in cell growth and development, which is critical for a healthy dog.

Calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D are found in bone meal and help strengthen dogs’ bones and teeth.

The mineral iron is necessary for healthy blood, which transports oxygen throughout the dog’s body. Iron is found in high-quality meat and animal by products.

Potassium is important for heart health and is found in carbohydrates. So while some people think dogs do not need to eat carbohydrates, they really do need them for the potassium.

Finally, dogs require vitamin C for the same reason their owners do. Vitamin C boosts the immune system, promotes healing and fights illness.

A good dog food will contain all these essential nutrients and keep each serving within a reasonable calorie range. This range will vary with the size of dog and level of the dog’s activity.