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About Dogs' Diets:
  • Although dogs may prefer animal-based food, they can survive on a vegetarian diet as long as it contains sufficient protein and other nutrients. 

  • Scientific research has shown that up to 50 percent of an adult dog's daily diet can come from carbohydrates, including between 2.5 and 4.5 percent from fibre. Approximately 5.5 percent of the diet should come from fats and 10 percent from protein. 

  • Fresh water should be available to your dog at all times, and more during exercise, to prevent overheating. It is fine to feed an adult dog just one or two times a day, but puppies need to eat two to three daily meals. 

  • Dietary protein contains ten essential amino acids that dogs cannot make on their own; studies show that dogs can tell when their food lacks a single amino acid and will avoid such a meal. 

  • Mammals have faster rates of digestion than more primitive animals do thanks to small, finger-like projections called "microvilli" that increase the surface area of the intestines by about seven-fold.


About dogs' energy needs: 
  • Normal, active adult dogs weighing 35 pounds should consume about 1000 kilocalories a day. 
  • Unlike cats which are descended from carnivores, dogs are omnivorous animals that get most of their energy from carbohydrates; in commercial dog foods, carbohydrates come from cereals, legumes and other plant food-stuffs.

  •  Severe illness or trauma may double a dog's energy needs. Whenever your dog becomes ill, please consult with your veterinarian or dog nutritionist for your dog's changed nutritional needs. 

  • The growing puppy starts out needing about twice as many calories per kilogram of body weight as an adult dog of the same breed:. Owners should start feeding puppies food at approximately four weeks after birth in multiple, well-spaced meals. 

  • Mothers' calorie needs increase with the number of puppies and the week of lactation, up to four.

  • Due to decreased physical activity and slowed metabolism, older dogs need 20 percent less total calories than middle-age adult dogs.


About feeding your dog:
  • Exposure to certain flavours and textures of food early in life can shape strong preferences later on, as can meal temperature, odour, texture and taste. 
  • Pet foods marketed as "snacks" are not required to have nutritional adequacy labels. 


Vitamins are organic compounds that take part in a wide range of metabolic activities. Dogs require vitamins in their food at low concentrations. First noticed in dogs some 75 years ago, vitamin deficiencies can lead to widely ranging clinical abnormalities that reflect the diversity of their metabolic roles. Some vitamins, like niacin, are not only essential in small doses, but also toxic in excess amounts. Following is a list of the functions of vitamins and symptoms of deficiency and excess. The full report also provides recommended daily allowances for these vitamins.

Functions Signs of Deficiency/Excess
Vitamin A Vision; growth; immune function; fetal development; cellular differentiation; transmembrane protein transfer Anorexia; body weight loss; ataxia; conjunctivitis; corneal disorders; skin lesions; respiratory ailments; increased susceptibility to infection
Imbalance in bone remodelling processes; artery and vein degeneration; dehydration; central nervous system depression; joint pain
Vitamin D Maintenance of mineral status; skeletal structure; muscle contraction; blood clotting; nerve conduction; cell signalling; phosphorous balance Rickets; lethargy; loss of muscle tone; bone swelling and bending
Anorexia; weakness; diarrhea; vomiting; calcification of soft tissue; excessive mineralization of long bones; dehydration; dry and brittle hair; muscle atrophy
Vitamin E
Read below
Defence against oxidative damage via free radical scavenging Degeneration of skeletal muscle; reproductive failure; retinal degeneration
Vitamin K Activation of clotting factors, bone proteins and other proteins No reports of naturally occurring deficiencies in normal dogs
Vitamin B1 (thiamin) Energy and carbohydrate metabolism; activation of ion channels in neural tissue Failure to grow, weight loss, and neurological abnormalities in puppies; damage to the nervous system and the heart in adult dogs
Riboflavin Enzyme functions Anorexia; weight loss; muscular weakness; flaking dermatitis; eye lesions
Vitamin B6 Glucose generation; red blood cell function; niacin synthesis; nervous system function; immune response; hormone regulation; gene activation Anorexia and weight loss in puppies; convulsions, muscle twitching, and anemia in adult dogs
Impairment of motor control and balance; muscle weakness
Niacin Enzyme functions Anorexia; weight loss; irritation and inflammation of the lips, cheeks, and throat; profuse salivation; bloody diarrhea
Bloody feces; convulsions
Pantothenic Acid Energy metabolism Erratic food intake; sudden prostration or coma; rapid respiratory and heart rates; convulsions; gastrointestinal symptoms; reduced antibody production
Vitamin B12 Enzyme functions Appetite loss; lack of white blood cells; anemia; bone marrow changes
Folic Acid Amino acid and nucleotide metabolism; mitochondrial protein synthesis Weight loss; decline in hemoglobin concentration


When using vitamin E purchased from a drug store BE SURE to buy all natural Vitamin E (NOT synthetic). If you have a question about which one is all natural, ask your pharmacist. Wheat germ is the richest natural source of Vitamin E. Vitamin E can also be found in food such as carrots, egg yolks, cereal, nuts, and vegetable oils. Vitamin E can be destroyed by rancid fats and inorganic irons. Liquid tonics of vitamins and minerals mixed together could be a cause for the breakdown of Vitamin E. Vitamin E is essential for muscular health. It also helps utilize fat and prevents Vitamin A, Linoletic acid, and other nutrients from destruction by oxygen in the body. Vitamin E also performs several other important functions within the body:

  • It permits the diameter of the blood vessels to increase, thereby improving the blood flow to the tissues. 

  • It improves the blood supply to injured areas and stimulates healing.

  • Dissolves and or prevents the formation of blood clots but does not interfere with the bodies normal blood clotting mechanism.

  • It prevents excessive scar tissue format ion. It promotes urinary excretion. It increases the power and efficiency of muscle tissue and has a very beneficial effect on a tired heart muscle


Daily dose of 50 i.u. can be given. This can and will depend on your dog. Always check with your Vet before starting something new. The dosage may need to be higher if you are located in a region with a high exposure to sunlight. When the body is exposed to sunlight for a long period of time, the body produces Vitamin D - an excess of these D vitamins can cause the destruction of Vitamin E in the muscles and a shortening of the muscle fibres. Overexposure to ultraviolet rays WILL cause the complete destruction of muscle fibre. If your dog is an athlete, be sure to start the administration of Vitamin E (if elected) approximately 1-2 months prior to competition (lure coursing, agility, etc.). The body needs time to adjust. At first the dog may become lethargic, but energy and vitality will soon follow. This is natures way of adapting to the beneficial change in metabolism. We have had great success in the use of Vitamin E both in our lure coursers as well as in the aid of injured dogs (in the process of healing).


B vitamins help to maintain the health of nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver and mouth, as well as healthy muscle tone in the gastrointestinal tract and proper brain function. B-complex vitamins are coenzymes involved in energy production, and may even be useful for alleviating anxiety. There are no side effects so you can feel comfortable giving your canine and feline companions this vitamin supplement.

Give once or twice daily.

  • Small dogs give ½ of a B25

  • Medium dogs give one tablet of B25

  • Large/giant dogs give one to two tablets of B50.

Please note the urine may become a “brighter” yellow while taking B vitamins.

Vitamin C and it's Role in Stress Management - click here for article


Twelve minerals are known to be essential nutrients for dogs. Dogs can get too much or too little of a specific mineral in their diets. Following is a list of the functions of minerals and symptoms of deficiency and excess. The full report also provides recommended daily allowances for these minerals.

Functions Signs of Deficiency/Excess
Calcium Formation of bones and teeth; blood coagulation; nerve impulse transmission; muscle contraction; cell signalling Nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism; significant decreases in bone mineral content, which can result in major skeletal abnormalities
Different types of skeletal aberrations, especially in growing puppies of large breeds
Phosphorus Skeletal structure; DNA and RNA structure; energy metabolism; locomotion; acid-base balance Reduced weight gain; poor appetite; bowing and swelling of forelimbs in puppies
Magnesium Enzyme functions; muscle and nerve-cell membrane stability; hormone secretion and function; mineral structure of bones and teeth Reduction in weight gain, irritability, and convulsions in puppies; hyperextension of carpal joints and hind-leg paralysis later in life
Sodium Acid-base balance; regulation of osmotic pressure; nerve impulse generation and transmission Restlessness; increased heart rate, water intake, and hemoglobin concentration; dry and tacky mucous membranes
Potassium Acid-base balance; nerve-impulse transmission; enzymatic reactions; transport functions Poor growth and restlessness at first in puppies; paralysis of neck muscles and rear legs and general weakness later in life
Chlorine Acid-base balance; osmolarity of extracellular fluids Reduced weight gain and weakness in puppies
Iron Hemoglobin and myoglobin synthesis; energy metabolism Poor growth; pale mucous membranes; lethargy; weakness; diarrhoea
Dangerous oxidative reactions that lead to gastrointestinal and other tissue damage
Copper Connective tissue formation; iron metabolism; blood cell formation; melanin pigment formation; myelin formation; defence against oxidative damage Loss of hair pigmentation in puppies; anemia
Zinc Enzyme reactions; cell replication; protein and carbohydrate metabolism; skin function; wound healing Poor weight gain; vomiting; skin lesions
Manganese Enzyme functions; bone development; neurological function No studies of deficiency in dogs
Selenium Defence against oxidative damage; immune response Anorexia; depression; dyspnea; coma; muscular degeneration
Iodine Thyroid hormone synthesis;  cell differentiation; growth and development of puppies; regulation of metabolic rate Enlargement of thyroid glands; dry, sparse hair coat; weight gain
Excessive tearing, salivation, and nasal discharge; dandruff
National Academies of Science, September 8th, 2003

Mineral Supplementation in Dog Foods

Mineral Mineral Supplement Sources Food Sources Comments
Calcium (without phosphorous) Calcium carbonate
Poultry by-product meal, lamb meal, fish meal  
Calcium and phosphorus Curacao phosphate
Defluorinated phosphate
Dicalcium phosphate*
Mono and tricalcium phosphate
Soft rock
Bone meal  
Phosphorus Phosphoric acid
Sodium tripolyphosphate
Meats, eggs, milk products  
Magnesium Magnesium oxide
Magnesium sulfate
Bone meal, lamb meal, oilseed/protein supplements, wheat and oat bran, beet pulp, soymill run  
Potassium Potassium citrate
Potassium chloride
Potassium sulfate
Soybean meal, unrefined grains, sunflower hulls, rice and wheat bran, soymill run, yeast  
Sodium and chloride Sodium chloride (salt)
Sodium acetate
Sodium tripolyphosphate
Calcium chloride
Potassium chloride
Choline chloride
Fish, eggs, dried whey, poultry by-product meal, soy isolate  
Iron Ferrous sulfate
Ferric ammonium citrate
Ferrous fumarate
Ferric chloride
Ferrous carbonate
Ferric oxide
Ferrous oxide
Meats, beet pulp, peanut hulls, soymill run, dicalcium phosphate* The iron in iron oxide is in a form that cannot be readily used by the body
Copper Cupric carbonate
Cupric chloride
Cupric hydroxide
Cupric oxide
Cupric sulfate
Meat, especially liver Absorption decreased in the presence of calcium, zinc, iron, and phytate; the copper in copper oxide is in a form that cannot be readily used by the body
Manganese Manganese carbonate
Manganous chloride
Manganous oxide
Manganese sulfate
Manganous sulfate
Sources of fiber, dicalcium phosphate*  
Zinc Zinc carbonate
Zinc chloride
Zinc oxide
Zinc sulfate
Meats, sources of fiber, dicalcium phosphate* Absorption decreased in the presence of calcium, phosphate, copper, iron, cadmium, chromium, and phytate
Iodine Calcium iodate
Potassium iodide
Cuprous iodide
Iodized salt
Fish, eggs, iodized salt, poultry by-products  
Selenium Sodium selenite
Sodium selenate
  The selenium in foods is in a form that cannot be readily used by the body; selenium supplementation in dog food is generally needed
* Dicalcium phosphate is derived from bones and contains minerals other than calcium and phosphorous
Holly Frisby, DVM, MS, Pet Education

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¦ Canine Diet Links ¦ Nutritional Values of Diets ¦ Natural Health Diet Recipes ¦ Weight Gain ¦
¦ Vitamins in the Diet ¦ The Roles of Vitamins & Minerals ¦ Canine Nutrition & Your Puppy ¦
¦ Show Bait Recipes ¦ Herbs For Dogs ¦ Nutrient Requirements For Dogs ¦ Essential Fatty Acids ¦



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