Nutrition 101: The Different Nutrients Your Dog Needs

Just like us humans, your dogs’ nutritional needs vary depending on her breed, age and lifestyle. She will need a different formula as a puppy than as an adult dog and also as she becomes a senior. Understanding her basic nutrient needs can help you to choose a high-quality diet that will support optimal growth and health throughout her lifetime.

Let’s dive into some of the key nutrients every pet diet needs:

1. Protein

Protein is one of the nutrients your dog needs most. Protein helps support the development of your dog’s tissues, tendons, ligaments, cartilage, skin and hair, and can also provide energy. When your dog consumes protein through her diet, her body digests it into amino acids and then absorbs them through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Highly digestible proteins are really important, because they are easier for the dog to absorb and utilize. If your dog is more easily able to absorb the nutrients she needs, the easier it is to meet her health requirements.

 2. Fats and Fatty Acids

Fats provide your dog with energy and fatty acids, assist in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, and add flavor to your dog’s food. Omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA help support immune response and manage inflammatory disorders. These are only found in aquatic sources, so look for fish oils, like anchovy oil, to ensure these important nutrients are in your dog’s food. 

3. Carbohydrates and Dietary Fiber

Digestible carbohydrates and dietary fiber help maintain healthy gastrointestinal movement while allowing your dog to feel full. These nutrients are vital in weight loss diets or for dogs with stomach issues. 

4. Essential Minerals

Essential minerals support healthy growth, development and functioning of your dog’s organs. Some important minerals include calcium and phosphorus which support skeletal growth, blood clotting, and muscle and nerve function

5. Vitamins

Vitamins help your dog’s body develop and function properly. Your dog can store fat-soluble vitamins in her body once consumed, but must get a continual supply of water-soluble vitamins through her diet. The key difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins is whether your dog’s body can make them. Water-soluble vitamins have to be ingested through a diet to get the necessary amount.

6. Water

Most of the tissues in your dog’s body are 70% to 90% water, so water is vital for her well-being. Besides supporting your dog’s overall health, water promotes healthy digestion and metabolism while regulating her body temperature. Provide your dog with a constant supply of fresh, cool water.

No matter what stage in life, your dog needs these basic nutrients to support healthy growth and life. Quantities of each nutrient needed will vary depending on your dog’s breed, age and lifestyle.

Talk to your vet to make sure your pet’s food is truly promoting your pet’s health. Your vet will be able to expertly recommend high-quality food that goes beyond providing basic nutrients and takes into account the individualized nutritional needs of your pet. 

Interested in learning more about dog nutrition? Visit and sign up for our newsletter to learn more about how each nutrient specifically functions in our diets.