What makes up a typical dog diet?

2 big dogs

Your dog’s diet is essential to its health and happiness. What you put in your dog’s food bowl affords him fuel for exercise, but also brain activity, immunity against diseases and protection against injuries. Are you feeding your dog food that supplements all these vital areas?

What not to buy

For dog owners to purchase the correct food it’s necessary to know what to look for on dog food packets. You can quickly see which foods are high in quality by reading ingredients lists. Apart from purchasing food high in nutrients, you should also avoid brands that use the following:

  • Artificial preservatives
  • Grain and gluten in excessive amounts
  • Artificial coloring and flavoring
  • Fillers with no nutritional value

The effects of the correct food

When you decide on a specific brand or product you can look for its effects in the following ways:

  • Your dog’s eyes will be bright instead of cloudy.
  • Your dog’s coat will be shiny without dry, itchy skin.
  • Your dog will have high energy levels.
  • Your dog won’t become ill or get hurt during normal play time. This is proof of a good immune system and strong bones and muscles.

Ideal dog diet

Different dog breeds are designed for a variety of purposes such as hunting, guarding or just laying on your lap. Whatever the breed’s current preferences, dogs came from the wild. This means they have a natural affinity to meat and other natural products. This includes plants since dogs are omnivores (although my dog never eats the lettuce that falls on the floor).

Dog food products come in dry and wet versions. Dry dog food is more beneficial as the food’s texture assists your dog’s digestive system in staying regular and healthy. Proof of this is the firm consistency of stool from many dry dog food diets. Wet food is beneficial to use as enticement or for very young or old dogs who can’t chew kibbles. You need to find the food which benefits your dog’s life the most.

Dog food contains most of what your dog need for its daily nutritional intake. For this reason you should avoid feeding it scraps from the table or too many treats. These habits can cause unnecessary weight gain or other health problems when your dog’s system can’t deal with high fat and sugar doses. This will also train your dog to beg for food, which you want to avoid.

As a dog owner you need to supply food which matches their nutritional requirements and taste preferences. This is why many pet food companies (like Orijen) include natural products in their manufacturing process. Apart from the amazing flavors this creates, it’s also the healthiest option. As mentioned, this includes a variety of items:


Carbohydrates are found in some plants, vegetables and fruits. Carbohydrates are essential to your dog’s diet, but should be limited to prevent obesity. Carbohydrates help your dog in three different ways:

  • They provide energy because a dog’s system can turn carbohydrates into fuel for exercise and daily activities. Enough carbohydrates are necessary to keep your dog from becoming lethargic.
  • Carbohydrates mixed with meat products make your dog feel full for longer. This is a natural way of curbing over eating to keep body weight under control.
  • Some less digestible carbohydrates—also known as fibres—help your dog’s digestive system function optimally. This keeps it regular and nutrients can be absorbed optimally.


Because your dog is an omnivore it can turn protein into fuel, the same way it can use carbohydrates. Proteins do have additional benefits for your dog’s functioning:

  • Proteins help puppies build their muscle system
  • Proteins help maintain healthy muscles. The amino acids which make up protein help your dog’s muscles repair themselves if injuries occur.
  • The best protein sources are meats. Using meat in dog food products makes them more tasty and enticing so dogs enjoy meal times.

Vitamins & Minerals

There is a range of vitamins and minerals your dog’s system needs to function well and stay healthy. These nutrients can be found in meat, vegetables and fruits or added to food as additional supplements. Make sure the food you pick contains the following:

  • Vitamins: They help your dog’s immune system stay healthy so it can fight off diseases. It also benefits your dog’s skin and coat.
  • Antioxidants: Vitamins form part of this. They fight off the effects of aging. This means your dog can enjoy health for longer, well into its senior years. These are more important for smaller breeds since they tend to live longer.
  • Calcium: This is essential so your dog’s bones and teeth develop while it’s a puppy and stays strong during its adult years.
  • Other: Your dog’s body requires minerals to perform necessary daily functions. These minerals include:
  • Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
  • Sodium
  • Chloride
  • Sulphur
  • Potassium
  • Iron
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Chromium
  • Iodine


Fat is essential in any diet, though it should be given in limited amounts. Your dog can draw energy from fat and as long as it can use up all of it, it won’t cause obesity. Fats have the additional benefit of affording your dog the following:

  • Fat adds enticing taste to food. If you want your dog to enjoy meal times, this is essential.
  • Fats play a role in your dog’s coat and skin conditions. The correct amounts will keep skin moist and coats shiny.
  • Fats assist vitamin absorption

Remember that dogs react differently to food at different stages of their lives. Puppies burn fat quicker than adult dogs. Senior dogs struggle to maintain an ideal weight if their fat intake is too high. As your dog’s activity levels change, you need to adjust its diet.


Your dog needs fresh water as part of its diet. Access to a water source prevents dehydration and will assist digestive processes.

These are ingredients all dogs need. Different breeds and sizes have unique requirements. You should pick your dog’s food to match these requirements.

Teacup sized dog breeds


The more dogs have been inbred, the higher the possibility of genetic defects. Part of this is because each new breed can inherit diseases from both original breeds. Teacup size dogs are the result of a lot of inbreeding. Your dog’s diet need to support problems it may have. You can prevent some conditions from developing (like allergies) by giving your dog the correct food. General guidelines for this size dog:

  • Small dogs live longer than large dogs. Ensure healthy and energetic senior years with enough protein, calcium and carbohydrates. Their longer life also means antioxidants play an important role in their diet (to prevent cells from aging).
  • Small dogs have thin bones. Ensure these bones stay strong through a high calcium intake.
  • Small dogs may develop dental problems with many teeth in small mouths. Calcium is essential to keep teeth healthy.
  • Some small dog breeds have protruding eyes, such as Chihuahuas and Shih Tzus. These eyes can easily get hurt or infected. Feeding your small dog food high in DHA will ensure optimal eye health.
  • Pick dog food that is small in kibble size. Your tiny dog won’t be able to chew large kibbles properly. This means its digestive system won’t be able to absorb all the nutrients inside the food.

Small sized dog breeds


This size dog has the longest expected life span, especially if it’s not an inbred dog with health problems. You need to support this long life span by taking the necessary precautions:

  • Ensure you feed your puppy exceptional quality food. Its bones and muscles need calcium & protein for optimal development. If they develop well, these systems will support your dog even in its senior years.
  • Boost your dog’s immune system throughout its life through Omega oils. This substance helps your dog’s overall health. By preventing your dog from contracting a disease during puppy and adult years, it will have a healthier life during its senior years.
  • On a cellular level antioxidants play a role in slowing the aging process of dogs that live a long time.

Smaller dogs are usually very energetic (and sometimes loud, like Beagles). Their build allows them to run and jump without fear of getting hurt, as their body weight is easily supported by their bones & muscles. You need to support this lifestyle in the following ways:

  • High carbohydrate levels for lots of energy
  • High protein and calcium to keep muscles & bones in excellent condition & prevent injuries.

Check out our suggestions for the best dog food for small breed dogs.

Medium sized dog breeds


Medium size dogs are usually less energetic than small dogs. They do have a long life expectancy so you need to supply the correct nutrition as with small dogs.

  • Many medium sized dogs were bred as hunters (like labradors and pitbulls). You may want to use their natural affinity for hunting and other tasks to teach them tricks.
  • Assist their brain capacity by feeding your dog foods rich in DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid). This is found in fish oil and can remarkably improve your dog’s training capacity.

Adjust your dog’s food according to its size. Most adult dog food will be easily chewed by medium dogs. Don’t feed a medium sized dogs too small or soft kibbles. The hard texture of larger kibbles are necessary to help fight tartar buildup. It also maintains a healthy digestive system.

Large sized dog breeds


You can assist your large size dog to maintain optimum health by guarding against the following pitfalls:

  • A large dog puts more strain on its joints during everyday routines and especially when exercising. Your dog needs Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to keep joints healthy. This ensures that shocks on joints are absorbed adequately.
  • Large dogs have lower energy levels than smaller dogs. This doesn’t mean you should neglect your dog’s exercise routine. Ensure there’s enough carbohydrates in its diet so it has fuel to burn when you take it for a walk or run.
  • Due to large dogs’ low activity levels, you should feed them low fat foods to prevent obesity.
  • Large dogs’ hearts need to pump harder to push blood throughout their body. Your dog’s cardiovascular system will only function optimally when you feed your large dog enough:
  • Proteins to keep the heart muscle strong
  • Omega oils which help the system function well
  • Food which maintains the right cholesterol levels so arteries don’t become clogged.

Your large dog needs kibbles designed for its size. Dog foods designed for large dogs will be the correct size so your dog’s mouth can chew comfortably. The rougher texture of certain kibbles also assists your dog’s digestive system.

Check out our suggestions for the best dog food for large breed dogs and puppies.

Giant sized dog breeds


The larger your dog is, the more prominent some characteristics become. You need to ensure your giant sized dog’s overall health throughout its life. You can easily prevent health problems by offering your dog food which assists in the following ways:

  • Any injury or disease can have lasting effects later in a dog’s life. You can prevent some of it by:
  • Feeding high amounts of calcium during puppy years to strengthen bones. This could help prevent hip dysplasia.
  • Giving your dog high amounts of vitamins to improve the functioning of the immune system
  • Purchasing food with a high Omega oil level which aids in protecting joints from injury. This nutrient can also prevent an early onset of arthritis which is prevalent in giant breed dogs.
  • ​Pick food with low iodine levels. This could help treat or prevent hypothyroidism, another disease associated with very large dogs which can cause weight gain, hair loss and skin infections.
  • Some giant sized dogs are prone to eye diseases such as Ectropion. You can prevent some eye problems from making an early appearance by feeding your dog food which contains DHA. It plays a role in retinal health so the right food can save your dog from suffering certain diseases.
  • Giant dogs are difficult to restrain physically. Training them is essential to keep them under control, especially in public areas or when you have visitors. Help your puppy to get the most out of training by feeding it dog food with high DHA levels. This fatty acid plays an important role in the brain and cerebral cortex. Your dog’s food intake can make it smarter.

If you want to read about a really cool giant breed dog, check out the Kangal dog.


Pet owners have a huge responsibility to pick the correct food for their dog’s diet. You can become an expert at picking the ideal food for your four legged friends by keeping these facts and guidelines in mind. Consult your vet if any major health problems occur. Adjusting a dog’s diet can be the key to obtain and maintain excellent health.