Making homemade dog food allows you to cater to your dog’s likes and dislikes. You have control over what ingredients your dog is eating. However, when making homemade dog food, it is essential to include the appropriate ratios of nutrients in their food to ensure a balanced diet.
Meat, Protein and Amino Acids
Dogs are meat eaters by nature and require protein in their diet. They require 23 different amino acids for optimal health, but are only able to make 13 of these on their own. The other 10 amino acids must come from protein sources. How much protein your dog’s diet needs depends on a few factors. One of those factors is protein digestibility. Not all proteins are equal. For example, eggs have the highest digestibility value while plant proteins have the lowest. Diets that include highly digestible proteins require less protein quantity because your dog is able to break them down into amino acids more efficiently.
Age and Meat Recommendations
Age and stage of development is a factor when determining how much protein to feed. The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends puppies or pregnant and nursing dogs receive 22 percent protein in their diet while adult dogs receive at least 18 percent. However, this number also is dependent on the digestibility of the protein sources. Veterinarian David McCluggage recommends that protein sources make up 25 to 50 percent of a dog’s diet.
Vegetables and Grains
Vegetables and grains are both considered carbohydrates. Carbohydrates provide glucose for energy, as well as dietary fiber. There are no minimum recommendations for vegetables or grains for your dog’s diet because they are not essential for dogs. Dogs have the ability to convert proteins into glucose and energy. However, this takes away protein necessary to turn into those essential amino acids, so adding vegetables and grains are beneficial. Vegetables and grains contain dietary fiber to help keep your dog’s digestive tract regular. Vegetables provide a source of necessary vitamins and minerals. Recommended grains and vegetables include carrots, broccoli, peas, sweet potatoes and brown or white rice. The ratio of these ingredients depends on how much protein you serve, as well as another essential dietary component -- fat.
While you may try to keep fat low in your diet, it is essential for a healthy skin and coat for your dog. In addition, fats provide a high energy source for dogs. They promote absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. The amount of fat to include in the diet depends on your dog’s age. The Association of American Feed Control Officials recommends 8 percent for puppies and pregnant or nursing dogs and 5 percent for adult dogs. Commercial dog food contains between 5 and 15 percent fat while puppy food contains between 8 and 20 percent. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are essential fatty acids. Deficiencies in these fatty acids can result in dry skin dull coats.
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