What Dietary Needs Do Dogs Have?

What are the Dietary Needs of Dogs?No matter how much you may consider your dogs to be a part of the family, dogs still have separate dietary guidelines than humans. Nevertheless, it does not seem that these guidelines are widely known, let alone practiced. If you are concerned about the dietary needs of your dogs, keep reading.

The Basics

In general, all dogs need several types of nutrients to maintain optimal health and live long happy lives. Whether your dog needs weight management help or is at risk for malnourishment, appropriate nutrients and calorie counts are essential. They are as follows:

  • Proteins and Amino Acids
  • Carbohydrates and Fatty Acids
  • Vitamins and Minerals
  • Water

Now that we know what the required nutrients are, let’s go a bit more in-depth with regard to the requirements of each of these categories.

Proteins and Amino Acids

In order to keep your dogs healthy and thriving, you must feed them foods that are rich in proteins and amino acids. In particular, dietary proteins contain 10 much-needed amino acids that dogs cannot make on their own. Also known as essential amino acids, these amino acids provide the building blocks for many necessary active compounds and proteins. Additionally, they also help make glucose, which is necessary for making energy so your dog can exercise, run around, and have fun. Most commonly, these come from meat. However, they can also get these essential amino acids from vegetables, as long as they are supplemented with vitamin D.

Carbohydrates and Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are required to dogs’ coats and skin as healthy as possible. These most often come from animal fats as well as the seed oils of various plants. Not only do these fatty acids play a role in cell function and structure, but they also enhance the texture of the food and make their food more flavorful. Dogs with deficiencies of these fatty acids are more likely to develop vision issues and learning disabilities.


Vitamins are helpful for assisting in a wide array of metabolic activities. Although they need them in small amounts, vitamins are necessary for your dog’s health. For instance, vitamin A deficiencies are highly common among dogs and can cause issues such as skin lesions, motor skill and vision impairment, respiratory issues, and can even make them more susceptible to a variety of infections. Additionally, vitamin E deficiencies can cause issues such as reproductive failures, skeletal muscle breakdown, and can even cause retinal degeneration. The following is a list of the required vitamins and the daily requirement of each:

  • Vitamin K- 0.41 mg
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)- 0.56 mg
  • Riboflavin- 1.3 mg
  • Vitamin B6- 0.4 mg
  • Niacin- 4 mg
  • Pantothenic Acid- 4 mg
  • Vitamin B12- 9 micrograms
  • Folic Acid- 68 micrograms
  • Choline- 425 mg

It’s important not to go overboard with giving your dog vitamins. While they’re an important staple for your dog’s health, if you give them too much, it can be toxic. When feeding your dog vitamins, always be sure to follow the dosing instructions on the dog vitamin package accurately.

Furthermore, there are dog vitamins for every stage of your dog’s life from puppy vitamins to senior dog vitamins. There are even special blends such as hip and joint vitamins or lysine supplements for fur for dogs with specific needs.


Dogs all require various minerals in their diet. For instance, dogs need magnesium (daily allowance 150 mg), sodium (daily allowance 200 mg), and potassium (daily allowance 1g) for nerve impulse transmission. Additionally, they need calcium (daily allowance 1g) and phosphorous (daily allowance 0.75 g) to build healthy teeth and bones. Other needed minerals are the following:

  • Chlorine (daily allowance 300 mg)
  • Iron (daily allowance 7.5 mg)
  • Copper (daily allowance 1.5 mg)
  • Zinc (daily allowance 15 mg)
  • Manganese (daily allowance 1.2 mg)
  • Selenium (90 micrograms)
  • Iodine (220 micrograms)

Like with vitamins, be sure not to feed your dog too many mineral supplements. Too much of a mineral can potentially be toxic, so never let your dog have more than the instructed amount.


As far as water intake is concerned, dogs should be allowed to drink as much as they wish. If you want to track your dog’s water intake to make sure they’re getting enough, the general rule is that a dog should drink one ounce of water a day, per pound. This is the best way to ensure that they remain healthy and fully functional.

Overall, there are various dietary guidelines to ensure your dogs are healthy. Use this guide as a way to keep your dogs healthy for as long as possible, and consider pairing it with a dog weight gainer or weight-loss dog food.