A Newbie Fur Parent’s Guide To Dog Nutrition

Being a dog parent, you will have to do more than just potty training and walking your dog outside every morning. Just like humans, dogs need proper nutrition to stay healthy. However, achieving a good balance in their nutrition can take some work, especially if you’re a first-time fur parent.

Every dog is different, so one dog’s diet may not be good enough for another. The perfect diet can vary depending on the breed, size, and lifestyle. However, you can still get down to basics. To give you a better picture of what comprises a good diet plan, read the guide below:

Foods You Can and Cannot Give To Your Dog

One of your primary duties as a new parent is to know what your dog must and mustn’t eat.

A dog’s diet doesn’t have to be limited to dog food. You can serve what you have on your table, provided that it’s safe for your pet pooch. Luckily, there are plenty of the human foods your dog can eat. Blueberries, bananas, and carrots are encouraged as they can provide nutritional benefits without causing too much weight gain.

On the other hand, it’s also best to be wary about the foods they shouldn’t eat. Just because something is delicious and safe for you doesn’t mean the same is true for your dog. Chocolates, onions, avocadoes, and citruses are highly discouraged as they contain compounds that are toxic for them.

Nutrients Your Dog Needs

Just like humans, dogs need certain nutrients to live a healthy life. While it’s natural to assume that regular dog food can provide the nutrients your dog needs, it’s still best to check the label to ensure they’re getting enough. Some products might lack certain nutrients for which you’ll need to compensate through human foods. 

Nonetheless, below are six essential nutrients that your dog needs to survive. 

  • Water: Just like humans, dogs need to be sufficiently hydrated. Ideally, your dog should drink at least one ounce of water per one pound of their weight every day. However, during the summer season, it’s best to serve your dog more water throughout the day to keep them hydrated. You can even give them cold water to help them combat the heat. If you’re bringing your dog with you when you need to run some errands, make sure you bring water and a bowl.
  • Vitamins: Your dog needs to have enough sources of vitamins A, B12, C, D, E, and K. These vitamins help to boost your dog’s immune system. Your dog can get those vitamins by giving them a carrot, yogurt, pumpkin, cooked sweet potato, and beef liver. However, try not to overfeed your dog with those, and you also need to check how much nutrients they’re already getting from their dog food. 
  • Minerals: Good minerals help improve oxygen flow, nerve and muscle function, and bone formation. Your dog can get these from consuming foods high in iron, zinc, selenium, and calcium. Some examples include broccoli, spinach, and red meat. 
  • Carbs: Carbohydrates help to give your dog the energy they need. To keep them alert and active, you should give them good sources of carbs every day, such as cooked oatmeal, potato, barley, and corn. Just make sure that they’re well-cooked to keep your dogs safe. 
  • Fat: Your dog also needs to consume good fats for a healthy nervous system and to protect internal organs. A low-fat level can lead to dry and itchy skin. Some safe foods that contain healthy fat are apples, peanut butter, dairy products, fish, and chicken. 
  • Protein: Another great source of energy is protein, which can also help improve their bones, muscles, skin, and nails. You can give your dog cooked fish, chicken, pork, and beef from time to time.

How Much To Feed Your Dog

Experts recommend feeding your dog at least twice a day—once in the morning and once during dinner. Anything more than that can lead to obesity. However, you should feed puppies at least three to five times a day as they need all the nutrients they can get to grow healthy and strong.

To identify how much you need to feed your dog, you need to check their daily activities and body weight. In most cases, toy breeds should only have 1/4 to 1 cup of dog food. Small dogs should have 1 to 1 1/3 cups. Medium breeds can eat 2 to 2 2/3 cups, while large dogs should have 2 4/5 to 3 cups.

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How Much Treats Should You Give

Giving treats is a great way to train, bond with, and show appreciation for your dog.

Calories from treats should only amount to 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake. Anything beyond that cap might lead to excessive weight gain. For example, if your dog consumes 1,500 calories a day, then the calories from treats should only amount to at most 150.

Consult With Your Vet

Even if you already have a basic diet plan, know that every dog is different. Their nutritional needs can vary depending on their breed, size, lifestyle, and sensitivities. Consulting with your vet allows you to provide your dog with the best care and nutrition. Doing this prevents you from going through the guessing game.

If your pet is experiencing a certain illness or disease, they might need more nutrients to fight off the problem. Even if their symptoms are easily identifiable with the help of the internet, it’s best to consult with your vet about any necessary changes to their diet. Your vet might suggest giving vitamin supplements or increasing their human food intake to bridge the gaps in their nutrition.


Finding the right balance in your dog’s diet isn’t all that complicated. For a new parent, it might be hard at first. But, as long as you know about the food they can and cannot eat and the essential nutrients they need, you’ll be able to come up with a good diet plan. More importantly, if you check with your vet regularly, there’s no doubt you’ll do well as a dog parent.