Adult dogs require a balanced, nutritious diet to maintain their health and allow for tissue repair and regeneration. It's easy to pick up a bag of dog food without thinking about what your dog needs from their diet, but understanding their nutritional needs will help you choose the right kind of food for your dog. Here's an overview of the essential dietary components for health and signs of nutritional deficiencies in adult dogs:

Essential Dietary Components For Health

Your dog requires protein for healthy skin, hair and muscles. Additionally, their body can't heal properly without sufficient intake of protein, as the amino acids contained in protein are required for tissue repair. Protein also provides energy, and common sources of protein in dog food include meat, fish and cereals.

Carbohydrates are required for energy, reproduction and intestinal health. Slow release carbohydrates that are high in fibre are ideal for sweeping bad bacteria out of your dog's intestines and allowing good bacteria to flourish. Corn, brown rice and beet pulp are common sources of carbohydrates in dog food.

Without healthy fats in their diet, your dog won't be able to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A and D. Fat is also required for a healthy endocrine system, brain function and cell structure. However, overconsumption of fat is linked to disease development and diabetes in dogs in the same way it is in humans. Common sources of fat in dog food include oily fish and plant oils.

Vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium and iron, are required for bone health, skin, vision, growth and immune system support. Most commercial dog food contains a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals in the form of cereals, vegetables and meat, and some brands contain added synthetic vitamins and minerals.

Signs Of Nutritional Deficiencies

The following symptoms can indicate nutritional deficiencies in adult dogs:

  • Lethargy - If your dog seems tired all the time, they may not be eating the correct ratio of nutrients for their size.
  • Significant Change In Weight - Weight loss can indicate your dog is consuming too few calories, while weight gain can be seen in dogs that overeat in an attempt to fulfil their need for a nutrient they are not getting enough of.
  • Poor Digestion - Constipation or diarrhoea can be a sign your dog's diet is not balanced, and can also be indicative of an overgrowth of bad bacteria in their intestines.
  • Dry Skin - If your dog's not consuming enough fat or magnesium, their skin can become dry and flaky.

Selecting a high-quality dog food is essential for the health of your dog, and your vet can provide guidance on the amount of food your dog should be eating. If you're concerned your dog has a nutritional deficiency, your vet can perform a simple blood test to check their vitamin and mineral profile.