Dogs + Diet & Nutrition

  • Dogs are omnivores meaning that, under normal circumstances, dogs can meet their nutritional needs by eating a combination of plant and animal foods. Selecting a dog food can be a challenging task. Feeding your dog a proper diet for their life stage is one of the most important aspects to help keep them at optimal health. Your veterinary health care team can help you make good-quality diet choices and determine the correct number of calories your dog needs in a day.

  • Chronic kidney disease is frequently diagnosed in aging dogs. Nutrition plays an important role in managing CKD in dogs. Commercial diets for dogs with CKD are developed to support kidney function while maintaining body condition. A kidney support diet contains less protein, sodium, and phosphorus, and increased omega-3 fatty acids. Your veterinarian will help you choose an appropriate formulation for your dog which will slow the progression of this disease, contributing to both life expectancy and quality of life.

  • Dogs are living longer than ever meaning that they have a greater chance of developing diseases associated with advanced age. Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is the name assigned to a set of symptoms associated with behavior changes in senior dogs. Diets rich in antioxidants such as vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, L-carnitine, alpha-lipoic acid, flavonoids, and carotenoids have been shown to help slow the decline of brain function. Your veterinarian can help you choose a diet with a nutrient profile suitable for your dog.

  • Colitis is a fairly common problem in dogs manifesting as diarrhea. Dealing with colitis may boil down to working with your veterinarian to find a nutrient profile that allows your dog's gastrointestinal system to function as normally as possible. A nutrient profile which contains a high quality, high digestibility protein, low to moderate fat content, and high digestibility carbohydrates. Fiber may also play a role to benefit the colon of dogs with chronic colitis. Work with your veterinarian to assess your dog's clinical and nutritional history, create a nutritional plan, and then evaluate the success of the plan.

  • Diabetes mellitus is a disease in which the body can no longer appropriately manage the use of glucose for its energy requirements. It is a life changing condition that can be partly brought on by poor nutritional health. It is critical to work closely with your veterinarian to choose the most appropriate nutrient profile to achieve weight normalization. Insulin therapy in dogs with DM demands that dogs eat at or near the time of insulin injection. Once a dog is diagnosed with DM it is not realistic to expect that insulin injections can cease. The nutrient profile a diabetic dog eats plays a critical role in achieving glycemic control. There are several therapeutic foods that have been developed to facilitate this effect.

  • Heart disease in general, and congestive heart failure (CHF) in particular, are fairly common diseases in dogs. Chronic valvular disease and dilated cardiomyopathy are the two most common causes of congestive heart failure. Hypertension may be a contributor to heart disease and CHF. The first step toward determining the best nutrient profile to feed your dog with CHF is to work with your veterinarian to determine what, if any, other medical conditions might be present in your dog. For heart failure patients, there are some key nutritional factors to consider. Work with your veterinarian to choose the most appropriate food for your dog.

  • Nutritional management can be an effective strategy in the treatment of liver disease when used in combination with appropriate medical therapy. The goals of nutritional management of liver disease focus on controlling the clinical signs as opposed to targeting the underlying cause. Your veterinarian will work with you to help you make the best decisions on behalf of your dog with liver disease.

  • Over 60% of dogs in North America are either overweight or obese, so paying attention to the balance between activity and calorie intake is important. Nutrient formulation and portion control are the two most important aspects of weight control. Once you have chosen a formula and have calculated a reasonable daily portion based on calorie density, the best way to stay on track and prevent unwanted weight gain is to combine portion control with regular, formal weigh-ins.

  • The optimal diet varies from species to species, and contains an ideal ratio of the major essential nutrients of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, as well as adequate levels of trace nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. While a recipe for a home-cooked diet may appear to come from a knowledgeable source, ideas about what constitutes the ideal diet for dogs and cats is currently evolving. Your veterinarian can help ensure that your pet's diet is appropriate and healthy.

  • This handout discusses the risks and benefits of feeding a home-prepared versus commercial diet to your cat or dog. Topics highlighted include food safety, nutritional imbalances, and the need to ensure that any home-prepared diet has been well researched for nutritional safety and completeness.