The Ultimate Guide to Dog Food: Nutrition, Treats, and More

Four Minutes
Jul 14, 2022

When it comes to food, most dogs aren’t picky. If they can get it in their mouth, they’ll at least try to eat it. But for owners, it can still be difficult to figure out what type of dog food our pups should eat. Let’s take a closer look at the importance of dog nutrition.

The Basics of Dog Nutrition

You might think of your pooch exclusively as a meat eater, but the truth is more complex. While they are technically carnivores, they need some nutrients that are more easily obtained from plants. This makes them omnivores.3 Their digestive systems evolved over millions of years to digest carbohydrates as well as fats and proteins. Millennia of cohabitation with humans means dogs are also able to digest complex carbohydrates, like grains and potatoes. Cooked complex carbohydrates are even easier for them to digest — another result of their time spent with us.

When it comes to the specific nutritional requirements of dogs, there are six basic categories:

●      Water

●      Fats

●      Protein

●      Carbohydrates

●      Vitamins

●      Minerals   

Where your dog gets these nutrients is less important than their quality. That means your pup could enjoy a high-quality, well-balanced vegetarian diet. Just be sure to consult your veterinarian for their approval and their help with designing a healthy diet.

Learn More About Dog Nutrition:

●      What Can Dogs Eat?

●      Can Dogs Eat Eggs?

●      Can Dogs Eat Almonds?

●      Can Dogs Eat Strawberries?

The Basics of Dog Food

Knowing which nutrients your dog needs can help you make informed purchases when it comes to buying dog food. With so many options to choose from, however, finding the right food can still feel overwhelming.

Asking your vet is the best place to start. They can help you decipher the ingredients listed on dog food and provide some recommendations. Your vet can also help you customize your dog’s diet based on their breed and life-stage.

Here are some basic tips to get started:

●      Look for high-quality ingredients. Food packed with chemical ingredients isn’t going to be the best choice for your pup. Look for components you recognize, such as poultry, beef, potatoes, and rice.

●      Pay attention to the order of ingredients. Pet food ingredients are listed by weight. The higher they are on the list, the more of that ingredient there is in the food. Keep in mind that ingredients are weighed before the food is processed. When it comes to kibble, a lot of water is lost as the food is processed. So, a dry food with meat as one of the first ingredients might not be as nutritious as it seems.

●      Favor low-calorie foods. If your pup spends most of their time indoors, their energy requirements are low. Feeding them low-calorie food can help prevent them from putting on too many pounds. It also means more food in your dog’s bowl, which makes for a more satisfying meal!

How much food should I feed my dog?

This is one part of your dog’s diet that is actually easy to figure out! Simply use this handy formula to get started:3

(30 x your dog’s weight in kg) + 70 = Daily caloric needs

If you’d prefer to measure your dog’s weight in pounds, use this formula instead:3

(30 x [your dog’s weight in lbs divided by 2.2]) + 70 = Daily caloric needs

Keep in mind that this formula is for an “average” adult dog. Your pooch will almost certainly deviate in myriad ways. Your veterinarian can help you customize your dog’s caloric intake by their lifestyle and body condition.

Learn More About Dog Food:

●      The Pros and Cons of a Raw Diet for Dogs

●      Managing Your Dog’s Weight

Dog anticipating a treat

The Basics of Dog Treats

No dog diet would be complete without treats! It’s recommended you limit treats to no more than 10% of your dog’s daily caloric intake.4 This can be given all at once or in smaller quantities throughout the day.

When it comes to deciding what type of treats your dog should eat, follow the same basic rules of dog nutrition. High-quality treats with whole ingredients are best. Avoid anything with lots of filler or unrecognizable components.

Ask your vet before giving your dog “people food.” While plenty of fruits and vegetables are safe for your pooch, introducing new foods to your dog’s diet always comes with risks. There are also some foods that should be avoided entirely, including:

●      Chocolate

●      Onions 

●      Garlic  

●      Grapes (including raisins)

Learn More About Dog Treats

●      Treats for Dogs

●      Healthy Homemade Dog Treats Recipes

●      Treats That Clean Your Dog’s Mouth

●      Calming Treats for Dogs

What’s on the Menu?

Finding the best food for your dog may seem complicated, but all it takes is a little research. This guide should help you get started. The next step is to get your vet’s help with formulating the perfect diet for your pooch.

Good food is important, but it’s just one way to keep your dog happy and healthy. Regular check-ups, grooming, and dental cleaning are essential to giving your dog the best life possible. Depending on your dog’s age and breed, you could end up spending thousands of dollars per year — and that’s not including unexpected health emergencies.5

A dog insurance policy is one of the best ways to be prepared. MetLife Pet Insurance1 is designed to fit your unique needs. Learn more about how pet insurance works to save you money and keep your furry family safe.2    

Protect your Dog

Coverage in 3 Easy Steps

Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

1Pet Insurance offered by MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is underwritten by Independence American Insurance Company (“IAIC”), a Delaware insurance company, headquartered at 485 Madison Avenue, NY, NY 10022, and Metropolitan General Insurance Company (“MetGen”), a Rhode Island insurance company, headquartered at 700 Quaker Lane, Warwick, RI 02886, in those states where MetGen’s policies are available. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC is the policy administrator authorized by IAIC and MetGen to offer and administer pet insurance policies. MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC was previously known as PetFirst Healthcare, LLC and in some states continues to operate under that name pending approval of its application for a name change. The entity may operate under an alternate, assumed, and/or fictitious name in certain jurisdictions as approved, including MetLife Pet Insurance Services LLC (New York and Minnesota), MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions Agency LLC (Illinois), and such other alternate, assumed, or fictitious names approved by certain jurisdictions.

2Provided all terms of the policy are met. Application is subject to underwriting review and approval. Like most insurance policies, insurance policies issued by IAIC and MetGen contain certain deductibles, co-insurance, exclusions, exceptions, reductions, limitations, and terms for keeping them in force. For costs, complete details of coverage and exclusions, and a listing of approved states, please contact MetLife Pet Insurance Solutions LLC.

3 “Nutrition - General Feeding Guidelines for Dogs,” VCA Animal Hospital

4 ”The Right Way to Treat Your Pet,” Fetch by WebMD

5 ”The Cost of Dog Parenthood in 2022,” Rover