What do dogs eat?

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If you have ever had a dog as a companion animal, you will surely know what its basic needs are, including its diet. Dogs need to include proteins, lipids, carbohydrates, water and vitamins in different proportions in their diet for proper growth and maintenance of their metabolism. An excess or defect of these nutrients can cause health problems for the animal, therefore, we must know very well everything that we feed it.

If you've never had a dog at home before and want to know what the dog's diet is based on, don't hesitate to read this AnimalWised article. Next, we explain you with all the details what do dogs eat.

You may also be interested in: What do rabbits eat? Index
  1. Nutritional needs of dogs
  2. What do dogs eat?
  3. How to feed a dog?
  4. What do wild dogs eat?
  5. Forbidden foods for the dog

Nutritional needs of dogs

A dog's diet should include different ingredients such as protein, grains, fruits, vegetables, and fatty acids. In addition, the use of preservatives or colorants should be avoided as much as possible, as these additives can cause health problems. The percentage that is needed of each nutrient is different, as we will see below:

  • Protein: is he main ingredient in the diet of a dog, so we will always find it in a higher proportion. It can be protein from chicken, beef, salmon, etc. However, it is not always correct to administer very high amounts of protein to the animal, since in the long term it can cause kidney problems. In homemade diets, it should not be less than 70% of the total. In feed, the percentage of protein should be around 50%.
  • Cereals: the main cereal that usually includes the feed or homemade diets of the dogs is rice, since it is easy to digest and causes fewer allergies or intolerances than other ingredients. It must be found in less quantity than proteins. It should not exceed 10% of the total.
  • Fruits and vegetables: they provide a large amount of carbohydrates and promote the function of the intestinal tract, since they provide the necessary fiber. In this way, the dog's diet can include apple, pear, carrots, spinach, etc., always in the right amount (around 10-15% of the total daily diet). Check out the Recommended Fruits and Vegetables for Dogs in this other article..
  • Fatty acids: they are provided by oils and fats, which offer the animal a better functioning of the immune system, a correct regulation of inflammatory processes and a good repair of blood vessels, among others.
  • Vitamins: within this group we can find vitamin C, D, B3, B6 or B12, all of them necessary for numerous functions such as the formation and development of animal tissues. Its requirements are low but essential, with the minimum levels being 0.3% of the daily diet. Vitamins are essential nutrients, since the dog's body cannot synthesize them by itself and must obtain them from food. However, the administration of large amounts of vitamins can cause hypervitaminosis, being very toxic to the animal..
  • Minerals: their requirements are not very high (3% of the diet), but they are very important for the body because their main functions are to form part of the cell structure and help regulate the acid-base balance. They are also very important to build bone structures, in the case of phosphorus and calcium. Unlike the consumption of vitamins, an excess of minerals does not usually cause toxicity since the body eliminates them in most cases.

What do dogs eat?

Currently, dog food is very varied and there are several diets that we can follow. In general, we find three ways to feed our dogs: with feed, through a homemade diet or a mixed diet.


A dog can be properly fed with commercial feed good and suitable for your needs. Thus, in the market we can find feed for puppies, pregnant dogs, neutered dogs, geriatric dogs or dogs with any pathology. All of them will vary in their composition, since the needs are not the same as those of a young and healthy dog. Thus, a puppy food will include a higher percentage of proteins because these are necessary for their proper growth. Similarly, a geriatric food will provide fewer calories because the energy needs of older dogs are greatly reduced. If you just adopted a puppy, check out this other article for more details: "¿What do puppies eat? ".

However, we should always look at the composition of the feed on the same label as it to make sure that we are offering the best to our furry. In the market we can find low-end, mid-range or high-end feed. The low-end ones differ from the high-end ones in that the latter, in addition to having a higher price in the market, always have a fixed composition, that is, their ingredients do not vary according to their cost and are of higher quality. , which is beneficial for the animal because a constant change of ingredients or a sudden change of commercial brand could cause intestinal problems. This does not remove the possibility of vary from time to time the products we offer you whenever progressively so that the animal gradually gets used to new ingredients and enjoys a more varied diet. The advantage of feeding your dog with feed is the comfort of the process, since giving it the right amount is able to meet all the nutritional needs of the animal.

Now, if you wonder which is the most appropriate feed, the answer is one that is made with natural ingredients, suitable for human consumption and whose composition is adapted to the percentages mentioned above. Discover the best natural feed for dogs in this complete list.

Homemade food

Another option is to give homemade food and varied to dogs, although in these cases we must be more careful since we must always know what percentage of nutrients we are offering so that the animal does not have a deficiency or excess of these. Among the advantages of offering homemade food we find a greater palatability of the food and a greater control of what our dog eats. Delving into the homemade diet, surely you have heard about the dieta BARF, which is based on offering the dog a raw food combination (meaty bones, different varieties of meat, fish, organ meats, fruits and vegetables) since these are the ingredients that you would eat in the wild, providing some benefits such as the following:

  • Produce less bulky stools
  • They offer shine and thickness to the coat
  • Decreases tartar on teeth
  • Nutrients are not lost when cooking food
  • Reduce water consumption

However, as a disadvantage, we must mention that, if we do not know the origin of the food or it has not been previously frozen, we could run the risk of offering the animal products in poor condition, with bacteria or worms. For this reason, it is always preferable to freeze when in doubt or semi-cook the product before giving it, that is, cook it on the outside but keep it raw on the inside..

Mixed feeding

Also noteworthy is the option of offering a mixed diet, combining commercial feed with the homemade diet so that the dog does not get tired of always eating the same thing and enjoy the food more. This type of diet should not be done by mixing the feed with homemade food because these products have different digestive processes and could cause intestinal problems. Therefore, it is best to offer a few days feed and other days homemade food. Thus, it will not be necessary to cook every day and the animal will also be able to enjoy the advantages of the natural diet..

¿What dog food to choose?

Now, between the different options, ¿what to feed a dog? The answer lies in the needs of the animal and in our own economic situation. A natural diet will always be more beneficial, however, it can also be more expensive if, for example, we live with a giant breed dog. So, a mixed diet is a good option for those who want to feed their dogs with homemade food but do not have enough time or cannot buy so many ingredients, since we also find many quality feed, made with natural ingredients and whose cost it is not excessively high.

However, we must always consult with our veterinarian before the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of diet and which one best suits the needs of our dog.

How to feed a dog?

There are two methods to feed our dog: rationed or ad libitum. The first method is always recommended because that way it is easier to control the amount of food we feed the dog. However, if we leave the food bowl always full (ad libitum) for when the dog wants to help himself, there is a possibility that he is constantly eating if he is a dog obsessed with food or with a lot of anxiety, which will cause him to win a lot of weight. Thus, although on many occasions there may be exceptions, it is preferable to give the rationed food in 2 or 3 daily meals to a healthy animal.

Obesity problems in dogs

Food is very important for dogs since the appearance of numerous diseases depends on it, including obesity, as we have just mentioned. Feeding excessively or incorrectly can cause these types of problems that, although they seem insignificant, can affect the life expectancy of the dog. In addition, there are other factors that can influence the appearance of obesity, such as castration. Therefore, we have to supplement exercise with a good diet.

An animal is considered obese when its ribs cannot be easily palpated or when its weight is greater than 15% of its optimal weight, producing on numerous occasions heart and respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, etc. The consequences of obesity in dogs can be devastating, so a correct diet is essential to avoid them.

What do wild dogs eat?

Dogs that lack owners and live in nature as in their origins, consume fruit, meat, offal and bones of other animals that hunt (reptiles, birds, rabbits, hares and other mammals). As they are not domesticated, their instinct leads them to consume any food available in nature, which is why, on certain occasions, there have been cases of attacks on humans. In fact, they have large canines with which they can easily tear their prey..

Due to the fact that today there are many domestic dogs, many people wonder what dogs eat and how they live in the wild to offer their companions a diet that is as close as possible to their nature. However, as we just discussed, wild dogs hunt for food and they eat absolutely everything they need from their prey, generally starting with the viscera. At home, we cannot and is not right to offer live animals to our dogs to hunt. If you want to give your dog a diet that is as natural as possible, then you should consider the possibility of setting a BARF diet.

You will see that in the feeding of wild dogs we have not mentioned fruits, vegetables or cereals. ¿They do not consume these ingredients? ¿So why do we include them in the section to explain what domestic dogs eat? Very simple, they do eat these ingredients by feeding on the entrails of their prey. In general, the prey of dogs are herbivorous animals that eat these foods and, therefore, are found in their digestive tract. In the wild, a dog will eat between 10 and 20% of fruits, vegetables and cereals through the stomach of the animals it hunts. This percentage in the diet of domestic dogs is the same because it aims to adapt as much as possible to the nutritional needs of the dog as a species..

Forbidden foods for the dog

Now that you know what dogs can eat, you should also know that there are some toxic foods for our dogs and that we should avoid giving them to them. Among them we can highlight the following:

  • Chocolate: contains a substance called theobromine which is toxic to the animal causing heart, nervous system and kidney problems, among others. Dark chocolate contains a higher percentage of this substance, so just 100 grams of this food can kill a Yorkshire terrier.
  • Coffee and tea: they contain methylxanthines, a substance with a stimulating effect that can cause rapid heartbeat and other problems similar to those produced by chocolate.
  • Onions and garlic: they contain thiosulfate, harmful to dogs, as they cause severe gastrointestinal symptoms and anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells, as long as they are administered in inadequate amounts.

If you want to know others many toxic foods for the dog, do not hesitate to read this article: "Forbidden foods for dogs ".

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