Essential Components of a Canine Diet

An optimal dog diet contains a number of essential components. Depending on the breed, size, and lifestage of your dog - and not to mention its unique lifestyle and medical circumstances - it’s important to understand precisely what nutrients your dog needs to remain in good health.

To get to grips with why your dog needs a tailored diet, read on and discover what each essential nutrient does.


Dogs are classed as omnivores. Like us, they need a combination of plant and animal food sources in their diet in order to get sufficient levels of protein.

Protein is a micronutrient, made up of vital amino acids. These are what every dog needs to stay healthy and full of energy. Protein is a nutrient that’s needed right across the body, from the teeth to their muscles, and from their hormones to their antibodies, and because the body doesn’t store protein, it’s an essential part of your dog’s diet.

Although this covers the basics, the specific amount of protein for the right dog diet can vary due to a range of factors. Depending on your dog’s breed, size and life stage, you’ll find different formulations offer varying amounts of protein. For instance, puppy food contains higher quantities of protein, as do active food blends.

It is important to get the right level of protein in your dog’s diet. Too much, and it can result in things like skeletal problems in puppies. Too little, and their essential bodily functions won’t be properly supported.


If you’ve ever taken a closer look at your own diet, you’ll know the differences between saturated, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats. This is essentially how dietary fats are classified, and your dog needs a combination of them for their body to function properly.

Just like protein, fatty acids are a macronutrient. That covers all the three types of fats above. Some of these fats can be made in the body,while others need to be supplied in your dog’s food. Apart from being another key energy source, fats supply essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and help the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Without all these nutrients, your dog won’t be able to maintain a healthy nervous system, organs or even regulate their body temperature.

The balancing act for fatty acids will, again, depend on your dog. If the levels are too low, they won’t be able to maintain healthy bodily functions. Too high, and they can put on weight, triggering conditions like pancreatitis, cardiovascular diseases, and other heart problems.


As another macronutrient, carbohydrates are necessary for growth and maintenance across the body. Your dog can produce their own carbohydrates, but because they’re the body’s main fuel source, it’s also an essential component in a healthy dog diet.

Carbs come from food sources like fruit, vegetables, grains, and pulses. The type of carbohydrate comes down to the food source - for instance, vegetables tend to give the body more complex carbohydrates. Ultimately, they provide the body with glucose, which is the fuel your dog needs to keep going.

Carbohydrates can also supply the body with nutrients, vitamins, and antioxidants, but not all carbs are equal. To give your dog the best balance, you’ll need the right level and type of carbs to keep them in optimal health. Too little and they won’t get all the benefits good carbs offer; and if they get too much, and the excess will be stored as fat.