Our pets have the same basic nutritional requirements as humans. We all need six essential elements for optimum health: water, protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Here is a breakdown of each element--what it does for your dog, and what the best sources are.
Provide a full bowl of fresh, clean water whenever he finishes it (or at least every day). Water is important as it plays a key role in how nutrients and wastes are transported throughout the body.2
Increase the amount of protein to make it the largest source of calories provided by the pet food. Protein plays a crucial role in a dog's diet and is responsible for health, tissue growth and repair. Meat meal is the preferable, highly concentrated form of protein you'll want to see in the ingredients list, as the water has been removed and only the digestible nutrients remain.3
Supply natural fatty acids because they're important for your dog's skin and hair condition. Plus, they add flavor and texture to her food. Look for omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, derived from fresh fish sources. These healthy fats are also suppliers and natural sources of Vitamins A, D, E and K.4
Keep some carbohydrates. Some say dogs are carnivores and, as such, have no need for grains and complex carbohydrates. But in the wild, dogs would ingest whatever is in their prey's stomach as the carbohydrate, grain and vegetation portion of their diet. So look for real vegetables, fruits and whole grain real brown rice to maintain healthy digestion and bowels.5
Check on the vitamin supply. There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble, stored in the body fat, and water-soluble, which must be replaced on a daily basis. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble, but all the complex B vitamins and C vitamins must be eaten on a daily basis for optimum dog health.6
Mind the minerals. You need to protect your dog's teeth and bone health, so calcium and phosphorous should be included in your dog's daily diet. Also include magnesium, potassium and sodium, which help to regulate your pet's body systems properly.