Dogs require a balanced diet that’s formulated to their specific breed, size and age needs in order to develop and remain healthy. A vet can help you identify the optimal balance of nutrients in your pet’s food and tailor it to prevent various conditions from being triggered.

Without denying that the following nutrients are essential for your dog’s health and wellbeing, it is your duty as an owner to ensure they are in safe quantities. Even when you’re feeding your furry friend commercial pet food, you can check the list of ingredients to determine whether they respect your vet’s advice. Let’s elaborate.

1. The right type of proteins

Some might argue that, unlike cats, dogs are omnivores, and that means there are no restrictions regarding the type of protein their digestive system is able to process. However, as veterinarians often point out, certain proteins – particularly low-quality ones – pose more difficulties for the digestive tract and possess a lower rate of absorption. This is especially true for dogs suffering from renal conditions. Symptoms that the quality of the proteins in your dog’s meal is questionable include episodes of vomiting and diarrhea, noticeable loss in weight over short periods and dehydration.

2. Magnesium

Problems related to overexposure to magnesium are prevalent in dogs. A nutrient that the canine body requires in moderate quantities, magnesium-rich diets trigger numerous deleterious effects including muscle weakness, respiratory system depression, nervous/circulatory system damage and could even induce a coma. In addition, it plays a major role in the development of bladder stones.

3. Phosphorus and calcium

The reason these two nutrients are mentioned together is that dog owner shouldn’t only be careful with their individual amounts in the pet’s diet, but also the phosphorus to calcium ratios. In moderate quantities and correct ratios, both are helpful in maintaining your dog’s bones and muscles healthy. When the ratios are off, and when the intake of one or both is excessive, they have the exact opposite effect. Extra caution is recommended for the big breeds, mainly during their developmental stages.

It’s also important to note that excess of phosphorous or calcium could render your pet more vulnerable to kidney failure, and also aid in the formation of bladder stones.

4. Sodium

From regulating the blood pressure and the functioning of the circulatory system to optimizing the nervous impulses sent and received by the nerves, sodium is among the most important nutrients in a dog’s diet. The problem appears when the diet exceeds the recommended amounts and increases the risk of kidney failure, heart disease, and nervous system damage. Dehydration also occurs, when the organism is attempting to eliminate the high sodium via urine. Excess sodium usually comes from the table scraps owners feed their pets, in addition to the normal diet.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D acts as a regulator for the calcium levels in the dog’s organism. Therefore, vitamin D overdoses will also trigger a calcium imbalance, and the associated risks discussed previously. At the same time, it elevates the risk of gastrointestinal conditions as well as heart and kidney disease.

Determining the optimal quantity of nutrients

There is no one size fits all recipe for the optimal nutrient intake, because every dog is different. Having your pet examined by a specialist in a veterinary clinic on a regular basis is the only way to guarantee that you are getting expert advice on the optimal diet plan.