What’s in the Bag: A Canine Companion’s Guide to Dog Nutrition 

dog nutrition

Dog Nutrition

Maybe your pup dines on freshly prepared chicken breast served from a silver platter. Maybe your dog loves to plunge head-first into a bowl of name-brand dog food. Or perhaps they get whatever table scraps “accidentally” fall to the floor. For as many puppy tummies exist, there are just as many dog nutrition plans available.  

For owners everywhere, it can be challenging to decipher which is the best way to feed their dogs. There are literally hundreds of types of food lining the shelves of any pet food aisle, and we haven’t even reached the refrigerated section yet.  

At Vitalize®, our team is made up of dog lovers just like you. We also want the best for our own dogs. Nutrition is top of mind because we know that good nutrition influences so many other things: overall health and well-being, coat and skin health, dental health, and general attitude.  

That is why we have created this blog to help you further understand the importance of dog nutrition, what truly is important and what isn’t, and how to give your dog the best diet possible without breaking the bank. 

What’s In the Bag? 

To thrive, dogs need a balanced diet that includes essential nutrients to support their overall health, growth, and well-being. While there are many brands and varieties of dog foods to choose from, let’s explore the key nutrients every dog needs for optimal health. 


Proteins are vital for the growth, maintenance, and repair of tissues. They are made up of amino acids. Like most living beings, they are essential and must be obtained from the dog’s diet.  

Proteins are sourced from: 

  • Meat 
  • Fish 
  • Eggs 
  • Dairy products 
  • Plant-based sources like soy and legumes. 


Fats provide a concentrated source of energy and essential fatty acids, and they are necessary for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are particularly important for skin health, coat condition, and inflammatory response, and they are especially vital for your active dog. 

Healthy fats can be found in: 

  • Fish oil 
  • Flaxseed oil 
  • Chicken fat 
  • Vegetable oils. 


Carbohydrates provide energy and are a source of fiber, which aids in digestion. While they are not strictly essential, they are a useful part of a balanced diet. 

Carbohydrates are part of a balanced diet, and can be found in: 

  • Whole grains (brown rice, oats) 
  • Vegetables 
  • Fruits. 


Vitamins are crucial for various metabolic functions and overall health.  

Key vitamins and their uses include: 

  • Vitamin A: Important for vision, skin, and coat health. 
  • Vitamin D: Helps with calcium absorption and bone health. 
  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant that supports immune function. 
  • Vitamin K: Necessary for blood clotting. 
  • B Vitamins: Important for energy metabolism, red blood cell production, and nervous system function. 


Minerals are essential for bone health, nerve function, muscle function, and overall metabolic processes. Important minerals include: 

  • Calcium and Phosphorus: Vital for bone and teeth health. 
  • Potassium: Important for muscle function and fluid balance. 
  • Magnesium: Necessary for enzyme function and energy production. 
  • Iron: Essential for the formation of red blood cells. 
  • Zinc: Supports immune function and skin health. 
  • Selenium: An antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage. 


Fiber aids in digestion helps maintain a healthy weight, and can prevent constipation. It is particularly important for dogs with digestive issues. 

Fiber can be sourced through: 

  • Vegetables 
  • Fruits 
  • Whole grains. 

Amino Acids 

In addition to proteins, specific amino acids like taurine and arginine are essential for dogs. These amino acids play critical roles in heart function, eye health, and overall metabolism. 


Though listed last, it certainly isn’t the least important. Water is the most essential nutrient. It is involved in every metabolic process, regulates body temperature, and is critical for maintaining health and hydration.  

Though most pet foods contain some water, it is vital to ensure that your dog has access to clean, fresh water daily. Most people keep the water dish close to the food bowl to encourage food and water intake simultaneously. 

Provide a Balanced Diet 

To ensure your dog receives all the essential nutrients listed above, it’s important to feed them a balanced diet that includes high-quality commercial dog food. These dog foods are formulated to meet the nutritional standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO).  

That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with homemade food. Homemade diets can also be nutritious. However, they should be carefully planned and ideally reviewed by a veterinarian or a pet nutritionist to ensure they meet all of your dog’s nutritional needs. 

Let’s look at some special trends or diets that pet owners might be considering for their fur babies now and in the future. 

Dog Nutrition Trends Pros & Cons 

Dog owners often explore various trends and diets to ensure their pets receive optimal nutrition and health benefits. Just like humans, who circle through various diet and nutrition phases, dogs are not immune to similar diets. Here are some specific diets and trends that have gained popularity over time. 

Grain-Free Diet 

Grain-free diets eliminate grains like wheat, corn, and soy from the dog’s diet. These diets often substitute grains with vegetables and legumes. 

  • Pros: Benefits dogs with grain allergies or sensitivities. 
  • Cons: Some studies suggest a possible link between grain-free diets and heart disease (dilated cardiomyopathy or DCM) in dogs. 

Raw Food Diets (BARF Diet) 

The Biologically Appropriate Raw Food (BARF) diet consists of raw meat, bones, fruits, and vegetables. 

  • Pros: Claims to offer improved coat condition, increased dental health, and energy levels. 
  • Cons: Risk of bacterial contamination and nutritional imbalances. Requires careful handling and preparation. 

Homemade Diets 

For some dog owners, the best way to ensure quality dog nutrition is to make their food yourself. Homemade diets involve preparing your dog’s food from scratch using fresh ingredients. These diets can be more specifically tailored to a dog’s dietary needs. 

  • Pros: You have control over ingredients and quality.  
  • Cons: Time-consuming and requires careful balancing to ensure nutritional completeness. Often needs veterinary guidance. 

Commercial Fresh & Refrigerated Foods                            

Have you noticed the refrigerated or freezer section in the pet aisle lately? This didn’t get placed there mistakenly. More and more pet food stores and pet departments have added these for pet owners’ shopping convenience.  

These diets use fresh ingredients, are minimally processed, and often can be delivered to your door. 

  • Pros: High-quality ingredients and convenience. Often formulated by pet nutritionists. 
  • Cons: More expensive than traditional kibble or canned food. Requires refrigeration. 

Limited Ingredient Diets (LID) 

LID diets use a minimal number of ingredients to reduce the risk of food allergies and intolerances. A homemade diet or raw food diet could be examples of an LID. 

  • Pros: Easier to identify allergens, and is a good alternative for— dogs with food sensitivities. 
  • Cons: Can be more expensive and limited in variety. 

Novel Protein Diets 

Novel protein diets use uncommon protein sources like duck, venison or even kangaroo instead of typical proteins like chicken or beef. 

  • Pros: Helps manage food allergies and sensitivities. 
  • Cons: Can be more expensive and harder to find. 

Vegetarian or Vegan Diets 

Vegetarian or vegan diets exclude animal products entirely. Speaking frankly: dogs are not naturally vegan, nor do they “choose” that diet. So, it’s important to know they’re not going to naturally have all their nutritional needs met when you cut out easy sources of protein like meat. Vegetarian or vegan diets for your dog will only contain products like fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes.

Though this dietary plan can theoretically work with the right nutritional supplementation, you absolutely need to consult with your veterinarian. Talk to your vet if you are not feeding your dog meat or a formulated food. 

  • Pros: Pet owners concerned about animal welfare use this as an ethical choice for their animals, or it could be necessary for dogs with specific allergies. 
  • Cons: Dogs are omnivores and may require careful supplementation to meet all nutritional needs. 

High-Protein, Low-Carb Diets 

Similar to the human keto diet, these diets emphasize high protein and low carbohydrate intake. This diet is particularly helpful for active or high-performing dogs. 

  • Pros: Can help with weight management and muscle maintenance. Good for active or working dogs. 
  • Cons: May not be suitable for dogs with kidney issues. Requires careful formulation to avoid nutrient imbalances. 

Freeze-Dried & Dehydrated Foods 

Freeze-dried and dehydrated diets involve minimally processed food that retains most nutrients and requires rehydration before feeding. 

  • Pros: Offers a convenient, long shelf life. Typicaly is nutritionally dense. 
  • Cons: Can be expensive. Needs proper storage and preparation. 

Considerations When Choosing a Diet 

Regardless of what type of diet you ultimately decide to feed your dog, nutrition is king. You need to make sure that you provide your fur baby with a balanced diet and that your dog always has clean, fresh water. If you are not sure what type of diet or what type of food to buy your dog, you can also take these factors into consideration.  

Life Stage 

Puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs have different nutritional requirements. Puppies need more overall nutrients, vitamins, and minerals until they are a year old. Not only are they more active, but they are growing and developing, which also requires more nutritional components. 

Most adult dogs will live on a maintenance formula unless they have a specific health condition. A diet for senior dogs will vary depending on their condition. Some require fewer calories, some more. This can make juggling overall dog nutrition difficult, especially if you’re not aware of their needs as they age. It is always best to check with your veterinarian to get the diet best for your dog. 

Health Conditions 

Dogs with specific health issues may need tailored diets. For instance, a dog with allergies, kidney disease, or another ailment will likely need a specific diet. Female dogs in gestation or lactation need food specifically formulated for reproduction. 

Breed and Size 

Nutritional needs can vary based on the breed and size of the dog. Some breeds are more active and, therefore, will need more calories to burn than their less active counterparts. Surprisingly, small breeds have a higher metabolic rate and, therefore, might require more frequent meals or a free-choice feeder. They will digest their food quickly. Bigger breeds actually require less food because the metabolic rate is slower, their stomachs are larger, and they digest more slowly. 

Vitalize® Completes Your Dog Nutrition 

No matter what diet you decide to follow or how you decide to feed your dog, include Vitalize® in your daily routine. Vitalize is a line of supplements for horses, dogs and cats with proven solutions to keep your animal healthy and performing.  

Vitalize is powered by two proprietary ingredients: AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility, and MHB3®, a patented high molecular weight hyaluronic acid. With Amaferm improving digestibility, we know that your dog will be healthier, as 70% of the immune response is found in the digestive system. Further canine studies show that dogs that have been fed Amaferm experience fewer stillbirths, produce larger litters, and wean more puppies.  

Here is a rundown of the products Vitalize offers. 

Vitalize® Dog 

Vitalize® Dog is a granular vitamin and mineral supplement for dogs designed to support breeding and performance. It contains AO-Biotics® Amaferm®, a prebiotic research-proven to enhance digestibility, omegas for healthy skin and hair, and a high-quality blend of vitamins and minerals for daily support of any diet.  

Vitalize® Alimend® K9  

Vitalize Alimend K9 is a liquid product for dogs designed to support gastric health and GI tissue and which may relieve occasional gastric issues. In addition to Amaferm, it contains MHB3®, a patented high molecular weight hyaluronic acid that coats the stomach and supports GI tissue integrity. It also contains beta-glucans to support the gut and immune system.  

Vitalize® Dog Gel  

Vitalize Dog Gel is a prebiotic and nutrient-rich gel for dogs. It immediately supports the digestive and immune systems. It contains Amaferm and MOS to help normalize gut microflora and the immune system. The gel works fast to support appetite and hydration.  

Vitalize® Trixsyn® Canine  

Vitalize Trixsyn Canine is a liquid product for dogs. It uses hyaluronic acid to support joint health. All Trixsyn products feature MHB3®, a patented high molecular weight hyaluronic acid. This ingredient supports hip and joint health and boosts mobility.  

Vitalize® Trixsyn® Canine Performance  

Vitalize Trixsyn Canine Performance is a liquid product for dogs that supports total mobility utilizing hyaluronic acid. It supports hip, joint, and soft tissue health. The performance formula helps maintain a normal inflammatory response and supports normal exercise recovery.  The ingredients feature MHB3 and astaxanthin, a natural red algae-derived antioxidant. Astaxanthin assists with soft tissue health, muscular recuperation, and exercise recovery.  

The Final Word 

We hope you have found this blog useful. Yes, there are a plethora of dog foods and dog supplements to provide dog nutrition to your favorite four-legged companion. However, you can’t go wrong with a few final words of advice. 

Always consult a veterinarian. Your animal doctor knows what’s best for your dog. Listen to him or her, and make sure to have your dog examined annually. That is the best way to build a veterinary-client relationship with your dog and the vet. That also helps with dog anxiety, and the dog won’t think going to the vet has to be just for troubleshooting or sickness. 

Read and follow labels. We cannot emphasize this enough. Even on our Vitalize products, we put labels there for a reason, and if you don’t read them, your dog might not be getting the best nutrition possible, regardless of how good the nutrients are in the bag. 

Monitor your dog’s health. Just because he or she licks the bowl clean every time, doesn’t necessarily mean that food is the best option. Does your dog have bright eyes, a shiny coat and seem happy and active? Those are good signs. If those change, take note and consult your veterinarian. 

Get your Vitalize Today!    

Up the game on your dog nutrition, by providing it Vitalize as part of its daily diet. Get your Vitalize today. We have made purchasing Vitalize as easy as possible.   

You can visit your local dealer to purchase Vitalize products. Locate a dealer near you, today.   

Perhaps you prefer the convenience of online shopping. You can shop online and have Vitalize delivered right to your front door.   

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