What Pets Need
Dogs and cats are just like humans - they require a diet consisting of six essential nutrients in proportions appropriate to their individual needs to maintain optimal health:
Water - Of all the nutrients, water is the most important. No living creature can live without water, because it plays a crucial role in transporting all of the other nutrients throughout the body.
Protein - Essential for healthy tissue growth and repair, and a very important source of calories in the diet. Proteins are made up of amino acids.
Fat - Containing fatty acids and glycerol, fats provide the most concentrated source of calories and add flavor and texture to food. Omega 3 and 6 are fatty acids that contribute to skin and coat condition. Fat also contains vitamins A, D, E and K.
Carbohydrates - Some would argue that this is not, in fact, essential to a dog's cats especially receive no benefit whatsoever from carbohydrates, given that they are 'true carnivores.' However, carbohydrates are a source of calories and some carbohydrates that provide fiber play a healthy role in digestion and bowel health.
Vitamins - Fat-soluble and water-soluble, vitamins play a role in helping to regulate the body's processes. Vitamins A, D, E and K are stored in the fat tissue and are not essential on a daily basis. B vitamins are water-soluble and are not stored for extended periods, so they do need to be included in a daily diet. Vitamins C and E are now being added to dog food and cat food as natural preservatives, replacing traditional chemical preservatives like BHT and exothylin.
Minerals - Calcium and phosphorous, and their proportions in relation to each other, are very important for teeth and bone health. Other minerals, including magnesium, potassium and sodium, all play a variety of roles in the diet and your dog's metabolism.
Whether your dog food or cat food provides the appropriate balance of those nutrients depends on:
- Your pet's life stage, age, activity level, environment and medical health.
- The sources and the relative proportion of individual nutritional ingredients.
- How the food is processed.