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Canine Nutrient Chapter 1

Updated: Apr 13


As we age, our health becomes a top priority. This applies not only to humans but also to our furry friends. As such, I have become increasingly health-conscious for myself and my dog, Milton, who is 6.5 years old. It's crucial for us to get the proper nutrients in the right amounts, especially as we both enter middle age (I am 42! ouch). While a lot of information is available online about the best diets for dogs, including superfoods and balanced recipes, it can be overwhelming to sort through it all. To ensure that we are getting the proper nutrients, I have enrolled in a Canine Nutrients diploma course at the ISCP.

As I go through the course material, I want to share some notes I made from the blog posts. I'm not a science expert and I don't know much about canine nutrition except what I learned online. As a nutrition beginner, I'll give you my raw thoughts and hopefully help you understand more about topics you're curious about.


Homemade dog food
Homemade beef stew

One interesting topic to share is about the essential vitamins and minerals for dogs. While it can be challenging to achieve a truly balanced diet every day, it's important to know that it's perfectly fine to achieve it over a stretch period of time, such as a week or every 10 days, by providing a variety of food. There are two types of nutrients: macro and micro. Macro nutrients, such as proteins, fat, and carbohydrates, are required in larger amounts as they provide the fundamental materials that make the body work by providing energy. To maintain a healthy body, it's crucial to consume a balanced diet that includes both macro and micro-nutrients in the correct ratios. Micro-nutrients, such as vitamins, minerals, and other trace elements, are essential nutrients needed in smaller quantities for metabolism. However, more isn't always better when it comes to micro-nutrients. Overconsumption of certain minerals can cancel out others, such as excessive calcium intake, which can deplete the body of magnesium. Therefore, it's important to carefully approach micro-nutrient consumption for optimal health and well-being. Below is a chart to illustrate how two minerals can deplete each other.


mineral wheel


A term that frequently comes up in discussions of canine diets is "amino acids." There are two types of amino acids: essential and non-essential. Essential amino acids cannot be produced or stored by a dog's body and must be obtained through diet. Non-essential amino acids, on the other hand, are produced by dogs themselves. According to my class material, essential amino acids can often be found in protein sources. Additionally, they can be found in foods like eggs, white fish, and some types of chicken.

There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in the body, while water-soluble vitamins cannot be. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E, and K, while the water-soluble vitamins are B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, B12, and C. Livers contain all the Vitamin B complex needed in the diet. If you cook for your dog, add organs like the liver to provide water-soluble vitamins. Dogs synthesize vitamin C (how cool!) and don't need additional vitamin C unless a health condition calls for it. Unlike humans, we swallow vitamin C in bulk when we feel that itch in the throat.

It is important to understand the role of essential minerals in your pet's diet.


instant pot recipe for dogs, homemade beef stew
Homemade beef stew for dogs

Two sub-groups of minerals fall under this category: macro-minerals and trace minerals. Macro minerals are required in large amounts and are present in the body, while trace minerals are necessary in smaller amounts. Both are essential for the health of your furry friend. While most trace minerals can be found in meat, fish, and vegetables, calcium is absent in many ingredients commonly used to cook for dogs. Therefore, it's crucial to pay extra attention and add a calcium source to homemade meals. There are several excellent sources of calcium, including bones, tripe, hempseeds, chia seeds, seaweed, and eggshells. According to an online resource, adult dogs need about 50mg of calcium per 1kg of body weight. For instance, if your dog weighs 20kg, he needs approximately 1000mg of calcium. Understanding the importance of essential minerals and incorporating them into your dog's diet can help ensure their overall health and well-being. However, I have to admit, after doing so much research on calcium, I am not 100% sure and confident about how to add a sufficient amount of calcium to my cooking, especially when too much calcium can cause problems in the kidneys. I would be quite conservative on adding eggshell powder to the food.


Oh gosh… the more I study canine nutrients, the less I feel comfortable cooking for him. Who feels the same?




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