The organism of our furry friends is very complex because it’s made up of numerous networks and systems (musculoskeletal, respiratory, coronary, endocrine, etc.). For all this to function properly, there needs to be the presence and engagement of many components that intervene in the metabolic processes required to optimise the overall operation of the organism. As a result, food specially prepared for our dogs should contain essential nutrients in their exact proportion to ensure that metabolic processes are carried out correctly.
The most important nutrient is water because it’s essential for the proper development of the body’s biochemical processes, it helps regulate temperature, and it contributes to the digestion of food, etc. Dogs get water through the food metabolisation process, but the amount contributed in this way is very low, with the highest levels of water intake coming from direct ingestion. Therefore, it’s not very important whether there’s more water or less water in processed foods.
However, the presence of other essential nutrients in our dogs’ everyday food is as important as it is significant. Their diet should contain high-quality proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, macrominerals and microminerals in the right proportion in order to guarantee the overall positive functioning of their organism.
As we saw in the article on “The biological value of food”, a balanced meal should contain quality proteins that guarantee the presence of essential amino acids but which dogs cannot synthesise by themselves, so they should be ingested through their diet because they form part of enzymes, hormones, etc. What’s more, they’re paramount for the synthesis of important neurotransmitters such as serotonin, the chemical responsible for the feeling of well-being and ultimately the synthesis of melatonin, which regulates the sleep-wake cycle. On top of this, a quality processed food should provide essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid (omega-6) and linolenic acid (omega-3), because a dog’s body cannot synthesise them by itself and they are essential for a healthy cardiovascular system, skin, fur, etc. A balanced diet should also contain properly processed high-quality carbohydrates to improve their absorption and digestibility.
Meanwhile, the presence of macro- and microminerals in the diet is absolutely essential both for biochemical processes and for the correct functioning of all the systems in the organism. For example, calcium (Ca) and potassium (P) are responsible, among other things, for the balance of extracellular and intracellular fluids. And for this balance to be guaranteed, the proportion provided by the diet must be 1.2 parts of Ca for each part of P. What’s more, to ensure the proper absorption and metabolism of these two nutrients, the presence of vitamin D is vital.
This simple example underlines the huge importance of an appropriate proportion of essential nutrients in our dogs’ everyday diets, as otherwise they would suffer from health problems in the medium or long term.
These diets should also provide fibre, which isn’t considered a nutrient in itself but is essential for regulating intestinal transit and for preventing constipation. This is because the body does not digest fibres, while they have the ability to absorb water and contribute to the formation and volume of faeces. Some of the products that contain high-quality natural fibres are pumpkins, carrots and apples.