8 Crucial Steps to Improve Your Dog’s Nutrition

Many owners worry about providing their dog with a healthy, balanced diet. Here are some easy steps you can take to reach this goal!

Jun 23, 2024byDallin Darger

steps to improve your dogs nutrition

If you’ve been concerned lately that your dog isn’t getting an optimal diet, you’re not alone! Most pet dog owners, especially those with a bit less experience, find themselves unsure of how to guarantee a healthy mix of nutrients. So, how do you begin tweaking your dog’s diet and improving meal quality?

Let’s discuss 8 simple and highly effective ways that you can quickly upgrade almost any pet dog’s nutrition!

1. Carefully Examine Food Labels

Image by Open Pet Food Facts
Image by Open Pet Food Facts

It’s no secret that advertising often offers a skewed and distorted picture of any product, and this is no less true for dog food. When you’re shopping for your pet dog’s meal plan, it’s best to skip the commercials and go straight to the nutritional labels.

Now, what type of nutritional information is most crucial? Some key metrics to look at are:

  • First ingredient listed (legally, this will be the greatest ingredient in the package by weight)
  • Remaining listed ingredients, which often contain various animal byproducts
  • Sell-by date
  • Overall quantity (usually listed by weight)
  • Feeding directions

2. Dry or Canned Dog Food?

white dog kibble bowl
Photo by M Burke on Unsplash

Owners often fret about the nutritional benefits of canned dog food compared to dry kibble. Is there a noticeable difference and, if so, which one is better for your pup? This can actually be a complex question, as both types have their own benefits and drawbacks.

Due to its added moisture content and generally higher-quality flavor, wet food can help boost your dog’s overall enjoyment and satisfaction while eating. Dry food, on the other hand, offers canine dental health advantages and a more flexible feeding arrangement.

Overall, the two types of dog food are pretty evenly matched, and your pet won’t face serious nutritional consequences no matter which one you choose.

3. Choosing a Kibble Brand

metal dog food bowl
Image by kalhh from Pixabay

If you do opt to buy kibbles as part of your dog’s diet, there are some basic guidelines you can follow when picking a brand. First and foremost, it’s a good idea to consider physical factors. Your dog’s weight and breed, age, and taste preferences will all come into play here.

Large dog breeds will benefit from a kibble formula rich in lean proteins. Smaller dogs, on the flip side, usually thrive when you choose kibble brands that focus on healthy digestion and allergy-friendly ingredients. Likewise, puppies require ingredient ratios that provide high levels of calcium and phosphorus.

4. Add Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

dog eating carrot
Photo by Samson Katt

Wondering if your dog’s diet includes an adequate amount of vitamins and fiber? Adding a small portion of fresh fruits and veggies into the equation is an excellent way of keeping your bases covered with these micronutrients. Alternatively, you may just want to spoil your pet with a healthy snack every now and again, which is totally fine!

Healthy fruits for dogs include apples, bananas, blueberries, oranges, and pears. Some fruits that dogs should not eat under any circumstances are grapes, cherries, and avocados. For vegetables, you can incorporate broccoli, carrots, celery, and green beans. But, steer clear of asparagus, wild mushrooms (store-bought are usually fine), or onions.

5. Mix in Oils, Enzymes, and Proteins

dog next to man cooking food
Photo by Nastya Korenkova

For even more nutritional variety, it’s a good idea to focus on often-neglected food sources. You can feed your dog healthy digestive enzymes, for example, by occasionally mixing a small portion of yogurt or cottage cheese into their normal food. On that same note, DIY dog treats like a peanut butter-and-banana combo can add a little extra boost of protein.

An excellent way to improve your pup’s immune system is by adding fish oil to their diet. Fish oils contain fatty acids that can help protect a dog’s physical and mental health!

6. Focus on Balance and Variety

dog climbing on counter
Photo by Chewy on Unsplash

One crucial component of optimizing your dog’s nutritional intake is adopting a mindset revolving around balance. This can start with making simple and basic adjustments to create some variety. If you routinely feed your pet dog chicken-based kibble brands, for example, you might want to occasionally shift gears with a beef or pork product.

In that vein, if you mainly give your dog fruit treats like apple or pumpkin snacks, you can always try switching things up with vegetable treats. Either way, fruits and vegetables are both still excellent alternatives to rawhide, heavily processed food, and other unhealthy options!

7. Incorporate Home-Cooked Meat

meat cooking on grill
Image by Andreas Lischka from Pixabay

It’s no secret that dogs are committed meat lovers, and nearly all of the best dog food brands, dry or canned, use meat products in their formula. But, if you’re concerned that nutritional value is being lost in the processing and packaging process, you can always go straight to the source!

It’s well-established that you can pack a huge nutritional punch by feeding your dog fresh meat sources. Whether it’s lightly-seared beef, plain chicken, or ground turkey, your canine friend is sure to be grateful for the improved taste and nutrients.

8. Monitor Results and Adapt

french bulldog high five
Photo by Kabo on Unsplash

Finally, we come to arguably the most important step in improving a pet dog’s nutrition: Keeping an eye out for any changes. If your pup seems happier, healthier, and more energetic, then you’ll know you’re on the right track with your changes! You can keep steadily introducing minor tweaks like new protein sources, a different kibble brand, or homemade, DIY fruit and veggie treats.

But, if you notice a drop in mood or energy on the part of your pet, it’s best to revert to their original diet. If the change is drastic enough, it’s also a good idea to consult with your vet.

Dallin Darger
byDallin Darger

Dallin is a passionate, seasoned pet owner and enthusiast. He has, over the course of 27 years, owned and loved a litany of breeds, from Labrador retrievers and calico cats to angelfish and neon tetras. Much of his free time is spent researching and learning everything he can about unfamiliar and exciting types of wildlife.