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Dog Nutrition: Types of Dog Diets Ultimate Guide

It can be overwhelming to find the right pet food or brand for our dogs. We walk into the store, and every package claims that it is perfect for our pets, but they often don’t meet the requirements for a healthy diet. 

As pet owners, we need to research and advocate for the needs of our doggos. Trust no one until they pass the sniff test. 

At Kabo, we make sure our meals are healthy and tasty. We work with experts on dog nutrition to find the perfect balance of ingredients. Trust us, even the pickiest eaters can find the right meals here at Kabo. 

Dog Diets Through History

Dogs and humans have a long history together. Dog’s started out as work animals and transitioned over the years to man’s best friend. We have also changed what we feed dogs as our understanding of their nutritional requirements developed.

We can go all the way back to 2000 BC and find writings on what to feed dogs. A famous poet named Marcus Terentius Varro recommended feeding a dog meat, bones, and barley.

In the 1800’s everything about dog nutrition became more standardized through the emergence of veterinary nutrition. In 1909 the AAFCO was created to ensure safety guidelines for dog food. The U.S. National Academy of Sciences’ National Research Council published a document outlining the nutritional needs of dogs in the 1980s.

A Dog’s Nutrition

There are a lot of diets to choose from, but before choosing the right diet for our furry friends, we have to understand what nutrients they require in order to prevent a vitamin deficiency. Diets vary depending on a dog’s size, age, or activity level, but some things in their nutrient profile never change. 

Dogs need six basic nutrients in their diet in order to thrive and survive. Dogs require carbohydrates, protein, water, fats, minerals, and vitamins.

  • Carbohydrates: There are soluble and insoluble carbs and starches. They help dogs stay full throughout the day and energize the digestive system.
  • Protein: Protein is vital for growth and metabolism. It also has the fun function of being tasty.
  • Water: Dog’s bodies are about 70% water. Make sure your dogs are hydrated. Dogs can get the necessary fluids from drinking water and from their food.
  • Fats: People are scared of fats, but they are necessary for many reasons. Fats help us absorb vitamins. It also makes food taste good, and dogs need essential fatty acids like omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids to maintain good health.
  • Minerals: There are too many functions of minerals to summarize. Calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, and magnesium are just a few of the minerals dogs need to function.
  • Vitamins: There are both fat and water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins have so many functions, including energy metabolism. B vitamins like vitamin B12 and vitamin B6 are also essential for nervous system function. Vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D are other critical nutrients.

Read the Ingredients Labels

Labels on packaging can be quite misleading. Brands will make big promises on package labels. Some packages claim their food is “high protein,” “premium,” or “ complete and balanced.” Dog owners often take this at face value and think if it says it is complete and balanced, then their dog is getting everything they need, but it is not that simple.

Dog food is unfortunately not regulated to the same extent as human food. 

It is important to read the actual ingredients. The product could be high in protein but not have digestible protein. So an owner has to read the ingredients to see if their canine companions can digest the protein sources. 

A great way to know if the ingredients can be trusted is to see if it meets AAFCO standards. AAFCO stands for The Association of American Feed Control Officials and set standards for formulation and nutrition in the pet food industry.

The order of ingredients listed is also meaningful. Ingredients are required by law to be listed in descending order according to weight. This means that the first three ingredients listed are the most important. We want to see if the food is mainly made of filler foods or nutrient-dense ingredients.

We make sure you can trust the ingredients in Kabo meals. All of the ingredients are locally sourced and produced in Canada. Every meal is formulated to meet AAFCO standards for all life stages (including puppies!). There are no by-products meals, food coloring or artificial flavors. Every ingredient is checked upon arrival to ensure top quality. 

Doggy Diets

There are a lot of fad diets for us humans, and the same goes for our dogs. It is hard to decipher which diets are well-rounded and nutritious and which diets have the potential to leave our pups malnourished. We will break it down by diet so you can make the most informed decisions.

Is Fiber Our Friend?

Fiber is a dog’s best friend. Fiber is found in plant-based foods, it is a type of carbohydrate.  It helps us and also our dogs' digestive system. 

Fiber will help with weight management. If our pups are overweight, they will be prone to many more health complications. If our dogs are fed a high-fiber diet, they will be full with fewer calories. Green beans and sweet potatoes can be great sources of fiber.

There is a danger in having too much fiber. If a dog has excess fiber, they will not be able to absorb nutrients properly. Food is medicine and energy for the body, but food will pass straight through the dog if there is too much.

Fiber or other carbohydrates should not be the first ingredient on the package. Protein should always be first because your dog needs more of this.

Powerful Protein

Some people have the misunderstanding that dogs are carnivores, but they are actually omnivores, just like us humans. They require a balanced diet. We need to make sure our doggies get a mixture of protein, carbohydrates, and fats. We have to be careful about the quantity of protein. 

Protein is an important element of our furry friends' meals, especially our pups that are still growing or very active dogs. Protein is composed of amino acids. There are 22 different amino acids, but only ten are essential for a dog’s physiological functioning.

  • Arginine
  • Isoleucine
  • Histidine
  • Leucine
  • Methionine
  • Lysine
  • Theonine
  • Tryptophan
  • Valine
  • Phenylalanine 

Protein can be found in meats, plants, and insects. It is simply important that the combinations of protein include all of the essential amino acids.

Some protein is easier than others to digest. Egg whites, chicken, beef, lamb, and organ meats are some of the easiest proteins for dogs to digest.

Is Keto Right for Our Dogs

There are so many diets out there. We humans struggle to find balanced diets. One of the most popular diets is keto but should our dogs be on this diet?

Keto diets revolve around removing carbohydrates and replacing it with foods high in fats.This causes the body to burn fat instead of carbohydrates, which is supposed to positively affect weight loss.

Many health claims are made about the keto diet. Some claim that it can even cure cancer. The problem is there haven't been studies to prove this, and it is based on anecdotal evidence.

Carbohydrates have many health benefits. There are soluble and insoluble carbohydrates. Soluble starch creates energy through the production of glucose. Fiber is an insoluble carbohydrate. It helps keep dogs full for longer and regulates their digestion.

Vegan Versions

People choose to be vegan for health reasons but also for their beliefs. Many owners want their dogs to follow similar diets but is it actually healthy for them? The simple answer is yes, it is possible but difficult to get all the nutrition dogs need through an only vegan diet.

Let’s also comment on the negative side of a vegan diet. Certain minerals are found in meats that are not present in meat substitutes. This means that vitamin E, B12, iron, iodine, calcium, and other minerals need to be substituted. 

It is difficult to get the essential amino acids from plant protein. Owners have to be very careful to provide the correct mixture of protein through plants. Sources of plant protein include:

  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Peanuts
  • Wheat gluten 

Vegan diets for dogs are still being researched to see if it is a good, sustainable diet. We can mix the perfect plants together with all the right minerals and vitamins, but the question arises: Can the dogs actually absorb the nutrients? Some plants contain indigestible fiber for dogs which prevents them from being able to absorb nutrients.

Raw Meals

Raw meals include eating muscle and organ meat and also bones. It can also include eggs, vegetables and different fruits. 

There are some claims that a raw meat diet gives your doggy specific health benefits like having healthier skin, coats and teeth. Dogs also have shown higher levels of energy and smaller stools.

There are potential benefits, but unfortunately, there are also risks associated with a raw diet. This diet can put a dog at risk but also the human.

Studies have found that raw food has a high risk for certain pathogens. The most frequent pathogens present are Salmonella, Campylobacter and E. Coli. There is a significant increase of these pathogens in dogs’ feces compared to a kibble diet. This can be dangerous for owners as they clean up after their dogs.

Another risk is that there will be whole bones. Dogs have the potential to choke, break teeth or puncture an internal organ.

Kibble Only

Kibble has been a go-to option for dog owners. It is extremely convenient because you can buy it in bulk without worrying it will spoil. Let’s be honest, sometimes our lives are crazy and we need something to be simple. Kibble is also more cost-effective for many owners.

Owners report kibble diets having certain benefits. Their dogs have less dental plaque and healthier gums. There is less risk of contamination and bacteria.

If you have to choose between only dry food, canned or raw, choose the dry food. It is more cost effective and nutrient dense.

Kibble diets can meet the nutritional needs of dogs but you should make sure the brand is AAFCO certified. All brands can not be trusted. Some brands use vague descriptions of their ingredients. Follow these tips when finding the perfect kibble.

  • Make sure they specifically name each of their ingredients.
  • Avoid kibble with wheat and corn. These are often allergens to dogs.
  • Avoid kibble with a lot of fillers. These fillers provide no nutritional value to dogs.

We have our own Kabo kibble meals, each with their own health benefits.

When storing kibble it is best to keep it in a dry and cool place to reduce exposure to moisture and oxygen. It is recommended to keep the kibble in its original packaging which is created to keep the kibble fresh for longer. Like any other food kibble can go bad so keep your eye out for the expiration date, strange smells of change in color.

Fresh Food

Fresh food can be great for your dogs. Different meats can be prepared for man’s best friend like lamb, beef, and chicken. Some fruits and vegetables are also great additions, like blueberries, carrots, spinach, and peas. 

Fresh foods have impressive benefits on our pups. Expect to see high energy. If your dog has high energy and is eating healthy, you can expect to see positive weight changes. Their coats will look beautiful and shiny. An additional benefit will be healthy and more consistent poops. 

Research supports adding fresh food to your dog’s diet even if it is not the main source of food. Dogs, unfortunately, have a high risk of developing cancer, but there are preventative measures that can be taken. Dogs that added leafy greens to their kibble three times a week were 90% less likely to develop cancer.

Another great reason to add fresh food to your pet’s diet is that they will love it. Trust us their bowls will be empty.

The key is to make sure they get a well-balanced diet. There are specific things your dog needs so it can be helpful to follow a recipe. Meal delivery services make this simple. We make sure that our Kabo meals are from farm to dog.

We have a few great fresh recipes at Kabo.

Foods to Avoid

Sharing food with your dog can be okay as long as we know which foods to avoid or use in moderation. Keep your dog safe and avoid these foods:

  • Almonds: Dogs should never eat almonds. They can block the esophagus if not fully chewed. Salted almonds cause an increased risk to dogs prone to heart disease because they will increase water retention.
  • Chocolate: Many of us have heard that chocolate is unhealthy for our dogs but it is highly toxic to their system. Chocolate contains methylxanthines which will stop a dog's metabolic process. 
  • Cinnamon: It is not toxic like chocolate, but it can make a dog sick. Cinnamon can irritate a dog’s mouth, lower blood sugar and lead to your dog having an upset stomach.
  • Garlic: Let this be a warning that garlic is highly toxic to dogs. Be careful because it can also have a delayed reaction. Some symptoms include a quickening heart rate, increased weakness, pale gums, and possible collapse.
  • Ice-cream: This is not recommended because it is high in sugar, and some dogs are lactose intolerant. A great dessert alternative is freezing a strawberry as a refreshing treat.
  • Macadamia nuts: Never let your dog have a macadamia nut. This is probably the most important food to avoid. It is so toxic to your dog that it can actually affect the nervous system.

Is the Food Helping?

When choosing food, we need to understand its digestibility. 

Digestibility is the amount of food that is broken down in the digestive system and actually absorbed. Dog’s have an easier time absorbing some foods over others. 

When protein is highly digestible, like an egg, it can be used to help dogs’ bodies maintain and grow. Carbohydrates should not always be highly digestible. A balance of soluble and insoluble carbohydrates is ideal.

Matching the Right Diet to Our Pups

Age and activity level are two factors in determining the right diet. As our pups get older, their metabolism slows down, and they need less calories and less fat. It is important to monitor their diets to prevent weight gain, which can complicate health conditions. 

Kabo's chicken recipe is a great option for older dogs who need to monitor their weight.

Diets can also work in tangent with our dogs' medical conditions. As our dogs age, it is important to ask our vets how to meet their needs. On the other hand, our rambunctious companions are going to need a lot more calories to meet their active lifestyles.

We pay for the quality of our food. The ingredients in cheap dog foods are of cheap quality, so our pets will not easily digest them. More affordable foods are usually vegetable-based, and more expensive foods are meat-based.

Kabo makes finding the proper diet simple. It’s so easy. 

  1. First, fill out a short questionnaire about your dog.
  2. Then we will recommend meals for your dog based on their weight, activity level, breed, and age.
  3. We will then send the meals straight to your door. Don’t worry. It is already portioned out!

Transitioning to a New Diet

It can be difficult to transition a dog to a new diet. Dogs like humans can certainly be picky eaters. We have worked out a transition plan for your dog as they try our fresh food at Kabo. 

We recommend giving your dog at least seven days to transition. Follow this feeding schedule to help your buddy eat cleaner, healthier food.

  • Day 1 & 2: 75% old diet 25% Kabo diet
  • Day 3 & 4: 50% old diet 50% Kabo diet
  • Day 5 & 6: 25% old diet 75% Kabo diet
  • Day 7: 100% Kabo

We have both fresh food and kibble options at Kabo. There is a variety of meat and vegetables to ensure each pet can find the perfect recipe and enjoy switching up their meals.

Did I Find the Right Diet?

Every dog is unique and has unique needs. Maybe you are asking how do I know if this diet is meeting their nutritional needs. Here is a list of six universal signs to look out for:

  1. Their coats should be looking shiny and bright.
  2. Your pup should have a good energy level.
  3. No stinky breath.
  4. Their eyes should be clear, no films.
  5. Monitor their stools. They should have a solid stool two to three times a day.
  6. Their weight should be appropriate. You should be able to feel the dog's ribs without pressing too hard on their side.

Meet Kabo

The company was founded in the year 2019. The founders, Vino and VJ, had a dog named Kabo who became ill and passed away. The owners were left with so many questions wondering why this happened. This led them on their journey of understanding nutrition and exercise for dogs. 

Food is either medicine or poison to the body. Their experience formed the mission of our company to make an impact on our canines’ lives, including their mealtimes. 

We provide resources for owners to better understand food and its impact. We also have a convenient process to find the right food for your pup.

Don’t be Afraid to Try

We love our dogs, so we take the time to be informed about their health. There are so many options on the market for dogs. Kabo is a great option to try for pups but also owners. We are committed to “helping dogs live healthier, happier, and longer lives.

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February 20, 2024
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