The dog has not the same nutritional requirements as Man. Consequently, it’s not a good thing for him to eat "like his masters." His daily intake should include, in a balanced way, all the nutrients essential to his health, taking into account his specific features: breed, size, age, activity. This balance which strives to meet as closely as possible the specific and unique requirements of every animal is the objective of Health Nutrition.
Unlike Man who is an omnivore whose body has adapted to foods as varied as meat, vegetables and fruit, the dog has a highly targeted intestinal flora which is 1,000 times less dense. For that reason and many others, it is a serious mistake to consider that the dog may be fed like Man.
While the dog’s diet must satisfy all his needs, without any deficiency or excess, to ensure he stays fit and full of energy all his life long, Health Nutrition enables to meet his nutritional requirements according to his size, his age, his physiological condition (entire or sterilized...) and his activity, but also to sensitivities specific to each dog population. There are nearly 400 breeds that show great diversity.
The extent of the weight and size ranges between the different canine breeds is one of the largest in the animal kingdom. It goes from the Chihuahua weighing 1 kg to the Saint Bernard weighing 100 kg or more, i.e. a 1 to 100 ratio. This range results in morphological, physiological, metabolic and behavioral differences, with major consequences on health and diet. Thus, the higher the adult dog’s weight is, the more his energy requirement per kilogram decreases. Consequently, a small breed dog should receive a food with a higher energy–and fat–concentration, than a medium breed dog. In large breed dogs, the increase in energy density enables to decrease meal volume and thus to compensate for their more limited digestive capacity. The energy concentration increase also implies an increase in concentrations of protein, minerals, vitamins... As for the kibble shape and texture, it should be suited to the size, shape and strength of jaws to promote proper prehension, without wastage, and encourage crunching.
A working dog, such as for instance a hunting dog or a rescue dog, will not have the same nutritional requirements as a city dog going out on a leash only twice a day. The fact is that, within a single breed, differences can be found between working champions and beauty champions. This is not a matter of fashion, but of specialization.
A female who expects puppies has increased requirements as regards protein, energy and minerals as early as the 6th week of gestation. Then, lactation causes again a considerable increase in her nutritional requirements due to the exceptional richness of milk and to the quantity to be supplied. A 25-kg bitch who has given birth to 6 puppies will reach maximum production, i.e. 2 liters a day, when her puppies have approximately three weeks of age. Only a specific diet enables to meet such needs.
Certain dogs, especially in small-sized breeds, have an exclusively urban and essentially "Indoor" lifestyle, i.e. they live indoors. The risk of excess weight gain should then be especially considered in these dogs. They do have little opportunity to expend their energy and the relationship uniting them to their owner is very affective. The latter’s temptation to "spoil" his animal present at all moments of daily life may generate nutritional imbalances. A Health Nutrition food suited to these Indoor MINIS and provided in the recommended quantities enables to prevent this risk and to preserve their fitness weight. As for food rewards, they should be done away with, except if they observe food requirements and are integrated into the daily food intake.
Before being considered as aged, the dog reaches the age of maturity, when the signs of aging are not yet visible. It is possible to accompany this maturity by an anti-aging Health Nutrition food that will help him retain his vitality and fight against the effects of cell aging.
When the dog has spent 75 to 80% of his life expectancy, he can then really be considered as aged. Health Nutrition may have a preventive role in many cases of chronic diseases accompanying aging, or enable to limit the expression of clinical symptoms. Vitamins E and C, taurine, lutein and betacarotenes thus support the natural defenses of the aged dog when they are integrated in the right quantities. The essential fatty acids in fish oil (omega 3) and borage (omega 6) contribute to preserving skin and coat health.
Aged dogs do not make up a homogeneous group. The diet of the aged dog in good health should be differentiated from that of the sick aged dog. Regular veterinary examinations are indispensable. They aim at detecting possible body failures at kidney, heart... level as early as possible.