Understanding dogs

Huge advancements in canine nutrition have made a great contribution to improving the quality of life and the life expectancy of dogs. The concept of “Health Nutrition” for individual species, including humans, is proving its worth for dogs, which depend on their owner exclusively for their food.

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© Diffomédia/Royal Canin

The role of the nutritionist

Excess and deficiency are both just as harmful to canine health, which is one of the reasons why we need to understand canine nutrition and to identify dogs’ needs in terms of quality and quantity, which are different to those of humans or cats.Contrary to a common misconception, dogs do not need any variety in their diet. They actually have very little sense of taste, mainly using their overdeveloped sense of smell to evaluate their food. As a result, the marketing of different flavours of dog foods is a totally irrelevant exercise. All they do is appeal to the owners’ mistaken idea that they are doing their dog a good turn by giving it access to a wide range of different flavours. What the dog actually values most is the same food, in the same bowl, at the same location, at the same time every day.

Nutritionists are first and foremost interested in the dog’s specific requirements, which vary depending on its size (small, medium, large, giant), physiological status (maintenance, gestation, lactation, growth, ageing, neutered, sport or work), breed (some present certain characteristics that affect dietary adaptation) and even illness (when diet becomes one of the aspects in preventing relapse or deterioration and may be a key part of the treatment). The goal of nutritionists is to meet each of the animal’s requirements perfectly, by providing all the essential nutrients in the right proportions, and maximising their digestibility and biological values by identifying the ideal preparation method. Anthropomorphism has no place in this approach. The owner is not the consumer, the dog is.

Of course, the best food in the world will do no good at all if the dog does not want to eat it, which is why palatability is so important too.

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Understanding dogs
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