🦴 Nutrition

Dog Nutrition 101: What to Feed Your Dog

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February 17, 2021

Key Takeaways

As proud pet parents we always want our canine companions to have access to high quality food that meets their dietary requirements. However, it can be difficult to choose the type of food that is best for your dog. There are numerous canine food options available today, so it is crucial to understand each one before serving them to your pooch. 

This guide will discuss canine nutritional requirements, the various types of dog foods, and the best fresh food delivery services for dogs to help you make an informed decision about your canine’s diet. Let’s start with dog nutrition.

What Nutrients Does Your Dog Need?

If you are familiar with dieting or fitness in general, you may already be aware of the three main macronutrients. These are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. 

You may already have your own preconceived notions about which of these macronutrients should be consumed in large quantities, and which should be eaten more sparingly. However, your canine’s nutrition requirements will be vastly different from your own. Let’s look at each macronutrient and their importance in your dog’s diet.


Proteins are the essential building block in muscles. They are composed of amino acids, and are needed to help the body repair cells and build new ones. This makes proteins an essential macronutrient for both humans and canines.

Veterinarians recommend that 15 - 23% of your dog’s diet consist of protein. These proteins can be derived from animal sources such as lamb, beef, or fish meal. Proteins can also be derived from plant sources such as lentils or chickpeas. Each of these protein types is important for different functions, so it is essential for your dog’s diet to feature a mix of both.


Carbohydrates are the sugars, fibers, and starches found in various types of food. They are commonly associated with dishes consisting of grains, pasta, and bread. Carbohydrates are an essential part of human diets as they provide energy for your brain, kidneys, and nervous system to function. However, they are less vital than other macronutrients in your canine’s diet.

Your canine’s ancestors rarely consumed carbohydrates, as they mostly fed on meat from wildlife. As a result, modern day canines do not require carbohydrates in their diet either. In fact, you could feed your canine a completely carb-free diet without any running into any problems.

Despite this, many dog food brands add carbohydrates to their products. These carbs serve no purpose other than to be a cheap way to add mass to dog food. Dry dog foods are notorious for being especially high in carbs. Owners who are concerned about their pet’s diet should opt for low-carb dry dog food varieties or try for wet food or fresh food options instead.


Fats have developed a poor reputation due to their association with the word “fat”. However, this macronutrient is an essential part of any dog’s diet. These are lipids that are typically solid at room temperature, and offer a dense quantity of calories compared to proteins and carbohydrates.

In addition to being a good source of calories, essential fatty acids also help resolve inflammation problems and promote healthy coats. Dogs that are receiving an insufficient quantity of fat in their diets are often prone to wound healing problems and dermatological conditions.

On the other hand, an excessive quantity of fat in your dog’s diet can lead to unwanted weight gain. This can result in the development of other health problems. Owners should ensure at least 5.5% of their dog’s diet consists of fats.

These fats can come from meat sources such as chicken, beef, or lamb. Certain plant-based oils such as canola, sunflower, and safflower oils are also full of healthy fats. 

Owners should also be vigilant about unhealthy fats in dog food. Many dog food manufacturers add lower quality fats advertised as “animal fat” or “beef tallow” into their products. These fats are usually derived from rendered animal tissue, and should be limited in your dog’s diet.

Canned dog food has a relatively long shelf life.
Home cooked food is fresher and more nutritious than dry dog food.

Types of Dog Food

There are numerous dog food options available in the modern era. Large pet food companies typically specialize in one type over another. This includes:

● Dry food or Kibble

● Wet food or Canned

● Semi-Moist Foods

● Home Cooked

● Raw

Dry Food

Dry food or kibble is one of the most popular dog food options available in the market. It is convenient to purchase and store thanks to its high shelf life. It is also easy to clean up compared to wet food options.

The downside of this type of food is that it tends to be high in carbohydrates and often features protein from questionable animal sources. Owners should thoroughly check the ingredients and source of a dry dog food before serving it to their pets.

Wet Food

Wet food typically comes in cans. As their name implies, this type of dog food has a high water content, making it much softer than other food types. This makes it a great option for dogs that have trouble chewing or are picky eaters. 

Many owners like to top their dog’s dry kibble with wet food. However, it can be served on its own as well. Canned wet food also has a high shelf storage life, lasting anywhere from one to three years.

The drawback of wet food is its low calorie content. You will need to feed your pooch a large quantity of this food type to meet their daily nutritional requirements. However, the water content of wet food also has the potential to cause loose stools for canines. For this reason, owners should consider testing out both dry and wet food options to see which suits their canine best.

Semi-Moist Food

Some commercial dog food brands sell “semi-moist” food products. These are typically packaged in trays or pouches, and feature more moisture than dry kibble but have a lower water content than wet food. This gives semi-moist food a chewy texture that many dogs love.

This food type is believed to be less nutritious than other types, as it often contains artificial flavorings and colors. Owners should refrain from serving their dogs semi-moist foods as their primary dish, and should instead offer them as an occasional treat.

Home Cooked

Home cooked food is a great option for canines that are picky eaters. These foods typically consist of meats, vegetables, and limited quantities of dairy that are prepared at home.

Owners that opt to feed their canine home cooked food should ensure that their meal consists of the right balance of nutrients. In addition to this, they should be careful to include only those ingredients that are safe for canines to consume. This means avoiding potentially toxic ingredients such as chocolate, grapes, avocado, or garlic.

If you are unsure about whether or not the foods you are feeding your canine are safe, it is best to consult with a veterinarian beforehand. However, home cooked foods remain one of the best options for canine owners that wish to avoid the highly processed nature of commercial dog food.

Raw Food

Some owners prefer feeding their dogs raw food. This is perfectly safe in most cases, as dogs have evolved to handle such foods in their diet. The idea of feeding canines cooked or prepared food is actually a recent phenomenon, and is non-essential except under special circumstances.

Many traditional “work” dogs such as sled dogs or sheepdogs are fed a raw diet for dogs consisting of raw meats, fruits, vegetables, and bones to help meet their nutritional needs. This diet can also help them achieve shinier coats, cleaner teeth, and healthier skin.

One drawback of raw food is the potential for bacterial contamination. This bacteria may be damaging to your dog’s health, so owners are advised to keep raw meats frozen before serving them to their canines.

You can help your pooch meet their dietary needs with home cooked food.
Home cooked dog food is a great option for picky eaters.

5 Best Fresh Food Delivery Services for Dogs

Owners that wish to feed their dog home cooked food but don’t have the time or resources to prepare it themselves should turn to fresh food delivery services. These delivery services prepare fresh and nutritious food for your canine and deliver it within a few days.

This food is healthier than commercial dog food brands and includes many options to meet your canine’s dietary needs. The top five fresh food delivery services for dogs are:

1. Ollie 

Ollie is a popular fresh food delivery service that is subscription-based. Owners can set a delivery schedule for orders, which are then shipped frozen. 

Ollies gives you the freedom to customize your canine’s meal plan however you choose. Whether you want to help your pooch lose weight, account for their allergies, or offer food for their sensitive tummy, Ollie offers it all. Each of Ollie’s food items are prepared in USDA-approved kitchens and feature high quality ingredients. Owners can choose from a variety of high-protein recipes containing meats such as:

● Beef

● Chicken

● Turkey

● Lamb

Sign up for Ollie today to help your pet meet their nutritional needs in an easy and worry-free manner.

2. Just Food For Dogs

Just Food For Dogs provides fresh dog food with a special focus on nutrition and quality. Each of their dishes is prepared using humans-grade ingredients, and using recipes perfected by their team of veterinarians. Owners can choose from a wide variety of dishes made from beef, turkey, chicken, lamb, venison, or fish.

3. A Pup Above

A Pup Above is a subscription-based delivery service that also offers on-demand and in-store food options. This brand stands out from competitors because all their meals are prepared sous vide style, meaning each dish is slow cooked in special pouches under hot water. This preparation method ensures each ingredient is tender and retains their nutrients.

Their food then arrives in three-pound bags containing three one-pound patties. Owners can thaw out portions as needed. However, this can make it difficult to store the remaining portions once they have thawed out.

4. Pet Plate

Pet Plate is another fresh dog food delivery brand that produces food in small batches. Each dish is prepared using high quality USDA-approved ingredients before being flash frozen and delivered. Owners can customize each meal plan to fit their canine’s age, weight, and activity level.

Pet Plate’s dishes are created using ground up meat, which is great for dogs that have difficulty chewing larger chunks. The service also makes storing food incredibly easy thanks to their reusable containers.

5. The Farmer’s Dog

The Farmer’s Dog is a great fresh dog food delivery service that allows you to customize meals based on your dog’s unique requirements. Each of their dishes were developed by professional veterinarians, and can help your pooch meet their dietary needs.

Dishes are delivered within days of their preparation, and are never deep frozen. This gives your canine access to healthy and fresh food on short notice.

Each of the fresh dog food delivery services mentioned above offers their own advantages. You should assess each one carefully before choosing the right service for your dog. Meeting your pet’s dietary requirements regularly is no easy task, but you can make this challenge much easier with the help of a reliable fresh dog food delivery service.

Ollie is a subscription-based fresh dog food delivery service.
A photo of a black dog eating dry dog food on a wooden floor.

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