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Proteins

Proteins are often referred to as body-building blocks and are necessary for growth and repair. They are biological compounds made up from various combinations of amino acids. Approximately 20 amino acids—capable of forming many combinations—intermix to form the different proteins. The known protein requirements of the dog are 18 to 20 percent of the daily ration.

Regardless of the form in which they are taken into the dog's body, proteins are broken down into their component amino acids. Assimilation takes place and the amino acids are distributed and used for growth, body repair, heat and energy. If these amino acids are to be properly utilized by the dog, certain amounts of fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals must also be present.

Fats

The importance of fat in the dog's diet has been revealed in many dog nutrition experiments. Fat is a source of energy and heat. It is composed of essential fatty acids. Three of these fatty acids—linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic —are necessary in your dog's daily diet. Linoleic acid is found in vegetable and animal fats, such as corn oil, linseed oil, pure lard, bacon grease, beef suet, etc. Linolenic acid is found only in oils. Arachidonic acid is present to a limited degree in animal fats.

Fatty acids have other functions besides providing heat and energy. The presence or absence of adequate amounts of these three fatty acids in the dog's diet has a marked effect on his skin condition, nervous system and resistance to disease. Young puppies will show a definite reaction to the absence or insufficient quantities of the three essential fatty acids.

When young puppies are fed one percent or less fat in their daily diet, they develop dry, coarse hair and the skin becomes flaky or scaly. If this fat-deficient diet is continued, the pups have a peeling skin and falling hair. As the fat-deficiency progresses, the paws swell, followed by a reddening of the skin. When kept on a low-fat diet, puppies become highly excitable, shaky and timid. They are also more susceptible to infections than pups on a high-fat diet.

Although linolenic and arachidonic acids are necessary, the accent should be on linoleic acid. Of the three, linoleic is the most essential. And since it is readily available in pure lard, bacon grease, pork, beef and lamb fat, there is no reason why your puppy should suffer from a deficiency. Cod-liver oil, while a source of vitamins, will not provide any of the three essential fatty acids. It contains highly unsaturated fatty acids which have no preventive or curative effect on the fat-deficiency syndrome.

Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are also a source of energy. They are present in green plants or vegetables as sugars and starches. In the commercial dog foods, carbohydrates are supplied in the form of fiber or bulk. Old wives' tales to the contrary, dogs can digest limited amounts of starch, preferably cooked.

Minerals

Minerals are needed to promote the proper growth of your dog. Calcium and phosphorous aid in the formation of sound teeth and bones, as well as blood. Iron, copper and cobalt are involved in the makeup of red blood cells. Iodine prevents goiter. There are other minerals, traces of which are needed to maintain good health.

Vitamins

Vitamins are food constituents necessary for the normal nutrition of the dog. All of the vitamins—A, the B-complex, D and E—are utilized by the dog. Vitamin C is synthesized within the dog's body, so it is not necessary to supply it. A deficiency of vitamins can result in rickets, poor skin and hair, lack of appetite and nervous disorders.

The ABC's of Dog Nutrition 67 FEEDING YOUR DOG

Before discussing the various prepared dog foods and wholesome meats and leftovers, it is appropriate to mention some pitfalls in dog feeding.

Your dog-feeding program involves more than just shoveling the essential nutrients into the dog by way of high-powered dog foods. Again, your dog must be treated as an individual. And in feeding him properly, you will have to take into account his age, breed, size, kind of hair, activity and climate.

Too many dog owners think in terms of human nutritional requirements or their own tastes when it comes to feeding their dogs. Your food requirements or likes and dislikes have nothing to do with your dog's diet. Forget them. On the other hand, don't overbalance the other way and cater to your dog's taste buds. His ration should be palatable, but not exotic.

What about adding supplements, such as vitamins and minerals, to the daily diet? If you feed your dog a balanced diet, there is no need for supplements. There are some exceptions to this: orphaned newborn puppies, pregnant and lactating bitches, and when your veterinarian prescribes supplements —these are conditions under which vitamin and mineral supplements should be added to the diet. Nature intended for the dog to get his essential nutrients from natural foods. So, unless there is some metabolic dysfunction, there is no need for you to load the diet with vitamin and mineral supplements. Puppies fed on one of these "high-powered" diets can develop nutritional disturbances just as well as the pup getting a diet low in vitamins and minerals.

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