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    What Does a Dog Eat in a Day?

    It’s hard enough figuring out what humans eat how many calories are consumed by a human on average is difficult to say because we all differ so much from one another (women vs. men), but it’s even more complicated when you add the fact that each person has different needs based on age, height, weight and other factors.

    For example, if your mom weighed 140 pounds, she probably ate about 1,500 calories per day, while a man her size would consume only around 1,200 calories. So, just as with people, knowing what dogs eat isn’t always an exact science. They’re not all built alike.

    But don’t worry there are still ways to estimate roughly how many calories a certain breed or type of dog consumes daily. It may be surprising to learn that dogs actually require fewer calories than humans, which means their food choices aren’t nearly as varied as ours. And unlike cats, whose dietary needs are determined largely by genetics, dogs’ nutritional requirements are affected by such things as breed, climate and activity levels.

    So why do dogs need special nutrition at all? In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how exactly these animals get their daily dose of protein, carbohydrates and fats.

    Foods Dogs Eat

    In addition to being pack animals, most dogs live outdoors — meaning they spend most of their time outside running, playing, hunting and eating. That makes it easier to figure out their food preferences. Most dogs will eat meat, whether fresh, frozen, canned or otherwise processed, but it also depends upon where they live.

    If you have a vegetarian dog, he’ll likely want lots of leafy greens, fruits and vegetables. Some dogs prefer fish, while others like beef or chicken. Some dogs enjoy cheese, ice cream and milk products, while others won’t touch them. You can generally find a good guidebook or Web site dedicated to helping you decide what your particular pet likes to eat.

    If you have a cat, you know that its diet consists mostly of dry kibble. Cats can’t chew, swallow or digest raw meats, however, so you’d never serve them steak. Cats also typically don’t drink water, although they sometimes snack on small amounts of tap water. A kitten drinks mostly milk instead.

    Unlike cats, dogs must consume solid food in order to properly absorb nutrients. The same goes for puppies. Their parents nurse them until they’re able to start eating solids themselves. After that, they usually continue nursing them for several months. This helps the puppy develop teeth and a strong digestive system.

    Humans might think that our pets are pretty spoiled since they tend to eat whatever they want, whenever they want it. However, that doesn’t mean that their diets consist entirely of junk food. While they may eat anything and everything within reach, owners often give their pets nutritious treats, too.

    Many veterinarians recommend feeding your dog high-quality commercial kibbles rather than cheap, mass-produced varieties. These are easy to clean up after, especially if you keep them in a bowl near your desk. Just remember that the best kind of treat could be something as simple as peanut butter mixed into their regular food.

    Experts agree that the right amount of healthy food is important. Too little may leave your pet malnourished, while too much can cause obesity problems.

    Now let’s look at how much your pooch eats and how his meals compare to those of humans.

    How Much Do They Eat?

    The National Research Council recommends that adult dogs need between 35 percent and 40 percent of their total caloric intake come from protein sources. Protein keeps muscles and skin tissue healthy, and it enables cells to function. Because muscle comprises approximately 27 percent of the body, it requires more energy to grow than fat does.
    Therefore, protein is essential for maintaining the health of bones, organs and tissues. Proteins are composed of amino acids, which are chains of smaller molecules called peptides. Your pet uses amino acids to build proteins. When considering your dog’s diet, make sure to include plenty of lean cuts of meat and organ preparations.

    Other portions of the NRC guidelines relate to calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamins. Calcium plays an integral role in bone formation, nerve transmission and blood clotting. Phosphorus provides fuel for life processes and helps regulate body functions. Iron supports red blood cell production, and vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorous. Other specific vitamins and minerals help maintain immunity, digestion, heart health and brain development.

    While the NRC suggests that dogs require less overall calories than humans, it says that differences exist among breeds. Labradors, for instance, need more protein and calcium than German Shepherds do. Since dogs naturally hunt, run and play, they burn more calories throughout the day than sedentary humans do. To compensate, owners should provide extra exercise for their pets.

    Finally, we’ll discuss why dogs need specialized nutrition. Since dogs are carnivores, they rely heavily on animal flesh as part of their diet. Meat contains higher levels of biologically available nitrogen (BAN) than plant-based proteins. BAN refers to the amount of nitrogen contained within a unit volume of muscle tissue.

    As a result, dogs can process large quantities of meat without having to work very hard. Canine bodies contain specialized bacteria that break down complex proteins found in meat. Humans lack this ability, making us relatively inefficient at processing our own protein.

    Why Do Dogs Need Special Nutrition?

    Just as humans don’t necessarily need the same nutrients as dogs, dogs don’t require the same amount of calories as humans. We’ve already discussed the difference in metabolism rates, but it’s worth noting again here. While both humans and dogs use oxygen during respiration, dogs breathe faster than humans. This allows them to extract more energy from the air inhaled. Consequently, dogs consume significantly more oxygen than humans do. Additionally, dogs’ respiratory systems are more efficient than humans’. Although we can survive without breathing, we can’t do so indefinitely, whereas dogs can go long periods without taking a breath.

    Because dogs expend more energy, they require more calories than humans. Dogs derive 70 percent of their calories from protein, 20 percent from carbohydrates and 10 percent from lipids. Of course, their protein consumption differs depending on their lifestyle, activity level and breed.

    For instance, wolves, who are active hunters, eat about 50 percent protein, 30 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent fat. Meanwhile, housecats eat slightly more carbohydrates than protein, and dogs living indoors eat about 60 percent carbohydrates, 25 percent protein and 15 percent lipids.

    Although dogs need similar amounts of protein as humans, they consume considerably more carbohydrates. Why? First off, dogs have shorter intestines than humans, which allow them to digest more starch. Secondly, dogs have a greater appetite than humans, which leads to overeating. Lastly, they’re designed to run around all day long, burning extra calories.

    Your vet will advise you regarding the proper amount of nutrition for your dog. He or she will also suggest any additional supplements your pups might need, like vitamins or minerals. Remember to check with your veterinarian before adding any new ingredients to your pet’s diet.

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