Like all living things, dogs have certain nutritional requirements. To stay healthy, they must be properly fed. They should eat a balanced diet containing all the essential nutrients to maintain good health and well being through each phase of their life cycles: growth, adult maintenance, reproduction (and lactation), and old age.
Dogs can exist on a variety of diets but many of these will not keep them in the best of health. Poor nutrition, in fact, may even shorten a dog’s life by several years. And growing puppies and old dogs are even less able to stand a poor diet.
It is important to remember that most of the required nutrients or food substances are not stored within the dog’s body for any length of time. The principal exceptions are fat, which is stored in nearly all parts of the body, and vitamins A and D, which are stored for a time in the liver. If all the nutrients are to be fully used, therefore, they must not only be made available at each meal; they must also be present in the food in the correctly balanced amounts. Too much of one food substance can upset the contributions of some of the others.
All dogs need the same essential nutrients, but the amounts vary and are determined by age, breed, life stage, environment, and activity level.