Understanding your dog’s nutritional requirements

Dogs, Pets

Let’s talk dog nutrition…

Do you know what your dog’s body needs to thrive? From how they are built to what they eat, your dog has unique qualities and functions that can only be nourished with the right nutrition. To find the best diet for your dog, you need to understand what your dog needs to stay healthy and active. 


Every dog is different

Like our own diets, your dogs nutritional needs aren’t always black and white. There are many differing opinions when it comes to nutrition. Your dog’s unique nutritional requirements will depend on its size, its breed, and it’s stage in life, among other factors. A better understanding of how dogs use the various nutrients in food and how much of them they need can help you choose a healthier diet for your pet. 

The digestive tract

Just as dogs need different types of foods and nutrients to stay fit and healthy, dog digestion is different to that of us humans too. Check out the organs and functions that make up the dog digestive system, from head to tail, to help you understand how your dog digests food!

Point of departure (mouth) 

The mechanical breakdown of food begins in the mouth, where food is ingested, chewed and swallowed.

Storage and Processing

The stomach acts as a temporary storage and processing facility before emptying its contents into the small intestine.

Automatic Transport

The oesophagus is a short, muscular tube in which involuntary, wavelike contractions and relaxations propel food from the mouth to the stomach.

Treatment Facilities

In the small intestine, enzymes break down large, complex food molecules into simpler units that can be absorbed into the bloodstream. The pancreas is an organ that does double duty, secreting digestive enzymes into the gut and hormones, including insulin and glucogon, into the blood.

End of the line

The primary function of the large intestine is to absorb electrolytes and water. This is where microbes ferment nutrients that have so far escaped digestion and absorption. 

Nutrients your dog needs

Good nutrition is feeding your dog the building blocks and energy components that allow them to grow, develop to their potential and stay active throughout their life. 

1. Protein

Dogs cannot survive without protein in their diets. Proteins provide the basic building blocks for growth, maintenance, and repair of body tissues. The highest quality proteins for use in dog foods come from a variety of animal-based sources including chicken, lamb, turkey, beef, fish and eggs.

2. Fats

Fat is a concentrated form of energy, providing more than twice the energy of proteins or carbohydrates. Fat is required for absorption and utilisation of fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). Fats supply fatty acids, which provide healthy skin and coat, as well as reduce inflammation. Fatty acids promote heart health and optimal brain function. Fats also make pet food taste better.

3. Carbohydrates

The most important function of carbohydrates is to provide adequate energy to your dog. Dogs are able to convert certain carbohydrate sources into simple sugars that are easily absorbed. More complex carbohydrates must be broken down further by the body before they are able to be absorbed.

Where do carbohydrates come from?

The most common types of carbohydrates used in dog foods are cereal grains. These grains must be ground up or cooked just enough to allow for the animal’s intestine to absorb it easily (digestibility). This also helps improve the taste of the raw ingredients (palatability).

Common carbohydrate sources will usually be listed in the first few ingredients on the bag of dog food.

Some of these may include:

  • Barley (pearled)
  • Oats (or whole oats)
  • Brown rice
  • Whole wheat
  • Whole corn
  • Potato (or sweet potato)
  • Millet

4. Vitamins

Vitamins organic substances, or synthetic derivatives thereof, required for normal body functioning. They are also important in the conversion of calories to energy, the boosting of immunity and other body processed.


Consider food allergy

When choosing your dog’s food, you should take note and consider food allergies. Ingredients such as soy, chicken, egg, and wheat are common in causing these allergies. Whether the food is cooked or taken raw, they will still have the same effect on your dog. If your dog has sensitive skin, the key to choosing the best foods without any of these ingredients is to check the ingredients list and go for one that does not contain any of the ingredients and supplements with fatty acids.

Your pet got the itchy-scratchies?

Fur Life Vet’s super deal on Hill’s Derm Defence means it’s a great time to trial a change in diet. It just might help your pet shake the itch this Spring! Check out the offer in detail!


This Spring Fur Life Vet & Hills are giving you $20 OFF* Hills Derm Defense!


* $20 OFF Valid from 1 September to 30 November 2020 on the following Derm Defense products: Hills PD Canine Derm Defense Chicken & Veg 354g Can (12Pack), Hills PD Canine Derm Defense Dry 11.3kg, and Hills PD Canine Derm Defense Dry 2.7kg

Ask your Fur Life Vet for advice

Your Fur Life Vet can help you choose the right food for your dog, ask your vet to perform a test on the general body condition and health of your do to help determine what type of nutrition and foods are suitable for your dog. Performing medical examinations might help you realise whether you are overfeeding or underfeeding the dog and will recommend a diet perfect for your dog.

How to enter

Simply share a photo on your Facebook page of your dog rugged up for winter or enjoying the winter sunshine and use the hashtag relevant to your state.

What you can win

There will be three prizes in total – one for QLD entrants and two prizes for entrants from VIC, NSW and TAS combined prize. Each prize includes a winter pet pack to the value of $100.

Click on your state to reveal the hashtag you need to use to enter!

QLD Residents

Share a photo of your dog enjoying the winter sunshine or snoozing in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetQLD

VIC Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetVIC

NSW Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetNSW

TAS Residents

Share a photo of your dog rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes and tag #furlifevetTAS

Terms & Conditions

Information on how to enter and prizes form part of these conditions. By participating, entrants agree to be bound by these conditions. Entries must comply with these conditions to be valid.

Entry is open to Australian residents that meet the competition requirements outlined below during the Competition period 1 June 2022 – 31 August 2022. Employees and their immediate families of the Promoter and its agencies associated with this competition are ineligible to enter.

To enter, each entrant must, during the Entry Period, upload a photo of their pet rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes to social media (on their personal profile) and use the hashtag corresponding to the state they are in (e.g. #furlifevetVIC, #furlifevetNSW, #furlifevetQLD, #furlifevetTAS).

Winner of the competition will be determined by:

  1. Appropriate photo uploaded (photo of their pet rugged up for winter or snoozing warm inside in their favourite winter clothes to social media (on their personal profile)
  2. Relevant hashtag used (state residing in: #furlifevetVIC, #furlifevetNSW, #furlifevetQLD, #furlifevetTAS)
  3. Number of likes (photo with highest number of likes at end of competition period with all other criteria completed will win)

The competition will close for entries Wednesday, 31 August 2022 at 12:00pm [AEST]. Failure to meet any of the competition requirements will deem entry invalid and will not be eligible to win.

There will be three prizes in total – one for QLD entrants and two prizes for entrants from VIC, NSW and TAS combined.


Competition requirements:

Entrants must be a current client of a participating Apiam/Fur Life Vet clinic.

Entries must be received by the Promoter during the Entry Period. Entries received after 12:00pm [AEST] 31 August 2022 not be accepted.

The competition commences at 00:01 [AEST] on 01/06/2022 and closes at 12:00 [AEDT] 31/08/2022.

Queensland prize includes a pet pack to the value of $100.00.

Victorian, New South Wales, and Tasmanian prize includes two separate pet packs to the value of $100.00.

All taxes (excluding GST) which may be payable as a consequence of receiving a prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.

The Prize is not transferable and is not redeemable for cash.

The Promoter assumes no responsibility for any failure to receive an entry or for inaccurate information or for any loss, damage or injury as a result of technical or telecommunications problems, including security breaches. If such problems arise, then the Promoter may modify, cancel, terminate or suspend the competition.

If the prize becomes unavailable for reasons beyond the Promoter’s control, the Promoter may substitute a prize of equal or greater value.

The winner will be notified by email on or by 10/09/2022.

Entrants consent to the Promoter using their name, images submitted, pets name, comment, and/or voice in the event that they are a winner in any media for an unlimited period of time without remuneration for the purpose of promoting this competition (including any outcome), as well as any other communications outside of this competition, and/or promoting any products manufactured, distributed and/or supplied by the Promoter. If you are not willing for these uses or disclosures to occur you cannot participate in the competition.

Further, entrants agree that the Promoter has an unrestricted, irrevocable, transferable, divisible right and licence to use and modify their entry for the purposes of the Promoter’s business including for promotional purposes without the payment of any further fee or compensation.

If requested by the Promoter, the entrant agrees to sign any further documentation required by the Promoter to give effect to this arrangement. To the extent permitted by law, entrants unconditionally and irrevocably consent to any act or omission that would otherwise infringe any moral rights in their entry. Entries remain the property of the Promoter. Details from entries will be collected and used for the purposes of conducting this competition (which may include disclosure to third parties for the purpose of processing and conducting the competition) and for promotional purposes surrounding this competition. By entering this competition entrants consent to the use of their information as described and agree that the Promoter may use this information, or disclose it to other organisations that may use it, in any media for future promotional purposes without any further reference or payment to the entrant.

By entering this competition, entrants consent for the Promoter to use entrant’s name, email address, phone number which entrants submitted to enter for the purposes of administering and operating the competition. Entry is conditional on the Promoter acquiring the aforementioned information. All personal information collected by the Promoter will be handled by the Promoter in accordance with the Promoter’s privacy policy (PRIVACY) Entrants have the right to access their personal information, request correction of any errors and/or obtain a copy of the Promoter’s privacy policy by contacting getvetchecked@furlifevet.com.au.

The Promoter is Apiam Animal Health Pty Limited (ACN: 604 961 024) at 27-33 Piper Lane East Bendigo, 3550, Victoria, Australia.

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