Home » Pet Health » Pet Nutrition » What Nutrients Does My Dog Need?


The approach to nutrition may vary depending on a dog’s health. Therefore, a vet nutritionist is the best person to guide you in determining what diet is best for your dog. Organizations such as the American Animal Hospital Association offer nutritional guidelines to vets so that they can provide the information you need to develop a healthy diet for your pet. You can work with your vet to determine how much of the essential nutritional requirements of water, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins your dog needs. With your vet’s help, you can provide your dog with optimal nutrition and calories for overall good health during their different life stages such as growth, reproduction, and adulthood.

It is up to you to decide what type of balanced diet you want to provide your dog. If you are interested in giving your dog a raw diet, be sure to research whether it is right for your dog since there have been mixed reports on the benefits.

If a balanced commercial dry food is what you are looking for, determine what food will provide the necessary nutrients and sufficient calories relative to their stage of life.

You can also include supplements in your dog’s diet that may help to establish and maintain overall health. Below you will find some supplement information:

    • Fish oils are beneficial for a dog’s heart, joints, coat, skin, and immune system. Fish oils are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, also known as good fat. Some components of omega-3 fatty acids help improve eye development and cognitive functions in young dogs. Fish oils can be a part of a long-term diet plan or taken as an occasional dietary supplement.
    • Antioxidants in your dog’s diet can help reduce cancer risk. Antioxidants may support the immune system and decrease the toxicity of harmful chemicals sometimes found in commercial dietary food. Two great sources of antioxidants are fruits and vegetables. Just be sure to keep an eye on the portion size of fruits because of the sugar levels.
    • Whole grains are part of a pet’s healthy diet because they are rich in vitamins, minerals, and plant chemicals. Whole grains can supplement carbohydrates and dietary fiber. For example, pet food made with whole brown rice contains a high amount of crude fat, crude fiber, phosphorus, and potassium.

Maintaining a healthy diet is a great way to reduce your dog’s risk of disease, including cancer. If you would like to change your dog’s diet to improve it, check in with your vet for recommendations that work best for you and your pet.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Website Editorial team is comprised of veterinarians, veterinary oncologists, and veterinary technicians, as well as scientific writers and editors who have attained their PhD’s in the life sciences, along with general editors and research assistants. All content found in this section goes through an extensive process with multiple review stages, to ensure this extended resource provides pet families with the most up-to-date information publicly available.

The team listing of those contributing to the information on this page is here:

Keep Your Pets Healthy Editorial Team

Last Updated: June 20, 2022

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s Medical Illustration team is comprised of medical illustration specialists and graphic designers that work in consultation with our team of experts to create the medical art found throughout our website. Though not all medical concepts require the assistance of imagery, when a page does contain a medical illustration, credit to the artist and our medical art director will be noted here.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical imagery is protected by copyright and cannot be used without prior approval that includes a mutually signed licensing agreement. Please review our Content Usage Policy.

The following sources were referenced to write the content on this page:

Bauer, JE 2011, ‘Therapeutic use of fish oils in companion animals’, J Am Vet Med Assoc, vol. 239, no. 11, pp. 1441-51.

Buff, PR, Carter, RA, Bauer, JE & Kersey, JH 2014, ‘Natural pet food: A review of natural diets and their impact on canine and feline physiology’, J Anim Sci, vol. 92, no. 9, pp. 3781–3791.

Cline, MG, Burns, KM, Coe, JB, Downing, R, Durzi, R, Murphy, M & Parker, V 2021, ‘2021 AAHA nutrition and weight management guidelines for dogs and cats’, J Am Anim Hosp Assoc, vol. 57, no. 4, pp. 153-178.

de Godoy, MRC, Kerr, KR & Fahey, Jr, GC 2013, ‘Alternative dietary fiber sources in companion animal nutrition’, Nutrients, vol. 5, no. 8, pp.3099-3117.

U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2022, “Complete and Balanced” Pet Food, viewed March 11, 2022, https://www.fda.gov/animal-veterinary/animal-health-literacy/complete-and-balanced-pet-food Jacobs, D., Gross, M. and Tapsell, L., 2009. Food synergy: an operational concept for understanding nutrition. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 89(5), pp.1543S-1548S.

Jonnalagadda, Ss, Harnack, L, Liu, RH, McKeown, N, Seal, C, Liu, S & Fahey, GC 2011, ‘Putting the whole grain puzzle together: health benefits associated with whole grains–summary of American Society for Nutrition 2010 Satellite Symposium’,
J Nutr, vol. 141, no. 5, pp.1011S-1022S.

Okarter, N & Liu, RH 2010, ‘Health benefits of whole grain phytochemicals’, Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr, vol. 50, no. 3, pp.193-208.

The Pet Cancer Foundation’s medical resource for pet owners is protected by copyright.

For reprint requests, please see our Content Usage Policy.