What is the right dog food for an adult dog?

Dry food vs wet food (1)

What is the right dog food for a dog? For both experienced and new dog owners, the right dog food plays a vital role in living with a four-legged friend. That also means that the health of the dog is closely linked to the food. Physical well-being, vitality and the life of the four-legged friend can be increased and influenced with the right nutrition. The wrong food can lead to diseases in dogs. Obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, bone and joint disease, kidney disease and even cancer can be caused by poor nutrition. No wonder the topic is getting so much attention, in fact, there are almost as many opinions about proper nutrition in literature, guidebooks, and internet forums as there are dog breeds.

But what is the perfect food for my dog? This question cannot be answered in general. After all, not every dog ​​is the same. Depending on size, age, health, weight and activity, the dietary requirements are very different. You can individually invent the perfect food for your pet. Ultimately, it should not only meet the needs of your pet, but you should also take your own life into account. What is feasible for one person on a daily basis is a major challenge for another. Price, food preparation method and time certainly play a role in deciding which food method is best for you. It is important that you can give food that is good for your dog over a long period of time. After all, a frequent change of food is often very painful for the animal organism. Diarrhea, flatulence and other digestive problems can result from too many changes in the food bowl.

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The question of the perfect food for your dog cannot be answered here either. However, below you can find the most important criteria that will help you find the optimal dog food.

The right dog food for an adult dog

In the first three to four weeks of life, a puppy usually only feeds on the mother’s milk. Gradually they will eventually get used to solid food and will be fed special puppy food that meets the high energy needs of young dogs. If you bought your dog as a puppy from a breeder, you will usually receive a feeding plan for the first few weeks. Many breeders will even give you some puppy food to take home. After six months, it is recommended to gradually reduce the energy density of the food to avoid too rapid growth of the dog. When dogs grow too fast, this often leads to joint problems, such as hip and elbow dysplasia, which can be a lifelong problem for the dog. After puppy food you can either initially choose junior food (food for puppies) or switch directly to adult food (food for adult dogs). The transition to adult food should take place after the sixth, but at the latest after the eighteenth month of life. Small dogs should be transitioned to adult food at 10 to 12 months of age, when height growth is complete. The right dog food also depends on the energy needs of the adult dog.

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The energy needs of adult dogs

Before you switch to adult food, the question arises: what does my adult dog actually need? Just like with humans, energy expenditure depends on gender, height and activities. While professional athletes often require 4000 kcal or more per day, for an average person 2000 kcal per day is enough to supplement energy expenditure. It is the same with dogs: the ‘lap dog’ certainly has a lower energy requirement than, for example, a Husky. For a ‘normal family dog’ without a special load, the following rule of thumb provides a rough guide to calculate the required amount of energy: the dog needs about 57 kcal of food per kilogram of body weight.

Important Nutrients

Proteins (protein), fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and trace elements are the most important nutrients that your dog must ingest when eating. These ingredients provide him with his energy and provide healthy support for all vital functions.


The most important source of energy for a dog is undoubtedly protein. The amino acids in proteins are essential for the dog. A particularly high-quality protein source is meat. Your dog’s diet should consist of at least 70 percent meat. In principle, all types of meat can be fed: beef, lamb, pork, rabbit or poultry. For viscera, the liver, heart, animals, spleen and rumen (unpolished) are recommended. The need for meat from dogs does not come out of the blue, the dog is a direct descendant of the wolf and therefore belongs to the carnivorous predators. Its strong teeth, strong chewing muscles, relatively short intestinal tract and quite aggressive digestive juices are perfectly designed for meat intake. It is important that the meat is not cooked, as this affects the protein content and makes it unusable. The highest protein content is in fresh, raw meat. As an alternative to meat, you can feed your dog fish once or twice a week. It should also be as fresh as possible because in this condition it contains the highest percentage of unsaturated fatty acids, easily digestible proteins and vitamin D. Fish species include salmon, cod, redfish, anchovies, shellfish and shrimp.

Dry food vs wet food (3)


The unsaturated fatty acids of the fish are of special interest, as they contribute to the improvement of the inflammatory and immune defense system. The equally important omega-6 fatty acids of vegetable oils are generally sufficiently present in meat. Oils are very important, so the dog’s body can absorb important vitamins. That is why you should always enrich the vegetables with animal oil, such as salmon oil. To avoid being overweight, the fat share in the diet should be considerably lower than the protein or carbohydrate share. Natural fatty acids are also found in nuts, but these should only be fed grated or ground.


Carbohydrates are found in potatoes and grains and are not an essential part of the diet for a carnivorous dog. Commercial dry food already contains sufficient carbohydrates, making an extra dose unnecessary. If you only feed your dog raw food, it is best to give him grains in the form of flakes, such as oats or barley flakes.

Vitamin and trace elements

Vitamins and trace elements, which are mainly contained in vegetables, fruits and herbs, must be sufficiently available in the dog’s diet. Nutrients are interconnected, meaning that one nutrient your dog needs often uses another nutrient. A diet that is too unbalanced, for example a pure meat diet, is therefore not recommended. In addition to the 70 percent meat share, the dog’s diet should consist of 25 percent fruit and vegetables and only about 5 percent grains. Celery, carrots, zucchini, pumpkin or local fruits such as apple, pears or berries can be finely grated or briefly cooked mix with the meat.


Calcium is mainly found in milk and dairy products. An excess of calcium can be dangerous, especially in dogs that are not yet fully grown. Milk should therefore not be on the menu or only in small quantities in adult dogs. Cow’s milk is particularly unsuitable, which often leads to allergies or other food intolerances.

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The right amount of nutrition

The right dog food also depends on how much food your dog needs per day. As described, this depends not only on the age of the dog, but also on how big he is and how much he moves. In general, daily food portions are more manageable in small dogs than in large dogs. However, that doesn’t mean that less food means less energy input at the same time. For example, special food for small dogs has a rather high energy density, because the small dogs often use a lot of energy in relation to their size. Therefore, it is best to feed small dogs twice a day. But also for large dogs, smaller, more frequent meals are often better than large meals. In ‘normal’ adult family dogs that are not kept for breeding or work, two meals a day are sufficient. Even more important than the amount of food per meal are the following two points: 1. regular meals, 2. a rest period after eating.

Dogs have an amazingly accurate ‘internal clock’ and adjust very quickly to stable and regular meals. Make sure your dog always takes his food at the same time of day. This not only helps him with digestion, but also ensures that he never feels the need to eat outside of meals. Maybe your dog can even leave the sometimes annoying ‘begging’ at the table. To avoid this, it is best to give his main meal at lunchtime, at the same time as you sit down at the dinner table. In order to digest the food, it is very important to give the dog a break after eating. Wild romping or running can even lead to gastric torsion in some breeds.

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The right dog food: dry, wet or raw?

Whether you give the above nutrients in dry, wet or raw form is a matter of taste. Many dog ​​owners gravitate towards ready-to-eat food. This is of course also caused by a lack of time, uncertainty, or simply convenience. But don’t worry: even with wet or dry food, you can feed your dog all the necessary nutrients. Although you still have to pay attention to the often very different energy content. So is dry food about five times more concentrated due to the lower water content than an equal amount of wet food? With an apparently small amount of dry food, you can quickly feed too much. Beet food you also have to take into account the often extremely high protein content. A relatively new, or rediscovered, the form of food is the so-called BARF. BARF stands for ‘Organic red meat ‘ and is becoming increasingly popular with many breeders, veterinarians and dog owners. In this case, responsible feeding stands for raw meat, as wolves and the first dogs, who lived as guard and herding dogs on farms, were fed. Barf should therefore not be complicated, as detailed nutrition tables suggest. When you feed your dog 70 percent raw meat and 30 percent raw vegetables, you already have reliable guidance for daily food preparation at hand.

Whichever feeding method you ultimately choose: the best diet for your dog is the one that pleases your dog and gives him health, vitality, and longevity. And although this method should fit into your daily life and last but not least your wallet: the highest priority when determining a diet should always be the health of your beloved four-legged friend.

We wish your dog ‘tasty food’!

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