In general terms, dogs require specific nutrients in their diet rather than specific ingredients.

The adaptability of the dog allows for commercial diets to differ widely in their ingredient composition. Digestibility and feed value of the diet may also vary.

The role of nutrients

As with most other species, research and feed trials have resulted in the minimum and maximum recommended levels being established for each nutrient in the diet.

Nutrients support life andcan be divided into water, protein, carbohydrates (starch, sugar and fibre), fat, vitamins and minerals.

The role of these nutrients and their source from different ingredients will discussed in more detail in a later feature.

Energy is important for active, working dogs and those that need to gain weight.

Why size and age matters

The wide range of body weights and body types within the species complicates energy requirements and these are generally related to metabolic body size, with allowances made for size of the dog and the activity level.

Larger dogs require fewer kilocalories per kilo of bodyweight than do smaller dogs.

Life stage, health status, exercise and environmental conditions will all affect energyrequirements.

As in the horse feed sector, there are now many different types of dog food to meet the nutritional requirements of the different breeds and sizes, as well as activity level of the dog.

The dogs daily energy need is the basic requirement that needs satisfying.

Remember that when deciding what to feed, the ingredients and nutrient specifications listed on the feed bag will take into account the volume required to be fed to meet the dogs energy requirement.

At the same time it will keep the other nutrients in balance. If your dog has a specific dietary need, then consultant your vet or a specialised pet nutritionist.

For more information contact Baileys Horse Feeds (tel: 01371 850247) or visit www.baileyshorsefeeds.co.uk