How To Know If Your Dog Is Lacking Nutrition?

It’s important for dog owners to know the signs that their dog may not be getting proper nutrition. Lack of energy, dull coat, excess shedding, and constant hunger even after eating can all be indicators that your dog is not getting the right balance of nutrients. Keep an eye out for these cues from your canine companion to ensure their diet supports good health. Regular vet checkups can also help monitor your dog’s nutritional status.

How To Know If Your Dog Is Lacking Nutrition

What Are The Signs That My Dog Is Lacking Nutrition?

There are several signs that may indicate your dog is not getting adequate nutrition in their diet. Being aware of these signs can help you identify potential nutritional deficiencies early and make appropriate changes to your food or supplements. Some common signs of poor nutrition in dogs include:

  • Weight loss or being underweight – If your dog seems thinner or is losing weight unexpectedly, it could mean they are not getting enough calories and nutrients. Healthy dogs should have a visible waistline and easily feelable ribs when you run your hands along their sides.
  • Dull, dry coat – A lackluster, brittle coat or excessive shedding can reflect nutritional deficiencies. Omega fatty acids, zinc, and vitamins C and B contribute to skin and coat health.
  • Loss of muscle mass – If your dog is losing muscle over time or seems weaker, their protein intake may be insufficient to maintain lean muscle mass. Adequate protein is crucial for structural proteins and metabolic functions.
  • Lethargy and fatigue – Dogs nutritional deficiencies may appear less energetic or sleep more than normal. A balanced diet provides steady energy from complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats.
  • Reduced immune function – Minerals like iron and zinc, as well as vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins help support immune health. Dogs lacking these nutrients may get sick more often or take longer to recover.
  • Digestive issues – Chronic soft stool, constipation, or gas can indicate a food intolerance, imbalance, or difficulty digesting and absorbing nutrients properly. Support gut health by feeding a high-quality diet and monitoring stool quality.
  • Dental problems – Tartar buildup, gingivitis, and tooth loss can result from deficiencies in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin D. These nutrients help maintain strong bones and teeth.

If you notice any combination of these signs, discuss your dog’s diet and health with your veterinarian. They can recommend dietary changes or prescribe nutritional supplements if warranted. Catching deficiencies early makes them easier to correct.

What Kind Of Food Should I Be Feeding My Dog?

Choosing the right dog food is crucial for providing complete, balanced nutrition suitable for your dog’s age, size, activity level, and specific health needs. Here are some guidelines for selecting excellent quality dog foods:

  • Meat-first ingredients: Look for whole meat, meat meal, fish, eggs, etc. listed first. Whole meat contains moisture, while meat meals are dried. Both provide highly bioavailable protein.
  • Avoid filler ingredients: Avoid foods with excessive filler ingredients like corn, wheat, soy, by-products, and artificial colors/flavors. These provide minimal nutritional value.
  • Look for natural preservatives: Preservatives like mixed tocopherols (vitamin E) are safer than artificial preservatives like BHA, BHT or ethoxyquin.
  • Include healthy fats: Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids support skin, coat, immune and brain health. Look for fish, fish oil, flaxseed etc.
  • Include fruits and vegetables: Look for antioxidants like carrots, sweet potatoes, berries, spinach, and citrus fruits. Avoid added sugars.
  • Digestible carbs: Whole grains like brown rice and oatmeal provide steady energy for an active lifestyle. Avoid refined grains like white rice or flour.
  • Probiotics & fiber: Live probiotic cultures and fiber improve digestion, nutrient absorption, and immune functions.
  • Life stages formulas: Puppy, adult maintenance, senior or breed-specific formulas cater nutrient levels to a dog’s changing needs.

When possible, feed a high-quality commercial diet formulated to meet established nutritional standards. For homemade meals, consult your vet to ensure proper nutritional balance. Don’t forget to take advantage of PetSmart coupons to save on quality nutrition.

How Much Food Should I Be Feeding My Dog?

The amount you should feed your dog depends on their caloric needs based on age, size, activity level, metabolism, and health status. Here are some basic guidelines for determining quantity:

  • Start with feeding guidelines on the food: The packaging offers suggested amounts based on weight range. This is a good starting point.
  • Consider your dog’s weight and body condition: Weigh your dog regularly and feel their ribs. Adjust food if needed to achieve or maintain an ideal lean body condition.
  • Factor in activity level: Dogs who exercise more need more calories. Increase food a little at a time for active or working dogs to fuel their lifestyle.
  • Make adjustments as needed: Monitor your dog’s weight, energy, and stool quality. Increase or reduce the amount fed to maintain optimal body condition and health.
  • Divide into multiple meals: Feeding smaller meals 2-3 times per day can aid digestion and satiety especially for large breed puppies.
  • Measure carefully: Use a calibrated food cup and feed the same amount at each mealtime for consistency. Stick to one food cup that you know holds an exact quantity.

Your veterinarian can help determine the ideal calorie intake and meal portions for your individual dog based on their health. Reassess their needs over time as activity levels, metabolism, or health changes occur.

What Supplements Should I Be Giving My Dog?

While a nutritionally complete and balanced diet should provide all the nutrients your dog needs, certain supplements may provide additional health benefits in some cases. Discuss supplementing with your veterinarian, especially for long-term use. Some supplements to consider include:

  • Probiotics – Improve digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption. Helpful during illness, after antibiotics, for anxious dogs or those with gastrointestinal issues.
  • Fish oil – Provides anti-inflammatory omega-3s EPA and DHA. Helpful for dogs with allergies, arthritis, heart disease, or skin/coat conditions. Choose reputable brands tested for purity.
  • Glucosamine/chondroitin – Supports joint health and mobility. Helpful for senior dogs or breeds prone to joint issues like hip dysplasia.
  • Digestive enzymes – Aid digestion and nutrient absorption. Helpful for dogs with frequent gas, loose stools, or difficulty maintaining weight.
  • Antioxidants – Vitamins E and C, carotenoids, and bioflavonoids help reduce oxidative cell damage. Especially helpful for senior dogs.
  • Probiotics – Improve digestion, immunity, and nutrient absorption. Helpful during illness, after antibiotics, for anxious dogs or those with gastrointestinal issues.

Always follow dosing directions carefully and discuss any concerns with your veterinarian. Routine supplementation is rarely necessary for young, healthy dogs eating high quality commercial diets. Target supplements to support specific health conditions when warranted.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Overweight Or Underweight?

Regularly monitoring your dog’s body condition score and weight helps identify if they are overweight or underweight. Here’s what to look for:

  • Check their ribs: You should be able to easily feel (but not see) your dog’s ribs without pressing hard. If you can’t feel their ribs, they likely need to lose weight.
  • Look for waistline: Viewed from above, your dog should have a visible waistline behind their ribs, when looked at from above. If their belly sags and this waistline is absent, excess fat is present.
  • Assess proportion: Dogs should be longer than they are tall. Short-legged breeds should not appear exaggeratedly stout. Their chest should be wider than their abdomen.
  • Evaluate neck and limbs: Significantly thickened or fatty necks and limbs indicate excess body fat.
  • Muscle tone: You should be able to feel your dog’s muscles under a modest fat layer. Overweight dogs will lose muscle definition.
  • Energy levels: Overweight dogs tend to overheat and fatigue more quickly compared to healthy-weighted dogs.
  • Weigh regularly: Track their weight over time and adjust food as needed to achieve an ideal weight.

Discuss your dog’s body condition with your veterinarian and make a plan to help them safely reach and maintain a healthy body weight through an appropriate feeding regimen and exercise. Consistent checks help catch weight issues early.


Monitoring your dog’s health and nutrition carefully is part of being a responsible pet owner. Paying attention to signs like weight changes, dull coat, dental issues, or changes in energy levels can help you identify potential nutritional deficiencies your dog may have. Discuss any concerns with your veterinarian and work together to make dietary adjustments through high-quality foods, proper meal portions, and supplements when needed.

Karan Singh

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