Watch Out for These Nutrient Deficiencies While Cooking for Your Dogs

by Sreeraj Krishnan


One of the basic keys to ensure that your dogs live a longer and healthier life is by providing them with a good diet. Your dogs need a full list of fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals to live a happy and healthy life. And these can only be provided if your dogs get the right diet.

You might be often disappointed with the commercial pet food and have thought of cooking food for your pets. Well, you can indeed provide your pooch with required nutrients through the home-cooked food, but it is equally essential to properly balance your dog’s home-cooked meals.

Nutrient deficiencies while cooking for dogs, dog cuddled up in bed

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What Does Your Dog’s Need?

Dogs need a subtle combination of vitamins, minerals,omega-3 and 6 to remain well-nourished and healthy. Even home-cooked meals won’t satisfy your dog’s dietary requirements completely until it is fully balanced and has all the required quantities of nutrients. So, it is very essential to see if your home-cooked meals provide your dogs with the proper amount of nutrients.

Meat, fruits, and vegetables are full of nutrients, and combining them can provide a nutritious diet to your dogs. The important factors involved while making a balanced diet are:-

  • Protein and Amino Acids- Amino acids are organic compounds that form proteins. These together are the building blocks of life. The amino acids in a dog’s body help in repairing of tissues, its growth, and maintenance as well. They are also essential in the creation of enzymes required to carry your dog’s body functions. Including high-quality meat in your pooch’s meals can be a good source of proteins and amino acids.
  • Fats- Fats are beneficial in providing energy to your dog’s and should be served in appropriate amounts daily. These not only provide twice the calories compared to proteins and carbs but also helps in optimizing the metabolism. 
  • Omega-3 and 6 Fatty Acids- There are certain fatty acids that your dog’s body cannot produce. They depend on their meals to provide them with these fatty acids. Omega-3 and Omega-6 control your dog’s immune system and improve their skin and coat health. Getting these fatty acids enough from meals can benefit your dogs in many ways.
  • Vitamins and Minerals- Dogs need food that is rich in vitamins and minerals for a healthy body. It is important to serve them with sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals to avoid any kind of deficiencies.
  • Whether you buy food for your dogs or cook it yourself, your dogs always need a balanced diet to stay healthy. If your pooch’s diet lacks ample nutrients, they may suffer from various nutrient deficiencies. Let’s learn a little more about the common nutrient deficiencies that can result from imbalanced homemade meals-

    Long-chain omega 3 fatty acids EPA and DHA

    The function of these can be precisely summarized as- functioning of the brain. Typically found in cold-water fish and algae, long-chain fatty acids are important cell membrane components involved in cell signalling. These are essential for the normal functioning of the brain and retina.


    Calcium serves two vital functions in a dog’s body- firstly, it is a structural component of teeth and bones and secondly, it is a cellular messenger involved in nerve impulse transmission.

    Low calcium levels can be a serious problem and can result in spontaneous bone fractures and nerve damage. Diets that contain mainly meat without additional calcium are the most common source of calcium deficiencies in dogs.

    Vitamins D and E

    There are two major forms of vitamin D- vitamin D2 (found in plants) and vitamin D3 (found in fatty meats and liver). Vitamin D mainly enhances the intestinal absorption of calcium and phosphorus and maintains the control of calcium homeostasis in the body. The deficiency of vitamin D in a dog’s body can cause rickets and bone deformities.

    Vitamin E is the major fat-soluble antioxidant that prevents oxidative damage to cell membranes and DNA/RNA structures. Vitamin E deficiencies may lead to degenerative muscle diseases associated with muscle weakness and reproductive failure.


    Zinc boosts the immune system and the quality of your dog’s skin and fur. It has many essential functions in the body including protein synthesis, wound healing, and stabilizing of DNA/RNA structures and cell membranes. Apart from this, non-toxic zinc can interfere with the absorption of other minerals, when consumed in large quantities.

    Lack of zinc may cause bone and joint problems and decreased healing of wounds. So, balancing it well in your dog’s meals is essential.


    Choline plays an important role in your dog’s health and can have a direct impact on the functioning of their liver. The choline deficiencies can affect the normal functioning of the liver and lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver as well.


    Copper helps to absorb iron, which participates in the synthesis of melanin and helps to stop anaemia. It is a trace mineral and is incorporated in a variety of proteins and enzymes which perform essential functions like- formation of RBCs, formation and maintenance of bones and connective tissues, and normal nerve fiber formation. Copper deficiency may lead to connective tissue disorders, poor coat colour, and bone and joint disease.

    Signs of Nutritional Deficiency-

    Nutrient deficiencies while cooking for dogs. dog eating from floor

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    There are some key symptoms that dogs show when their body does not receive the required nutrients in their diet. Besides the telltale signs of each nutrient deficiency, here are some common symptoms-

    • Change in faeces- Your dog's faeces should be malleable, free of mucus residue and contain no foreign substances. If you observe any changes outside of this, it could be a signal of some digestive problems (including nutritional deficiency).
    • Skin or coat disorders- Dogs require a wide range of nutrients from their diet to keep their fur shiny and healthy. If they do not get a properly balanced diet, they might become prone to hair loss and skin infections.
    • Depression and lethargic behaviour- A diet that lacks sufficient amounts of nutrients can lead to an unhealthy gut biome. This is a signal for your pooch’s depressed mood and lethargic behaviour. They might hence show no interest in playing, going out for a walk, or participating in activities they usually enjoy.
    • Lack of energy- Dogs get their day to day energy from the meals they eat. If their meals lack the required amount of vitamins and minerals, they will be less energetic. For your pooch to play and jump all around the house, it is essential to give them a balanced meal every day.

    What Can You Do?

    If you are that pet owner who wants to feed their pooch with home-cooked meals, here is the answer for you to balance their meals with the proper amount of nutrients.

    1.   Consult a veterinary nutritionist about nutritionally appropriate recipes for your dogs.
    2.   Find a good, reputable company that can provide you with the specially formulated vitamin mix and recipe.
    3. Consider rotating your main meat sources to provide your dogs with essential nutrients from different foods. This not only boosts their immune system but also increases tolerance to dietary changes. These nutrients include-
    • Fatty Acids
    • Vitamins and Minerals
    • Amino Acids

    Your dogs rely on a balanced meal every day. The nutrients are building blocks of their body. Make sure they get the required and healthy diet daily to live a long, healthy, and happy life.

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