What It Actually Means to be a Nutrient Dense Dog Food

by Lexi Notabartolo

Happy dog on a beach with the ocean behind them

Meet one of Sundays’ superpowers: All the nutrients your dog needs to live a happy, vibrant life without the junk fillers they don’t.

If you’ve spent any time shopping for dog food lately, it can feel like there is an ever-expanding universe of buzzwords designed to confuse dog parents about what their dog needs to live a happy, healthy life. 

The term ‘nutrient’ is one of those words that gets thrown around in such a way that the true meaning gets muddy. Sundays prides itself on being a nutrient dense dog food, but what does that actually mean and why is it so important to the health of your dog? Let’s dig in.

What is a nutrient?

At the most basic level, a nutrient is a substance that provides nourishment essential for growth and the maintenance of life. Proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals are all nutrients that life forms need to function properly. Anyone who has watched the Blue Zone documentary on Netflix, however, knows that what a body is fueled by matters more than simply getting fuel in there. 

Diets that are unbalanced and contain too much of some nutrients or not enough of others don’t serve the overall health and well-being of humans, and it’s no different for dogs. You may be able to augment a diet that’s lacking in some vitamins and minerals with supplements like multi-vitamin pills, but it’s (generally) preferable to get what is needed naturally from a well-balanced diet with a variety of whole food sources.     

How to think about dog nutrient needs

This core idea – that dogs deserve a naturally complete and balanced diet – fuels everything we do at Sundays. Based on their physiology, research shows that around 30 percent of a dog’s diet should be coming from lean protein along with organ meats like kidney or liver that offer essential vitamins and minerals. A moderate amount of healthy fat is important for dog skin and coat health, though too much can throw their diet off balance. Carbohydrates are needed for energy, but dogs don’t require a large amount nor do they benefit from the same kinds of carbohydrates as humans do. Lentils, chickpeas, and potatoes, for example, are commonly cited as healthy carbs for humans but offer very little nutritionally to dogs

The remaining vitamins and minerals a dog needs can be obtained through fruits and vegetables. If done correctly, a food can offer all of the needed nutrients a dog needs without synthetic vitamins or supplements. Sundays is one of the few brands on the market that uses no synthetic vitamins and reaches nutritional goals entirely through the nutrients that naturally occur in meat, fruits, and vegetables.

How is a dog food nutrient dense?   

With this context, nutrient density is best understood as the ratio of calories in a single serving to the overall nutrient profile a dog needs to be healthy and active. Using our food as an example, each cup of Sundays contains about 610-650 calories(depending upon the recipe), which is about twice as nutritionally dense as common retail brands. This means that a dog needs to eat twice as much of many other foods to get the same calories and nutrients as they get in Sundays. For picky eaters or dogs that are carrying excess weight, this can further put their health in danger. Where is the extra bulk in other dog foods coming from? Typically, cheap fillers like rice, potatoes, and other starchy carbohydrates. This might fill a dog bowl, but it’s not in the best interest of most dogs.  

The best way to support your pup’s long term health and create your own ‘Dog Blue Zone’ is to make sure they’re getting the right amount of calories without any unnecessary fillers or additives. We hear from many people who switch to Sundays that they find they’ve been over or underfeeding their dogs without knowing it and once their pups are on a naturally balanced diet like Sundays, they see increased energy levels, shinier coats, and overall improvements in their dog’s demeanor. Check out what our customers have to say

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