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18 May 2024

Animal Nutrition – Importance, Types And Needs

When we talk about animal nutrition, we refer to that discipline that studies nutrition in animals. It is, a priori, a simple idea, but it is of paramount importance today. In the livestock sector, the excellent food of the animals determines the quality of their milk, eggs or meat.

Would you be interested in understanding how an animal’s nutrition influences its state of health? Do you want to know how pets should be fed and what kind of food we can provide them? Consult our master’s degree in veterinary nutrition (with pets) and learn about the different diseases resulting from a poor diet.

What Is Animal Nutrition?

Animal nutrition is the branch of veterinary medicine that studies how food affects animals. In this sense, as happens with human nutrition, the best foods that can be given to animals are examined. Ensuring the absorption of the nutrients necessary for the body to function correctly is the goal of any animal and human nutrition.

Within this discipline, we find different specializations. On the one hand, we have pet nutrition; on the other, food is focused on farm animals. We could even see another type of nutrition, encompassing the entire set of exotic animals, zoos, and specialized reserves.

What Are The Different Processes Of Animal Nutrition?

Digestion can be divided into 4 main processes: digestion, circulation, respiration, and excretion. These are four almost universal processes that both animals and humans share, but a particularity that differentiates us from one another is the organs involved in the process. Not all animals have the same digestive system or the same organs involved in the absorption of nutrients.

What Is The Importance Of Animal Nutrition?

Food is essential for the health, well-being and vitality of animals. For this reason, they must receive all the nutrients they need to have a healthy and happy life. It is not a peculiarity unique to animals since we human beings, as well as plants and other organisms, need nutrients to develop correctly.

A balanced, natural food with selected ingredients for the animal will help prolong its life. When choosing this food, we must consider the animal’s age, size, level of physical activity it performs and the needs of its breed.Importance Of Animal Nutrition

What Are The Types Of Animal Nutrition?

Depending on the source from which we extract the nutrients, we will talk about two different types of nutrition: autotrophic and heterotrophic.

Autotrophic nutrition is what we find in living beings unable to produce their own nutrients. We would be talking, then, about plants or bacteria.

On the other hand, heterotrophic nutrition consists of ingesting other living beings to obtain the necessary nutrients to live. It is where animals and people can be found since they need other organisms to maintain themselves.

Even within heterotrophic nutrition, we can find subtypes: symbiotic, parasitic, saprophagous and holographic. The latter is where we humans and other animals can be located.

What Are The Nutritional Needs Of Animals?

Each animal, both individually and in its breed or type, has different nutritional needs. The nutrition of horses, for example, is not the same as that of cats. In this sense, we can divide nutritional needs into two types :

Maintenance Or Observation Needs

These are related to the regular maintenance of the animal’s physiology. They allow us to carry out the cell renewal processes, the movements of the muscles or the thermal regulation, for example.

Production Needs

These are associated with farm animals and are related to animal products such as milk, eggs, or a diet adapted for pregnancy or work.

Ingestive Behavior In Dogs

Food is a nutrient source, but it is another critical social component for most animals. In the case of the dog, the moment of eating also serves to mark the hierarchy.

Although many wild behaviors have been eliminated by evolution, we still find wolf-like traits such as dominance and submission in their genes. The more dominant member of the pack will eat first. The same goes for dogs, or it can happen with most of them.

Precisely for this purpose, it is recommended that dogs eat after the family, for example, and if we have more than one or this one lives with a cat, the ideal is to separate them at mealtime so that they are not competitive.

Ingestive Behavior In Cats

The cat has different behavior patterns than the dog regarding eating. These animals can eat 24 hours a day in the wild, provided they have free access to food. However, more excellent feeding activity has been detected at sunset and sunrise.

Cats tend to follow a fairly strict routine. However, when their human lifestyle is irregular, cats can become stressed, and their behavior can be unpredictable.

Our pets often eat the same thing: the feed or the product we buy daily in the supermarket. Because of this, we need to know their food needs in depth. Understanding what our pet needs and completing its nutrition with the best products will make it healthier and more vital and prevent possible conditions or diseases resulting from poor nutrition.


Nutrition is necessary for both humans and animals. Moreover, we neglect the nutritional requirements of the animals. On the other hand, when we return to the environment of pets, offering them healthy and balanced food will guarantee their dietary needs and allow them to have a good state of health.

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