When you first adopted your dog, you took the time to research and speak with your veterinarian about your dog’s nutritional requirements before choosing what you’d feed him. You know to never share table scraps with your pet, but do you know that as your dog ages, his nutritional needs will shift? A lifestage dog food will make it easier, but it’s important that you understand what your furry family member needs from his puppy to senior years.
There are different classes of nutrients that your dog needs in his diet: proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, and water. Choosing a balanced food that includes those nutrients in proper proportion is what will help young dogs grow and older dogs stay healthy.
Puppies (under age 1)
Once puppies are weaned, they’ll get all of their nutrition from dog food, so be sure to choose something that’s not only tasty, but healthy too. Puppies require and expend a lot of energy, so young dog nutritional requirements include increased protein to keep them fueled and feeling their best. Also, puppies may require three to four smaller meals a day to start and then slowly be transitioned to two larger meals per day. Talk to your vet about the best feeding regimen for your puppy to ensure he is getting his adequate daily nutrition.
Adult Dogs (1-7 years)
Most dogs reach their adult lifestage around their first year, so it is important to transition to an adult dog food. The amount to feed is based on size and activity level. If you have any questions as to how much you should be feeding your dog, it’s best to check with your vet, but never overfeed your furry friend. Obesity and overweight pets are a big problem. At this stage of life, dogs require nutrition for maintenance. So, an extremely active pet would have different nutritional needs from a less active lap dog. Also, a large dog requires more food in his diet than a small breed needs to ingest. Once you’ve chosen the type of food to offer to your dog, remember that other elements, such as temperature, will influence changes in your dog’s diet. Extreme heat and cold will burn more of your dog’s energy, and he’ll need to make up for that in his diet. Also, an activity change, such as starting an exercise regimen, will change the amount or type of food you offer your pet. Let us help determine how many calories your pet needs.
Because adult dogs don’t need the same nutrients to help them grow that puppies do, the best dog food for your adult dog is one that is specially formulated for his adult needs. For instance, Hill’s® Science Diet® Adult Advanced Fitness is specifically formulated to meet the needs of an active adult dog. Continuing to feed your adult dog a puppy food once he’s reached his full size can lead to weight issues, as puppy food tends to be rich in growth-based nutrients.
Homemade diets have some benefits, for example, you know exactly what is in it. But most homemade diets are not well balanced. Consult with your veterinarian to make sure the food is nutritious for your pet.
A dog will reach his senior years anywhere from age 7 to 11, depending on the size and breed of dog. Larger dogs tend to reach their senior years more quickly than smaller dogs due to the stress that is put on their body from being a large breed. As your dog ages, his body and nutrition needs will change once more. There will be metabolic and immunologic changes that require altering your dog’s diet. Every dog differs, so be sure to ask your at your dog’s annual checkup if he has reached or is approaching his senior years.
While your dog still has lots of life in him and probably doesn’t have problems playing and exercising with you, you may notice that he is starting to slow down a little and his play sessions aren’t as long as they used to be. Dogs are no different than humans in this regard. Just as we slow down with age, so do they, so it is vital to feed him a dog food that meets his needs. Because your dog has slowed down at this stage of his life, he needs more nutrients devoted to healthy organ, bone and muscle maintenance. A food formulated for his needs at this lifestage will keep him feeling young and active. Just because he slows down a little, doesn’t mean it’s a sign of the end; he still has lots of life and love left in him, he’ll just need a diet that helps keep him feeling fit. Choosing the right nutrition can help increase his activity, interaction and mobility as he ages.
A senior dog food will be formulated to help maintain his normal body functions. Metabolism often slows down significantly, so senior dogs don’t need that is food rich in calories. Sometimes there are therapeutic diets that can help manage disease conditions in your dog. For example, problems with joints and mobility are common among aging dogs, and there are therapeutic diets specially formulated for mobility to help promote strong bone and joint health. If you have any concerns about your dog’s health as he ages, be sure to consult your veterinarian to help you select the best dog food to meet your senior dog’s needs.
Choosing Dog Food for Each Stage of Life
One more quick note about feeding your dog a nutritious diet. When you love your dog so much, it’s easy to want to spoil him with treats and snacks. Just remember to share healthy dog treats, when training your pup. Dog treats shouldn’t make up more than five percent of your dog’s diet. Don’t forget to keep fresh clean water available to your dog, in addition to his food, at all times.
Deciding on what to feed your dog shouldn’t be a difficult choice. If you need help to decide between the many choices available to you, first, narrow down the options to your dog’s age group. Next, consult your vet for any nutritional considerations for your dog. The vet will consider your dog’s breed, size and energy output when helping you make the choice. Many foods are available through our online store for home delivery.