A dog’s nutritional needs are influenced by their life stage and lifestyle, two things that should be taken into account when feeding your dog. A dog’s life stage or age is one of the most important considerations when choosing a dog food.
There are three categories for the different life stages or age when it comes to dog food:
Nutrition for Growing Puppies
- Puppy or growth
- Adult 7+
Nutrient requirements are higher during growth than any other life stage.
- Growing puppies may require two to four times more energy per pound of body weight compared to adult dogs.
- As a puppy approaches adulthood, growth and energy requirements slow.
Since growing puppies have different nutritional needs than adult dogs, they should be fed a growth or puppy food.
Growth or puppy foods are formulated to contain:
- Higher levels of energy (or calories)
- Higher levels of protein to build new tissues and support muscle skin and hair coat
- Fatty acids such as DHA to support brain and vision development
- Optimal levels of calcium and phosphorus for proper bone growth
- Antioxidants to support the developing immune system
A puppy’s stomach is too small to hold enough food in a single feeding to get all the nutrition they need for the day so they should be fed three times a day. Depending on their breed size, feedings can be reduced to twice a day when puppies are 4 to 5 months old.
Importance of Digestibility
A diet that is highly digestible reduces the amount of food required to deliver the nutrients needed and creates a smaller stool.
After a dog is fully grown, it is classified as an adult and enters what is called a maintenance diet when it comes to feeding.
An adult maintenance food should contain:
Adult 7+ Dogs
- Complete and balanced nutritional requirements
- High quality and highly digestible ingredients
- High quality protein to help maintain lean body mass
- Antioxidants to support a strong immune system
- Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids to help maintain and healthy skin and shiny coat
Most dogs at 7 years of age are still very fit and active but may be showing some signs of ageing and changes such as:
- Metabolism-reduced basal metabolic rate
- Activity level decreases
- Body condition-decreased lean mass and increased fat mass. Possible weight gain.
- Skin and coat-less shiny and thinner coat. May have a greying muzzle.
- Digestive system-Reduced ability to digest and absorb nutrients
- Brain function-behavioural changes
When feeding a senior dog, the diet should contain:
- High quality protein to avoid protein loss in tissues
- Slightly decreased fat compared to adult maintenance diet to maintain healthy body condition
- Antioxidants to support the immune system
- Highly digestible nutrients to support the ageing digestive system
- Adequate levels of omega-3 fatty acids to support joint health and mobility