How do my dog’s nutritional needs vary over time?
Your dog’s body changes with each stage of his life, help him stay healthy at each stage.
Dogs and humans grow and age in similar ways. From birth, puppies go through a period of rapid growth and development followed by adulthood. During adulthood, growth has ceased and a period of maintenance is sustained, until they reach their golden years as a senior/geriatric dog.
This review of how your dog grows outlines some nutritional recommendations to help maintain a healthy life throughout all stages of his life.
Ideally, you should introduce puppies to small amounts of puppy food as early as four (4) weeks while it’s still nursing so that when weaning where the puppy stops nursing around six (6) weeks, he can easily transition to a diet of puppy food exclusively. There are many facts to take into consideration when choosing a food designed to help your puppy get the best start which will lay the foundation for a healthy life. Good quality food will provide your puppy with all the energy he needs during this first stage. When compared with adult dogs, puppies need a lot of calories, protein and fat to fuel a growing body and mind.
While it is acceptable to feed your puppy a puppy formula up to two (2) years, there are some breed specifications that you should be aware of. In general, most breeds are considered to have reached adulthood around their first year. Toy or small breeds reach maturity earlier at approximately nine (9) months, while large and giant breeds take longer to reach maturity at fifteen (15) months to twenty-four (24) months.
Once a dog reaches adulthood, his body changes from the rapid growth phase to maintenance mode. During this period, a lower calorie diet will prevent your dog from consuming excessive calories and gaining weight. The goal is maintain a level of physical activity to keep your dog healthy throughout his life. During this maintenance stage which is the longest stage of a dog’s life, other needs may arise such as the requirement for food for dogs with sensitive skin or digestive tracts. Some dogs may lead very active lives engaging in competitive sports for which they’ll need more protein to perform at an optimum level. Consult with your veterinarian on what type of food your dog should consume in order to meet any specific needs he may have.
ADULTS 7+ YEARS
Many owners don’t know that as adult dogs age, they develop cognitive deficits and physical deterioration related to advancing age around seven years (even earlier in some dogs). This is because some dogs deteriorate at a faster rate than others. Apart from slowing down, your dog may forget tricks that he’s learnt and may even become a bit withdrawn or even anti-social. To combat the effects of these changes, diet modification can help nutritionally manage the clinical signs associated with the deterioration. During this phase a low calorie, but high protein pet food formula is best. To prevent excessive weight gain to decreased activity and metabolic rate, but to prevent excessive loss of lean muscle mass.
FINDING THE RIGHT FORMULA
Each dog is different in its own way. Work together with your dog’s veterinarian to find the right feeding plan for each stage of his life and also to correct any deficiencies your dog might have in order to provide the best nutrition possible so that he can have an active, long and healthy life.
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