Age appropriate food for dogs: Why it’s important

Posted by MyDogDoc on

When it comes to life-stage dog food, there is a huge amount of choice! But which stage is the best stage for your dog?. Understanding these ages and stages of dog food can help you make the best choices for your pup’s nutrition.

  • Picking the right food for our dogs depends on understanding what is happening to their bodies at different ages. Everything starts with good nutrition in puppyhood and it is important to choose the right puppy food for the size of your pup.

  • When your dog has finished growing it is time to transition them onto adult dog food and continue keeping an eye on their weight and shape. Learning how to body condition score is a helpful tool for this.

  • Once your dog is a golden senior you may need to look at their diet again with help from your vet.

Puppy Food

The food you feed your puppy can play a major role in how they grow up into adults and senior dogs.

Why do I need to feed puppy food?

Growing puppies have different nutritional needs to adult dogs, they require more calories and higher levels of protein to support their growth. They also need specific levels of calcium and phosphorus to support healthy bone development. Balance is the key though as excess calories and protein can cause puppies to grow too fast and can result in joint problems later in life and overweight puppies are more likely to become overweight adults.

Puppies that are not overfed will reach the same size (which is determined by genetics) but will grow more slowly and this means they will have a lower risk of developmental skeletal diseases. Learning how to body condition score when your pup is young is really helpful to keep an eye on their weight and shape as they grow.

Does my large breed puppy need a special puppy food?

Large breed puppies are those whose adult weight will be over 25kg such as Labradors, Rottweilers and Great Danes. Large breed puppies have a genetic propensity for rapid growth and are prone to skeletal abnormalities. Special Large breed puppy diets are formulated to regulate calories and calcium and this reduces the risk of these developmental problems.

How long should I feed puppy food for?

Puppies should be fed a puppy food until they are done growing. Puppies stop growing at different times depending on their size. Small and medium sized puppies are generally considered mature around 9 months of age. Larger breed puppies take longer to be skeletally mature- around 15 months of age for large breeds such as Labradors and 18-24 months for giant breeds such as Great Danes and Newfoundlands. This means you will need to feed a large breed puppy a specially formulated puppy food for longer than a small or medium sized dog.

The Healthy Adult

While it’s always best to check with your vet about your individual pup, the general rule is to start transitioning your puppy to adult food when they are done growing as their nutritional needs will be different. Choose an adult food that provides the specific nutrients, vitamins and minerals in a balance that’s correct for your dog’s breed size and activity levels to keep them in the best of health. For example working and sporting dogs such as racing greyhounds or agility dogs may need higher levels of energy.

Gradually introduce the new food by mixing it with your dog’s current food. Over about a week gradually reduce the amounts of the puppy food and increase the amount of the new adult food.

Continue to body condition score your pup to keep an eye on their shape and weight on the new food.

Golden Oldies- Senior dog food

Depending on their breed and size most dogs over 7 or 8 years are considered ‘senior’. This may be younger if your dog is a large or giant breed of dog and older if they are a small breed. Their age can be helpful in guiding food choices but all dogs are individuals. Just because they reach a certain age doesn’t mean they are necessarily old on a physiologic scale and need a diet change.

Your vet is your best ally in deciding what nutrition your dog needs based on their health status, disease risk and lifestyle so seek vet advise.

Senior dog foods vary, often they have fewer calories and higher quality, more easily digestible proteins. Some have certain nutrients or ingredients to help manage certain conditions such as added glucosamine/chondroitin and omega 3s to benefit the joints and help with arthritis.

Nutrition is a powerful tool and feeding your dog a healthy amount of high quality, age appropriate food is one easy way to help you dog live a healthy and happy long life. If you’ve got any questions about what to feed your dog, book an appointment with one of the MDD vets.

Adult dog food Age appropriate Diet Dog Dog diets Large breed dog food Life-stage Life-stage dog food Nutrition Puppies Puppy food Senior Senior dog food

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