Veterinary nutritionists recognize the different nutritional needs that dogs have as they mature. What are a dog’s life stages, and what foods are the best for them?
Puppies begin to feed from about two weeks of age, from the moment they open their eyes. The leading producers of feeds generally have special feed for this period of life. For example, in Royal Canine has a special Starter series, designed for puppies in the period of weaning from the mother to 2 months of age.
Puppy – from 1.5 to 6-10 months
Large and small dogs develop differently: a small dog ceases to be a puppy as early as 6 months, and the aging process can begin very late (dogs of small breeds generally live longer). A puppy of a large breed becomes an adult only to two years old, and from the age of six can already begin to grow old. The larger the breed of a dog, the shorter (unfortunately) it’s life. Therefore, it is important to take into account not only the age features of feeding, but also pedigree.
Puppy foods have high levels of fat, protein, phosphorous, calcium, sodium, etc. to support a rapid development and growth.
Large breed dogs are at high risk for orthopedic diseases. You can lower the risk feeding a food that maintains a slower and steadier growth rate. Large breed puppy foods have a slightly lower levels of phosphorous and calcium, lower energy content, and a specially balanced phosphorous:calcium ratio. Dogs growing still end up at their expected size, it just takes them a little longer to get there.
Tip: when you just brought the puppy home, do not start immediately to feed it with all the goodies that are in the house. At least the first two weeks, follow all the instructions of the breeder, so as not to spoil the puppy’s stomach by a tough change of diet!
A young dog (about 1 – 3 years)
When a puppy reaches about 80 percent of its adult size, the growth rate slows and you can switch the food to adult. Most specialists recommend that puppies eat puppy food until they are around 12 of age, but it is your individual choice.
Adult foods are the appropriate for most adult dogs. However, few exceptions to exist. If your dog is nursing, pregnant or his/her health conditions change nutritional needs, you need to choose special food.
The maturity period (2-3 to 7-8 years)
Here is important not to overfeed the dog with too high-calorie “tasty” food, it must match the breed and the energy needs of the dog.
Aging (7-8 – 10-12 years)
At what age is the dog considered old? It has already been said that dogs of large breeds grow old before small ones. Male dogs retain playful somewhat longer than the female ones. As a rule, the you see the first signs of graying around the muzzle, particularly in breeds with dark coats or back muzzles, the weakening of sight and hearing, the propensity to “sofa” pastime, sometimes irritability. The dog can begin to grow or (usually with diseases) lose weight. Most dogs have various dental diseases. This should be taken into account when choosing a special food that will maintain the health of the dog and prolong her life.
The reason of becoming overweight is simply that the ratio between energy consumption and energy intake is skewed. Full responsibility for dog’s exercising and feeding is on the owner. Some dogs are more prone to becoming overweight (beagles, Labrador retrievers), right feeding and exercises helps them stay in healthy weight too.
Over-abundance can sometimes occur, if overfeeding becomes a habit, it leads to the fat accumulation around the internal organs and excessive weight gain. It is important to have a feeding plan: when, how much, and what is fed to the dog.
Weight management is pretty difficult in practice: the food serves as a reward, for the hierarchy demonstrating, and indeed, it is hard to not give a piece of your own meat to someone looking straight in your eyes and waggling their tail.
You should weight the dog few times a month, and to keep track of it. If your pet needs, weight loss should not be fast, about 0.5 – 1.0 % of the weight per week. You can make getting treats more challenging, use activation toys, create various tasks, which are rewarded with a light treat.