When you first adopted your first dog, you took the time to research and speak with his veterinarian about dog 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
What Are Dog Nutritional Requirements?
Nutrients are substances that are obtained from food and used as a source of energy. Dogs love to play with their owners, and they need
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 is what will help young dogs grow and older dogs stay healthy.
When dogs are first born and for the next several weeks, their complete nutrition comes from their mother's milk. However, if the mother is ill or dogs are orphaned, a commercial milk replacement will need to be given to the young pups. Your veterinarian can educate you on how to choose a replacement, as well as how to feed newborn puppies who do not get milk from their mother.
Eventually, they'll begin to wean from their mother's milk—or a replacement liquid—and begin to digest solids. To begin the weaning process, start removing the mother from her litter for short periods of time. While the mother is away, introduce them to puppy food in a dish. Gradually increase the amount of time the litter is exposed to their own food, be encouraging, but do not force the food on them.
Once puppies are weaned, they'll get all of their nutrition from dog food, so be sure to choose something that's not only
Expect puppies to play with their food at first. While eating may start as a game, young dogs will enjoy the
For most dogs, they reach their adult
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.
7+ Age Dogs
An often overlooked segment in a dog's
Even if your dog hasn't begun to slow down yet, his body is still in need of vital nutrients to keep him feeling young and active. Consider a food like Hill's® Science Diet® Youthful Vitality dog food, specially formulated to fight the effects of
Youthful Vitality was created specifically more mature and senior
A dog will reach his senior years typically around age 11, but again it can differ between 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.
A senior dog food will be formulated to help maintain his normal body functions. Metabolism often slows down significantly, so senior dog's don't need that is food rich in calories. Problems with joints and mobility are also common among
Addressing Special Needs
Remember, dog nutritional requirements can change at any point in your pet's life regardless of age, especially if something happens to change his
Choosing Dog Food for Each Stage of Life
Don't forget to keep fresh clean water available to your dog, in addition to his food, at all times.
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.
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. Consider Hill's® Science Diet®, a full
Erin Ollila is a pet enthusiast who believes in the power of words and how a message can inform, and even