Dog food for life stages

Every responsible dog owner should consider their pets diet. Pet’s require different food as they develop from puppies, to adults and on to senior dogs.  The correct food gives Fido all of the nutrients he needs to lead an active life. A puppy should get different food to an older dog and the food you should give your pet will also be determined by their size and breed.

Junior food

It is essential that puppies and young dogs get junior food. It provides the energy needed for the animal’s growth and the optimum nutritional requirements for their physical development. As your pet ages you  can progress on to adult food. This food will provide the dog with everything that he needs to stay fit and healthy throughout his life, but contains less protein than junior feed, because he is no longer growing.

Puppies growing into an adult dog is a journey full of change: In just twelve months your pet increases its weight many times. The energy and building blocks needed for this enormous growth are provided by the daily food intake. This means that the quality of the food absolutely determines the dog’s health. Of course, all ingredients must be carefully balanced too.

Three components are of particular importance for healthy growth

Protein contains amino acids, important as body building blocks. As the body cannot utilise all amino acids equally well, puppy food should contain appropriately high quality, i.e. animal protein. If this type of protein is also easily digestible, the body will be able to use these building blocks optimally and grow properly.

Minerals are not only important for the skeletal system but are also needed by many metabolic functions. As minerals interact, any deficiency or excess of one mineral can affect growth. This is why balanced puppy food should not be mixed with other ingredients such as fresh meat as the high phosphorus content of the meat may cause a calcium deficiency which in turn could lead to rickets (the bone becomes soft and brittle). Supplementing industrially prepared puppy food with mineral preparations (such as bone meal) is equally harmful. Excess calcium makes the bones too “hard” and results in severe growth problems.

The energy content of the food affects how fast the puppy grows. As a matter of principle, less is more. Only if the body is given enough time to grow, will it develop into a strong and fully developed adult. If the energy intake of a young dog is too high, i.e. by giving too much or too energy-rich food, he will grow too fast promoting joint malposition and/or insufficient hardness of bones or cartilages. This quick growth will not make the dog larger or stronger, as the adult size is genetically determined and not affected by the type of food.

Juvenile dogs need extremely high quality food specially formulated for the puppy’s needs, it is best to talk to an expert when choosing the right food for your puppy.

Adult Dog Nutrition

When is my dog considered an adult?

  • This depends of the size of the dog. Small dogs will be fully grown and considered adults quicker than large breed dogs. Small dogs can switch to adult food from 10-12 months old, medium dogs from 12-15 months and large breed dogs from 15-18 months.
  • When the time comes to switch your pets food over to adult make this a gradual change over a week. This is to avoid tummy upset as a straight swap could cause digestive upset for a few days.

What is the difference between puppy & adult food?

  • Puppy food packs a lot more calories per bite than adult dog food. The reason there is such a difference between adult dog food and puppy food is because puppies need calories for all the energy they have, plus they need calories to support their growing bodies and bones. When that puppy is then fully grown and considered an adult they do not need so much calories as they only need to maintain their weight and not put extra on. Feeding puppy food into adulthood can lead to dog a dog gaining excess weight.

What is the right adult food for my dog

  • The type of adult food you choose to feed really depends on your dog’s characteristics and finding what suits them best, for example if you have a very active dog they would need more calories than your couch potato so maybe an active dog food would be best here. Also the size of your dog plays a big role here, a large breed dog would be best suited to a large breed dog food as this will meet his nutritional needs as it will have added glucosamine and chronditon to support their joints.  If you are unsure about what would suit your dog best you can pop into any of our stores to receive a free consultation with one of our pet experts who can talk you through the brands available.
  • It’s best to limit treats: Dogs love to snack and like being given extra treats. However, these should really be the exception. Otherwise it’s possible that your dog will start rejecting her regular food and will only want to have their favorite snacks. Treats should only be used as rewards, training & for special occasions.

Senior feed

When your dog gets older, you should change to senior feed. Breed will make a difference as to when this happens, because larger breeds age faster than smaller ones. On average, you can change the food after eight years. An important component of senior food is that it contains very high quality protein to prevent muscular tissue from breaking down. Complete food contains less energy, because older dogs have lower energy requirements. Your dog can easily and suddenly gain weight on the same food, because older animals often move less.

Older dog: tailor-made nutrition

  • Simply changing the amount of adult food is not a good idea. The composition of protein, energy, minerals and vitamins should be optimized according to age. This relieves the digestive system and supports the declining immune system. 
  • A special senior dog food that offers a high-quality and easily digestible composition is ideal. In dogs, changes in metabolism become noticeable from around the age of eight. In order for you to meet these changed needs, it is important to switch to high-quality senior feed.
  • As a dog ages, it becomes harder for their bodies to maintain a healthy weight and lean muscle mass. For this reason, senior dogs require a diet rich in meat protein. Senior dogs are also at risk for low blood sugars. A properly formulated senior dog food includes fresh vegetables and fruits, instead of grains and gluten, to help maintain healthy blood sugar levels.
  • Overall, a good senior dog food is low in calories, high in fiber and provides adequate protein and fat for a dog’s aging body.

Whether you have a puppy, young dog, adult or senior dog a trip to your local Maxi Zoo store for a free consultation is a good idea.  Our store staff are trained in pet care and can help you tailor your pets nutrition and give you tips on treats, dental hygiene and much more.  You can find your local Maxi Zoo store here.