Nutrients in adequate proportion and at the right age help keep dogs healthy hence when choosing the right diet for your dog; it is crucial to consider age-appropriate nutrition. Over the years, one of the most significant breakthroughs in the world of veterinary science is the recognition of different nutritional needs that dogs have as they grow older. When you have many factors that play in determining dog food, it gets confusing and, at times, frustrating. Fear not! - here's our guide to nutrients required at different life stages in a dog's life.
Before you learn more about age-appropriate nutrition, you might find it interesting to know the function of each nutrient –
Dietary Fiber: Fiber is found in substances like cellulose, pectin, and lignin. They are sourced from plant-based materials like root vegetables, wholemeal cereals, and fruits—dietary fiber help to support a puppy's digestive system and prevent gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and constipation.
Fats: Fats act as a source of energy in a balanced diet. They add to palatability and texture to puppy food. Besides providing necessary energy, fats deliver fatty acids crucial to body functions. They also add to improving coat quality and support a healthy nervous system.
Protein: Protein helps in forming, developing, and renewing tissues, muscles, and skeletons. Essential amino acids cannot be made by a puppy's body and must be obtained from food, and non-essential amino acids are derived from essential amino acids - both are equally important.
Minerals: Macro-minerals like calcium, phosphorous, and potassium are essential for key body functions like healthy bone development, a strong nervous system, and muscle metabolism. Micro minerals like Manganese, Copper, and iron are required to maintain healthy skin, blood, and coat.
Vitamins: Vitamins help in fat metabolism, blood clotting, immune function, brain and liver There are two types of vitamins – water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Puppyhood is a time of excitement confusion, isn't it? In this time of frolic, many pet parents tend to override the need for the right nutrients for their puppy. Since puppies are always in a hurry to grow up - much against our will - they need more calories along with high levels of vitamins, minerals, fats, fiber, and protein. Nutrients help puppies grow well - supports the immune system, minimizes potential obesity, reduces the risk of orthopedic disease, and promotes healthy skin and coat. A nutrient-rich diet builds tissue and bone density which are essential when a puppy grows older into an adult and then a senior dog; however, their precise need varies on the breed's size.
Dietary Fiber: Dietary fiber helps to support a puppy's digestive system and prevent gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and constipation Fat: The Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) claims that puppies need more fat in their diet, too - 8.5%. Why? Because they have a larger surface-to-volume ratio than adult dogs - their bodies burn off heat quicker than adults; in turn, their bodies need to work harder to maintain an ideal body temperature.
Protein: A puppy needs around 22.5% of calories from protein to grow well - 'Protein' in puppy food is packed with essential amino acids required for good mental and physical well-being.
Minerals: Puppies need 1% of their diet to consist of calcium. Large breeds require more calcium than smaller breeds in order to help their joints support healthy body weight as they transition into adulthood. Apart from calcium, macro and micro minerals like phosphorous, potassium, iron, manganese, and copper are essential to strengthen a puppy’s cognitive function.
Vitamins: A puppy is not able to store water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin B, i.e., Thiamine and Riboflavin. Hence, it is important to ensure that vitamin B is an essential part of your puppy’s daily diet.
Puppy food that is usually used up to 12 months of age is not a universal rule - since smaller breeds reach their adult height and weight by nine to twelve months, they need to switch to adult food by around ten months. Contrarily, large breeds reach their optimum size and weight by eighteen to twenty-four months. Too little or too much specific nutrients can negatively affect your puppy's health leading to problems with the skeletal structure and weight. By selecting a puppy food that's suited to the size and life stage of your dog, you give them the right puppy nutrition.
Diet for Adult Dog
Senior Dog Diet
When puppies switch to adult food, it's good to start when they are close to their adult size and weight. Small and medium breeds need more protein, vitamins, minerals, and fibers than large breeds, and since larger breeds attain adulthood at twenty months, they need food with less concentrated fats. However, more attention needs to be paid to substances like glucosamine to help support healthy joints.
Dietary Fiber: A healthy dog diet must contain fibers between 2 and 4%. Both soluble and insoluble fibers are essential for the smooth functioning of the gastrointestinal tract.
Fat: An adult dog requires 5.5% of its daily calories from fats.
Protein: An adult dog’s diet must contain between 18 to 25 percent of daily dietary protein.
Minerals: The minimum requirement for calcium and phosphorus for adult dog maintenance is between 0.4 and 0.5%.
Vitamins: The minimum requirement for calcium and phosphorus for adult dog maintenance is 5000 IU per kg.
As dogs grow older, they become less active, and most of the body's energy goes into rest and recuperation. Large breeds tend to age faster at around seven years, and smaller breeds tend to age later at approximately ten years. A senior dog requires fewer calories but more protein and fiber.
Dietary Fiber: Since older dogs are prone to constipation, they need a daily fiber intake of 3 to 5%. When senior dogs are fed dry food, it helps to control gum disease and supports a good digestive system.
Fat: A senior dog diet would require around 8% of fat to keep them healthy.
Protein: Senior dogs require around 75 grams per 1000 calories of protein.
Minerals: Calcium should be in higher proportion to prevent orthopedic disease, while the rest of the minerals can be in adequate proportion.
The dog plays the very important role of guardian of the hearth: it has always been considered a faithful and sincere friend. Its presence, as a pet, has grown over time. To ensure a lasting journey, it is necessary to think about the health of the dog at every stage of his life, feeding him in an adequate and healthy way with the most suitable foods according to individual needs. A properly fed dog will, in fact, be a strong, healthy and long-lived friend.