Choosing a dog food can be a tedious process – so much so that some of us buy the same food for our dog for the rest of our lives. “The truth is,” says Dr. Jessica Vogelsang, “that we now know that our pet’s nutritional needs can and must change over time based on factors such as their life stage, general health and activity levels.
At what age should I change my dog’s diet?
When it comes to nutrition, there are three stages of life that experts believe are important times in your dog’s life that you should discuss with your veterinarian The first is the puppy’s life stage. During this time, you’ll need a dog food that’s classified for “growth” because it’s designed specifically for puppies and kittens according to AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials, which sets standards for pet food in the USA). “Puppies and kittens who are growing need pet foods with a higher protein content and higher calorie content … to meet their growth requirements,” says Dr. Lorie Huston. “If these nutritional needs are not met, your pet’s growth may be compromised and/or your pet may become ill.” Pet foods classified for “Reproduction” or ” Pregnancy / Lactation” are also an advantage for pregnant or lactating women.
The second phase of life, for which you should consult your veterinarian about dietary changes, is the adult phase of life. “Obesity is the most common nutritional disease in dogs and cats today,” says Dr. Huston. “One reason for this is improper feeding at this stage of life. For example, [an adult] dog or cat – especially one that leads a sedentary lifestyle – can become overweight or even obese when fed puppy or kitten food. ” Pet food labeled “All Life Stage” can also provide excessive fat and nutrients that your adult pet doesn’t need because it’s designed for kittens and puppies. Instead, you should look for dog food that has been classified by AAFCO as “Adult Care”.
The third phase of life that you should be aware of is the senior phase of life. Older pets often have medical problems that can benefit from dietary changes. For example, a veterinarian may recommend a pet food containing glucosamine and/or fatty acids such as DHA and EPA for older dogs with mobility problems. According to Dr. Huston, feeding the right pet food can sometimes be an effective way to treat conditions such as chronic kidney and heart disease. The AAFCO does not have a life stage for seniors. Therefore, look for a pet food with an adult maintenance declaration for your senior dog.
What are other signs that it is time to change my dog’s food?
In addition to advising your veterinarian on diet when your dog is experiencing changes in his life stage and lifestyle, it’s important to look for certain visible signs that a change in diet is needed. Here are six common signs that you should be careful of…
1. dull, flaky coat
Diets that are rich in essential fatty acids are a key component in keeping a dog’s skin and thus its coat in top condition. Many dog foods are designed to improve skin and coat. Look for a diet that contains both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids to help your dog’s coat become shiny and bright in no time.
2. lethargy / weakness
If your dog has recently undergone a stressful event, illness or surgery, he may understandably be a little worn out. Diets high in antioxidants can boost the immune response to speed your dog’s recovery and get him back on his feet in no time. Remember, a dog that suddenly appears lethargic and weak should be examined by a veterinarian before making any dietary changes.
Depending on the size of the animal, pets are considered to be middle-aged to senior citizens between 5 and 7 years. And as our dogs grow older, their nutritional needs change. Older diets, for example, generally have fewer calories but more fiber and often contain supplements specific to this stage of life, such as joint support and antioxidants. Avoid pet foods for older pets, says Dr. Vogelsang. Designed specifically for kittens and puppies, it provides excessive “fat and nutrients that your older pet doesn’t need.
4. violent middle part
It doesn’t take much for a pet to have a little more weight on its body – and this is particularly noticeable in small dogs. “If your pet needs to lose a few inches,” says Dr. Vogelsang, “a diet specifically designed for weight loss will ensure that he or she still has the right amount of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals while consuming fewer calories. These diets use the latest research in pet weight management to ensure that your dog is on the road to a healthier weight in no time! However, if your dog is extremely overweight or obese, it’s best to consult your veterinarian for a therapeutic nutritional solution.
5. GI disorders
“Chronic flatulence, loose stools or a rumpy stomach can be the result of food intolerance or the poor quality of the food you give your pet,” says Dr. Vogelsang. GI disorder is an inconvenience for the owner and unpleasant for your pet. Consult your veterinarian as the solution may be as simple as switching to premium dog food or a sensitive stomach diet that is suitable for your pet.
6. itchy dog
Allergies often occur in pets, and food is only one of several possible causes. Whatever the cause, allergic pets can benefit from a low allergen diet that reduces the amount of potential allergens to which they are exposed. Your veterinarian may recommend either a prescription diet or an over-the-counter diet for sensitive skin, depending on your pet’s specific needs.
Plan for success
Choosing the right diet is one of the most important ways to ensure the long-term health of your dog. However, it is not a substitute for medical care. If you suspect that your dog may benefit from a new diet, consult a vet! Good food and a good selection will lead to a long, healthy and happy life.