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If only our dogs could stay puppies forever. Unfortunately they grow up, and as they grow they need different nutrients. So during the different stages of your dog’s life, you need to keep those needs in mind when selecting a dog food. However, knowing when and how to make the transition, what nutrients they need, and which is the best dog food can be overwhelming. Here we’ve laid out all the different nutritional needs of their life stages and made some great recommendations for the best dog food brands.
Puppies have very specific nutritional needs so they grow and develop. Puppies begin transitioning off their mother’s milk and three weeks and should be eating only dog food by seven to eight weeks. The transition can be difficult, but if you have the right food then you can make the transition much easier.
Puppies need a food that is small so it is easy to chew. They also need a food that is easy to digest since they are just starting to eat solid foods and their stomachs need to adjust. It is also recommended that puppies eat a food with more moisture. Puppies should be fed three times a day until they are six months old, then they should be fed twice a day. It is really important to keep puppies on a regular feeding cycle, so they can take full advantage of the nutrients provided by their food. Puppies should continue eating puppy food until they are one year old. Then you can begin transitioning them to an adult dog food formula.
Puppy food is also good for dogs who are nursing or pregnant. The extra nutrition helps puppies develop healthy and strong in the womb. So during your dog’s pregnancy you should transition them to puppy food until they are done nursing and then you can transition them back to regular dog food.
Since puppies are still growing they need more nutrients than adult dogs. Puppies need more energy so a higher caloric food is good. Puppies should have around 445 kcal per serving. Puppies also need more protein and fat for energy and growth. Puppy food should also contain a lot of amino acids for muscle development and a good balance of Calcium and Phosphorus for healthy bone growth. Omega Fatty Acids are also important for the healthy of their skin, coats, eyes, and important brain development. Good puppy food will also contain a full profile of vitamins and nutrients.
Top Five Recommended Dry Puppy Food Brands
- Wellness CORE Puppy Food Blend
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Food For Puppies
- Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
- Holistic Select Puppy Food
- Castor and Pollux Organix Puppy Food
Adult dogs nutrition needs are different depending on the breed, lifestyle, and general health. More active dogs require more protein and fat, while less active dogs require more carbohydrates. Some dogs have specific health concerns like sensitive stomachs or diabetes and need a food that meets those needs. All dogs though need a full range of vitamins and nutrients. The best way to pick the right adult dog food for your dog is to talk to your veterinarian, they can provide a variety of options that will help you make an informed choice. However, there are some manufacturers that make higher quality dog foods and you should start by considering their options.
High Quality Adult Dog Food Brands
- Blue Buffalo
- Taste of the Wild
- Natural Balance
- Holistic Select
- Newman’s Own
All of these dog food brands use quality whole food ingredients, have a great nutritional profile, and are free of preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, and heavily processed ingredients.
As dogs age they start to slow down. They are also more susceptible to chronic illnesses. So the dog food you feed them is really important to help maintain their health late in life. Dogs breeds vary on when to switch them to a senior diet, so check with your veterinarian when you should begin transitioning your dog. However a good general rule is small dogs are considered seniors at 10-12 years old, medium dogs are considered seniors at 7-8, and large breeds are considered seniors at 5-6. So these are ages you should have the conversation with your vet about changing their diet.
Senior dogs are less energetic so they require fewer calories. Senior dogs should have around 315 kcal per serving, otherwise they may begin to gain weight. Senior dogs also need a dog food that is higher in fiber to aid in digestive health. They also need a dog food lower in sodium to reduce their risk of heart attack and stroke. It is also good to feed your senior dog dry food over wet food if they can tolerate it to ensure their dental health. It is also good to look for foods contain Omega-3s and antioxidants to protect against free radical damage. Glucosamine and chondroitin are also recommended for joint health.
Top Five Senior Dry Dog Food Recommendations
- Fromm Gold Holistic Reduced Activity & Senior
- Orjen Senior Grain-Free
- Eagle Pack Senior Adult Food
- Holistic Select Vitalize Senior Health
- Blue Buffalo Life Protection Senior Formula
Full Life Cycle
There are also brands of dog food that are for the whole life of your pet. Purina Pro Plan is a great brand to consider if thinking about using one food your dog’s whole life.
The benefits of choosing a whole life dog food is that your dog never has to make the transition between foods which can cause stress and digestive issues.
Your dog needs different dog food for each stage of their life cycle. It is important to know what these needs are, find the best food to meet those needs, and transition them to a new food at the right time. If you follow these simple guidelines, your dog will be sure to live and long happy life with you.