How Your Dog’s Nutritional Needs Change
Have you noticed how people change their diet over their lifespan?
Parents fret about getting enough vegetables into their children, and then those children grow up. In our 20s, many of us can eat all sorts of junk food and still have tons of energy and feel great. But then in our 30s, we tend to get more sensible about eating. We might be setting a good example eating our veggies for our children. In middle age, our metabolism slows and those pints and pizzas move straight to our waistlines. Often with age, we develop a list of things we can’t eat regularly anymore and things we try to work into our diets to stave off whichever age-related symptoms we fear. But we tend to think our dogs only change diets once in their lives – when they hit their first birthday.
Our best friends are very much like us. Their dietary needs change with age. An active two-year-old Lab and a sedate 12-year-old Yorkie have very different nutritional needs, so it makes no sense to feed them the same food. Dogs make different demands on their bodies at different points in life, just like us. A dog that is jogging with his human and playing fetch every day needs more calories than a dog who takes a leisurely 20-minute stroll once a day and enjoys long naps.[caption id="attachment_970" align="alignright" width="300"] Dog's dietary needs change depending on age and lifestyle.[/caption]
Different breeds have different health risks. Alsatians tend to have more delicate tummies. Very large breeds such as the Irish Wolfhound can have a predisposition to heart problems. Our nutritional advisors at Equipet are your best source of feeding advice for your specific dog. We know the breed-specific issues your dog may face as well as his lifestyle and individual health factors. But it is important to have a general understanding of how your dog’s nutritional needs change over time. You want to pick the best commercial food for your best friend. He’d do the same for you!
The Right Dog Food at the Right Time
Puppyhood is a demanding time. You are trying to teach your dog what is okay to chew and what isn’t, how to follow basic commands, and how to be part of your family. With the focus on vaccines, worming and general growth, you might worry about what to feed this adorable new addition to your family. But actually, when your dog is a puppy, your feeding choices are not that complicated. All puppies are growing rapidly and need food with a high nutrient content and plenty of calcium for their growing bones. Their teeth are in great shape, so hard, crunchy food is perfect. Once you find a quality brand such as Leader Natural Dog Nutrition, the only question is whether your dog is a large, medium or small breed. And if you aren’t sure, we can advise you.
Young adult dogs are usually active. They have boundless energy, and they should have one or two good walks a day as well as plenty of play time. If you can’t keep up with your energetic dog, you can get comfortable in a lawn chair and throw a ball for him to fetch. But even among young adult dogs, their energy and activity levels vary. A Terrier or Border Collie is going to be a lot more active than your average Spaniel or Sighthound – although working Spaniels and Sighthounds are extremely hard-working dogs who need food that provides high nutrition and adequate calories. The Leader range from Connolly Red Mills provides both a Standard and Supreme option with different versions for small, medium and large breeds.
Special Diets for Special Dogs
[caption id="attachment_975" align="alignleft" width="300"] The Leader range from Connolly Red Mills provides both a Standard and Supreme option with different versions for small, medium and large breeds.[/caption]
Society has become very aware of humans who are unable to process certain foods, and our grocery stores are stocked with all kinds of gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free choices. But our dogs can have food intolerances and sensitivities too. Symptoms can include loose stools, excessive gas, thinning fur and irritated skin. Often, switching to a dog food that does not include corn/ maize or chicken will keep these dogs happy and healthy. Lamb and rice based foods can supply the nutrition they need without the ingredients that cause them problems. Because the signs of a canine food intolerance can also indicate other health problems, you should always consult with your vet.
Many of us struggle with our weight in middle age, and our dogs have the same problem. We don’t get as much exercise as we did when we were younger. Both humans and dogs have a slower metabolism as we age. And let’s face it… both humans and dogs love treats. It’s so easy to overindulge both ourselves and our dogs. If your vet is concerned about your dog’s weight, the solution is a combination of exercise and diet. (Sounds familiar, right?) It’s best to avoid dramatic changes, but gradually increasing your walking time and switching to a lower calorie dog food such as Leader’s Slimline can help.
The hardest thing about owning a dog is that their lifespans are so much shorter than ours. Different breeds have different life expectancies. Some dogs are very old at 10; others are still spry at 12. But at some stage, it will become clear that your best friend is a senior. You want to provide the very best quality and quantity of life. Just like us, nutrition is a key factor. Talk to us about when you should switch your dog to a senior dog food.
It’s best to switch your dog’s food gradually, we recommend a 10 day period. For the first three dyas, give a mixture of one part new food to three parts old food. For days 4-6 feed a mix of equal portions. Moving into day 7 -9 you can give three parts new food to one part old food, leading to day ten when you can feed your dog the new food unmixed with the old. If your dog shows any signs of digestive trouble, slow this process down and give your dog more time to adjust to the new food.
[caption id="attachment_967" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Transitioning your pet onto a new food.[/caption]