The feeding of dogs is different for each stage of the life of these animals. For this reason, dog food and other industrial foods are formulated according to the stage of life. This is because each stage has particular nutritional requirements. Therefore, for each stage of your dog’s life, there is a specific type of food.
Remember that the main entity that proposes dog food regulatory policies, AAFCO, only recognizes two types of dog food: food for puppies and food for adult dogs. The other types of food according to the dog’s life stages are a response from manufacturers to consumer demands.
Keep reading this Best Pets Lover article and discover the dog’s diet according to its age :
Feeding of puppies until weaning
Newborn puppies feed exclusively on their mother’s milk, which provides them not only with adequate nutrition but also with the necessary immunological defenses. During this period they have a very high growth rate, so they need food rich in protein, calcium, and fat, and they also need to be fed frequently.
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Between the sixth and eighth week of life, the puppies also begin to eat soft food, in the form of porridge or puppy food moistened with water. This process is known as “weaning”, as they stop feeding from the mother’s teat to start eating solid food.
On the other hand, abandoned dogs that cannot receive food directly from their mother must be fed by us, a particularly hard and complicated task for those who do not have experience. Learn more about what to feed young puppies.
Puppy feeding after weaning
After the eighth week, the average pup is already weaned and is being fed solid food. From this moment until the dog becomes an adult, growth is very fast, and physical activities are very intense and frequent, so the puppy needs food rich in protein and fat.
Of course, the specific nutrient requirements will depend on the particular conditions of each puppy, the environment in which he lives, and the amount of activity he engages in. However, this stage is usually very dynamic for all puppies, as well as the stage in which the dog increases its mass and volume. When it comes to feeding at this stage, we need to visit our veterinarian. Remember that very specific breeds such as the American Bully need extra calcium to help strengthen their bones, which will bear a lot of weight in the future.
You can feed him four times each day for the first three months. You can feed your puppy three times each day between the ages of 3 and 6 months. From 6 months to adulthood, you can feed your puppy 2 times a day.
Keep in mind that different breeds of dogs mature at different ages, so there is no set age at which all dogs stop being puppies. In general, small and medium-sized dogs are adults around one year of age, while large and giant-sized dogs are adults around 18 months of age. Before changing the type of food for your dog, consult your veterinarian.
Adult dog food
This stage is known as the maintenance stage because dogs don’t get any bigger, they just need to maintain their mass and volume. Adult dogs have a lower calorie requirement per kilogram than puppies. In other words, they do not need foods that are so rich in protein and fat, but rather require foods that are a little less energetic.
Of course, hunting dogs, working dogs, those involved in intense dog sports, and all dogs engaged in intense or prolonged physical activity require food that provides them with more calories than pet dogs. In this situation, you must purchase food with additional calories so that your dog gets the required energy without consuming much more food.
The feeding of bitches during pregnancy and lactation is a special case of feeding adult dogs that we will talk about next.
senior dog feeding
Older or elderly dogs need diets that are appropriate to their lower levels of activity and that do not have excessive amounts of protein so as not to damage their kidneys. Formulas for these dogs are usually indicated with the word ” Senior ” in the name and usually (or should) have more easily digestible ingredients. Senior dogs will benefit from receiving nutritional supplements or vitamins for senior dogs.
Keep in mind that not all dogs are considered seniors or elderly at the same age. The age at which dogs are considered seniors often varies depending on the size of the dog. A guide to thinking about the age at which a dog is elderly is as follows:
- Small breeds: 12 years of age or older.
- Medium breeds: 10 years of age or older.
- Large breeds: 8-9 years of age or older.
- Giant breeds: 7 or more years of age.
Of course, this guide is only a general reference and your dog may age sooner or later, depending on his genotype and the environment in which he lives, so you must consult with the veterinarian to know when you should change your dog’s diet adult for that of a senior dog. Remember that older dogs need to burn their food. Examine the various exercises for older dogs that you can do with him.
Feeding of pregnant bitches
Gestation in dogs lasts approximately 9 weeks (between 58 and 63 days). During the first weeks, pregnant bitches do not need a caloric intake markedly higher than maintenance, since the puppies in gestation do not grow much. However, in the last two or three weeks of pregnancy, the bitch’s energy requirements go up a lot and she needs food with many more metabolizable calories and a high percentage of protein.
Ideally, it is the veterinarian who tells you at what point in the pregnancy you should change your dog’s food and what specific food to give her, according to her assessment as a specialist. Find out more about the dog’s pregnancy week by week.
Dog feeding during lactation
At this stage, the puppies are growing at an accelerated rate and feed on the mother’s milk that the bitch must produce. Therefore, the energy demands of the bitch are much higher than those of the maintenance stage, and even those of pregnancy.
The highest demand for caloric intake lasts until the pups are weaned, but the highest demand occurs between parturition and the following four weeks.
Although some brands of dog food have formulas for bitches in the lactating stage, it is very important that the veterinarian indicates the food that the bitch should receive and do the respective follow-up.
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