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How To Feed Your Dog For Its Life-Stage

Published: 22nd April 2010 10:10

How To Feed Your Dog For Its Life-Stage

With so many aspects of our pet's life to consider, owning a dog is not a walk in a park.  One of the most important areas a pet owner has to pay particular attention to is diet and nutrition.  There are so many pet foods available in today's market, it's easy to become confused about what your pet's dietary needs are during the different life stages of its life.  But, help is at hand as Shelley Aspden, Oscars Pet Behaviourist and Nutritional advisor is here to offer some life-stage dietary advice for your companion.

Life-stage 1: Weaning

Weaning your puppy is the first stage of introducing your dog onto a healthy diet and regular feeding regime.  Traditional weaning starts from 2 weeks old and by 4 weeks old your puppy should be fully weaned on to dog food.  During lactation a good breeder will be feeding the bitch on a puppy food to help body cope with the stress of feeding her litter.  This also helps puppies wean onto the puppy food as they are familiar with the diet.  Your puppy may struggle to crunch dry food so it is advisable to add water and make the food into a gruel so your puppy can lap the food.  Around the age 6 weeks your puppy will be fully weaned and can be introduced to a feeding rate.

Life-stage 2: Puppy /Junior

Most pet owners are not involved in the weaning stage, as puppies are only re-homed between 6-8 weeks old.  By this time your puppy will be on a set feeding regime with 3-4 meals per day.  Your dog during the puppy/junior phase has very specific nutritional demands and is important they are met by feeding the correct life-stage food.

A puppy requires good quality nutrients and in particular requires higher level of energy, protein and vitamins and minerals for growth and maintenance.  If your puppy does not receive these essential daily requirements, you may see a slower growth rate and your dog's health may be compromised.

A good quality protein is required for muscle development and a healthy digestive system.  It is therefore essential that your puppy is not fed an adult diet before it has reached maturity because the protein level will be lower in an adult diet than in a puppy/junior diet.

Calcium is another important daily nutrient.  A growing puppy needs calcium for good bone growth and development.  Your puppy needs a correct balance of calcium and phosphorus (2:1) for the correct development of the skeletal system.  Without this correct balance, health conditions such as calcium deficiency or hip dysplasia can occur. Breeds of dogs, such as German Shepherds and Labradors have foods that specifically designed design for breeds of this size.  These diets will often contain glucosamine for healthy bone growth and cartilage development.

Life-stage 3: Adulthood

The breed and size of your dog, will dictate when your pet will mature and be ready to move on to an adult diet.  Smaller breeds will mature a lot earlier than large breeds of dogs.

During adulthood an adult dog requires a high energy content for its daily activity demands.  A medium protein content in an adult diet is needed for a healthy body and high vitamins and minerals to help the body repair from injury or illness.

During this life-stage it is recommended that you feed your dog at least 2 meals per day.  This helps to give your dog an even supply of blood sugars throughout the day, which in turn helps to reduce mood swings and the potential development of diabetes.

At this stage of life, adult dogs can be susceptible to skin allergies and digestive problems.  Feeding your dog a diet which has a single source protein is vital to define any allergies to a specific protein source. Foods which are gluten free or wheat gluten free, with a rice or potato base will help avoid any intolerance to cereals gluten.

Life-stage 4:  Senior dog

As your dog approaches this time of life, you will see signs of aging.  Just like the stage of adulthood, different dog breeds and will reach senior stage at different ages.

During the senior age of life your dog will become less active and will therefore require a lower concentration of protein and feeding a good quality source will help with digestion and palatability.  At this time of life your dog's immune system will lower and will become more susceptible to illness and disease.  Senior diets will contain a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals to combat illness, disease and help prevent heart disease and cancer.  The correct balance of calcium to phosphorous (2:1) will help to prevent any kidney or liver problems.

Some senior diets will contain a supplement called glucosamine.  This will help to lubricate the joint cartilage and help in the management of arthritis and stiff joints.  During the senior time of life it is best to feed your dog 2 to 3 times a day.  This will provide your dog with an even supply of blood sugar and it will also help to lessen the stress placed on the digestive system.

At Oscars we understand the importance of feeding your puppy, adult dog, or senior dog the correct diet for each life-stage. We have briefly covered the 4 life-stages of your dog in this article, however if you would like more information about this subject or the foods and services that Oscar Pet Foods provide, we can be contacted on 0800 195 8000 or email direct@oscars.co.uk.

© Shelley Aspden BSc (Hons)
Oscar Pet Foods Pet Behaviour Counsellor


The FREE Oscar Pet Behaviour service has helped hundreds (if not thousands over the years) of animals with help from our team including Shelley Aspden BSc Hons Animal Behaviour & Welfare who is waiting to hear from you.  


To contact Sally Callaghan, your local Oscar Advisor, call 01767 310275 or click the image to the left for further details.


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