Puppy vs Adult Dog – Nutritional Requirements
During the early growth phase a puppy requires a relatively larger and frequent portion of food. At 6 to 8 weeks the need is four to six meals averagely. By 6 months, when they achieve almost 75% of their adult size, the need for frequent meals decreases.
Good quality puppy food with the appropriate amount of proteins and calcium food has several advantages over adult dog food. Any nutritional imbalances might lead to severe and even irreversible health.The growth period of a dog is approximately the first 8 to 10 months and post 12 months the diet can be further switched to an adult one.
Giant breed dogs (Good examples of these giant breeds are Labrador, Golden Retriever and German Shepherds) typically weighing more than 23 kgs as an adult, are susceptible to a multitude of growth and weight related abnormalities such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia or fractures, if not fed properly during the critical growth period. To avoid these abnormalities following a formulated diet with is imperative for larger breed puppies.
Majority of puppies lose the ability to digest milk sugar (lactose) due to the absence of the enzyme lactase post-weaning. While small amounts may be tolerated, feeding milk is not a sensible option for dogs as it could lead to various gastrointestinal problems because of improper digestion.
Dietary requirements vary over the lifetime of any animal or being. Similarly, older dogs, especially those over 7 years of age, will benefit from a diet formulated towards their needs. In the senior years, dogs’ metabolism slows down and he’s less active, needing fewer calories, higher protein, lower sodium, and fewer carbohydrates.
Many also contain ingredients such as prebiotics or probiotics to maintain healthy intestinal microbial balance, increased omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants to combat inflammation and help in increased cellular survival. Glucosamine to promote joint health, and medium-chain triglycerides to help slow down changes to the brain for better transmission of signals is commonly added to senior diets.
Nutritional Needs For Different Breeds of Dogs
Each pet is different and their nutritional requirements differ based on age, size and more importantly the breed. It’s not something we put a lot of thought into, but even the shape of the kibble is important when considering a feed. Smaller shaped kibbles are easier to eat for smaller breeds and pets with brachycephalic (short/small skull) jaws. Similarly larger dogs benefit from a bigger, crunchier kibble.
Tailor made recipes also target breed-specific health conditions such as cardiac function, skin conditions and weight control depending upon the skeleton structure which varies with each breed.
Alternatively, there are pets with mesocephalic jaws (medium skull) who encounter genetic-based dental problems. Breeds such as West Highland White Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers, Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Poodles, Jack Russell Terriers, Maine Coons, and Ragdolls may encounter these genetic problems. These pets tend to do well with a food that has a dental benefit such as specified kibble shape and calcium chelators further helping in the mineralization of the teeth. Breeds specific foods also alleviate problems such as fussy appetites, urinary health, joint and heart support solutions by providing preventative nutrition.