When it comes to dog food, knowing which options to choose can be pretty tricky. There are canned foods, pouches and patés, dry kibble and raw. Then you have complete diets or complementary. Which brands are the healthiest? Is expensive always better?
Every dog is different and the food your friend’s give their dogs may not be best suited to your dog. Your dog’s age and health are also important factors when it comes to choosing dog food.
At this early stage of growth and development, puppies need extra calcium to prevent stunted growth and deformities. Calcium is also vital to support them through the teething phase, which occurs between 4 and 7 months of age.
Protein and fats are also important at this young age to support the growth of their muscles and tendons. Fats are converted into a usable energy source, which a growing puppy needs plenty of. Most pre-made puppy diets have additional calcium, protein and fats, so you do not need to worry that they are not getting enough. If you choose a complementary food, you will need to add extra. This might mean feeding a complementary dry food and mixing a small amount of wet food into the meal as well.
Once a dog reaches the age of 18 months they no longer need as much calcium, protein or fats as they did when they were a puppy. They have reached their adult height and their bones and muscles should be fully developed. An adult dog’s nutritional needs are about maintaining a healthy weight and supporting their digestive, immune and central nervous systems.
Protein, carbohydrates and fats are still important, as are fibre, potassium, phosphorus, riboflavin and vitamins A, B1, B6, B12 and K.
If you are feeding a complementary dog food, you can supplement your dog’s diet with leafy greens like kale and spinach, broccoli, carrots and sweet potato. Apple, banana and pear are good sources of vitamins and potassium. For riboflavin and other essential nutrients one egg per week cracked into their food is a great option. You can also give them the egg shell which is a good source of calcium.
The most important thing to know about your elderly dog is that he needs fewer calories in his diet. Older dogs do not need as much exercise and therefore need fewer calories for their body to function. However, they need more protein to maintain their muscle mass. Senior dog food tends to avoid potato as it can be harder to digest than rice and meat.
Supplementing omega 3 fatty acids into an elderly dog’s diet is highly recommended as this helps to slow cognitive decline. Omega 3 is naturally occurring in fish or you can purchase omega 3 capsules or oil to add to your dog’s meals.
If your elderly dog starts to show less interest in his meals, it may be because his sense of taste is fading. Try adding a few small pieces of cooked chicken to his food to entice him.