As your puppy matures into a happy, healthy dog, you will need to adjust his diet at various stages of his life. If you are raising a litter of puppies, you will need to educate yourself on what needs to be done to wean the puppies away from relying upon their mother’s milk. They will need to start eating some dry food mixed with warm water or milk replacer. Puppies usually start the weaning process at 3 or 4 weeks and are completely weaned at 7 or 8 weeks.
It is a good idea to wean the puppies with the same brand of puppy food you plan to feed them throughout their growth period so they won’t need to go through diet changes unless food allergies or other complications arise. Communicate frequently with your vet so you can get all of your questions answered and know that you are doing right by the puppies.
Puppies need a lot of protein so select a puppy food that contains from 25 to 30% protein. Your vet will help you determine how much to feed your puppy and number of feeding times per day. The quantity and frequency of feeding will vary depending upon the expected growth of your puppy. For example large breed dogs grow a lot so their quantities may need to be changed. Be sure not to overfeed, especially the large breeds as growing too fast can cause damage to their joints.
Female dogs in the pregnancy stage need not be fed a full stomach since it may cause some discomfort to the animal. However, the pregnant animal and the nursing animal need a special type of food items that deliver a balanced type of nutrition with proper supplementation of vitamins and minerals.
The nursing mother with puppies needs to be fed with enough calcium to prevent any calcium based deficiency in the puppies.
What to Feed Your Adult Dog
When your puppy should be transitioned to adult dog food is mostly determined by the breed size. For example small breeds 20 pounds or less full grown should be transitioned between the ages of 9 and 12 months, while a medium sized dog between 20 and 50 pounds full grown, should be transitioned at 12 to 14 months. For large breeds they may need to stay on the puppy food longer as it takes them longer to reach full growth. Usually a large breed over 50 pounds will be transitioned to adult food between the ages of 12 and 24 months. Be sure you consult with your vet before transitioning your pet to adult food as he or she will know whether your has reached full growth and what food and how much to feed your adult puppy.
Adult dogs will require different amounts of protein depending upon their activity level and extremes in weather. A dog that is very inactive and just lays around the house all day will only need about 10% protein whereas an adult dog that is very active every day could need as much as 40%. If your dog is not sedentary but not an extremely active dog on a daily basis then the protein requirement will be at about 20%.
What to Feed Your Senior Dog
Elder dogs need restricted protein but the protein needs to be easily digestible and easily assimilated in the body. The diet schedule should have ample supply of water for them. Recent studies have concluded that older dogs still has the same protein requirement as the adult dog and that excess protein levels do not contribute to kidney failure. Be sure to feed your senior dog the correct amount of highly digestible protein. Your vet will be able to advise you which food is the best for your senior dog and how much to feed him.
Senior dogs need to consume less calories due to reduced activity level and a slower metabolism. It is most important to keep your senior dog at an optimum weight to cause less wear and tear on his joints.