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We want you to feel confident in choosing the best dog food throughout your dog's life. To help you do that, whether you have a puppy, adult dog, or senior dog, we brought together Dogly Nutrition Advocates, all certified canine nutritionists, for five step-by-step guides to help you feed your individual dog the best diet possible.
Check out each guide directly above or you can see all of the guides in the Basic Nutrition Channel here on Dogly as well as additional guides on needed nutrients for your dog, activities to improve your dog's diet, or you can ask questions in the Community discussion.
Let's get into a short overview of each guide below...
Puppies, adolescents, adult dogs and senior dogs all have different nutritional requirements. That's why it's important to feed your dog a food that's appropriate for his or her stage of life. For example, puppies need more calories than adult dogs because they're growing. Similarly, senior dogs may need fewer calories than they did when they were younger, as they tend to be less active.
The best way to ensure your dog is getting the right nutrition at each life stage is to feed your dog a diet that's specifically designed for his/her life stage. Puppy food, for example, is typically higher in calories and nutrients than adult dog food. Senior dog food, on the other hand, is typically lower in calories and higher in fiber to help older dogs maintain a healthy weight.
This guide from canine nutritionist and Dogly Nutrition Advocate Alicia Boemi helps you understand why feeding your puppy, adult dog, and senior dog a food appropriate for their age is important and how to know which dog food is right for your dog's life stage. Go to this guide at the link above or continue to the overview of the next guide below.
Puppies need a lot of energy to grow and develop, which is why they require more calories than adult dogs from typical dog food. Puppies also have certain nutritional requirements that differ from adult dogs. For example, puppies need more protein than adult dogs because they're growing new muscle tissue. Puppies also need higher levels of essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, to support their rapidly growing bones.
When selecting a food for your puppy, be sure to look on the dog food label to see that it's age-appropriate and made with high-quality ingredients. Doing so will help ensure your puppy gets the nutrition he or she needs to grow and develop into a healthy adult dog.
Go directly to this step-by-step guide here to set your puppy up for good health and nutrition from the beginning of his/her life with you. Or continue on to the overview of life stage feeding for adult dogs below.
Adult dogs need a different balance of nutrients than puppies and senior dogs do for a healthy diet. For example, adult dogs generally need less protein than puppies because they're no longer growing new muscle tissue. On the other hand, adult dogs need more fiber than puppies and senior dogs because fiber aids in digestive health.
We've broken down how to find the best dog foods for your adult dog into two guides. The first guide linked here teaches you which nutrients and how much of each nutrient your adult dog needs from dog food. Canine nutritionist and Dogly Nutrition Advocate Alicia Boemi goes into three key nutrients your adult dog needs from dog food (which could be dry dog food, canned food, wet food, fresh food, or a raw diet).
This step-by-step guide explains how to feed each nutrient to your adult dog in a well-balanced diet. It also focuses on weight gain and weight management because this is the time in a dog's life that's very easy to gain weight - which isn't good for a variety of reasons for your dog!
In this guide you'll also learn how to calculate how many calories your dog needs and how much dog food that means to feed your dog for his/her best weight. Check it out at the link here or continue to the next guide where we'll get into specific dog foods for your adult dog.
As dog owners, one of the best things we can do for our dogs is to make sure the dog food we are feeding whether that's wet dog food, dry food, fresh food, or raw food is fulfilling all of the nutritional needs of our dogs. So how do we do that?
A complete and balanced dog food recipe is also shared with you in this guide so you can learn how to start home-cooking for your dog if you'd like. I promise it's not as intimidating as it sounds! If you can cook for yourself, you can cook for your dog!
The last guide in this "feeding for different life stages" series is for the older dogs among us. This is super important as we all want to make sure we're feeding the best dog food we can to our senior dogs to give them the best life possible as they age into their golden years.
The best way to think about a senior dog's nutritional needs is that they are very similar to that of a human's nutritional needs as we age. Just like people, as dogs age their metabolism slows down and they start to lose muscle mass. This is why it's so important to make sure we're feeding our senior dogs the best food we can to help them maintain their health and quality of life as they age.
Obviously, all of these suggestions are for a healthy senior dog. If your dog has food allergies or needs to be on a special type of dog food for health reasons, please consult with your veterinarian and a canine nutritionist to come up with the best nutrition plan or recipe for your dog.
Everyone here at Dogly is also always happy to help if you'd like to ask any questions in the Community discussion here in the Basic Nutrition Channel on Dogly or work with any Nutrition Advocates 1-on-1 here.
Once you've gone through all of these step-by-step guides on life stages dog food for puppies, adult dogs, and senior dogs, you should have a really good understanding of how to choose the best dog food for your pup throughout your life together!
To keep expanding your nutritional knowledge for your dog, continue on in the Basic Nutrition Channel to the step-by-step guides from canine nutritionists in Need Nutrients. You'll learn how to tell if your dog is missing any important nutrients in his/her dog food and how to feed protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals, and fats and fatty acids to your dog.
If you have any questions, you can also ask them in the Basic Nutrition Channel in the Community discussion. Or, if you ever need more personalized help, we would be happy to help you find the right Dogly Nutrition Advocate who would be best to help you and your dog.
DISCLAIMER: The content of this website and community is based on the research, expertise, and views of each respective author. Information here is not intended to replace your one-on-one relationship with your veterinarian, but as a sharing of information and knowledge to help arm dog parents to make more informed choices. We encourage you to make health care decisions based on your research and in partnership with your vet. In cases of distress, medical issues, or emergency, always consult your veterinarian.