Many dog owners should take the time and effort to choose the right food for their canine companions. Some do not realize how the right diet will keep them healthy and free from certain illnesses. Unfortunately, many do not realize that their pooches will have different dietary needs at various stages of their lives. Much like humans, puppies will need more of specific nutrients than adults.
When Should You Change Your Dog’s Food?
In order to guide dog owners in choosing the right food for their pets, they can use its life stage as a guide. It is during these transitions that they should discuss diet and nutrition with their vet, and possibly switch to a more appropriate type.
Dog foods are labeled to guide pet owners in finding the right one to feed their pet. If you have a puppy at home, reach for a product that has been rated as “growth” because this type of food is specially prepared for kittens and puppies according to AAFCO or Association of American Feed Control Officials.
At this stage, puppies and kitties are still growing rapidly, which is why they need higher levels of protein and more calories in order to meet growth charts. If these nutritional requirements are not met through their diet, your pet might suffer from stunted growth or worse, may get sick.
Once your pet reaches the adult life stage, it is vital to talk with the vet to discuss changes in the dog’s diet. Unfortunately, many pet dogs and cats suffer from obesity and other nutritional diseases. This is the result of the wrong diet. For example, if you have an adult cat or dog, specifically one that does not get a lot of exercise or lead a sedentary lifestyle, it will end up being obese if you keep giving it food that has been designed for puppies and kittens. Therefore, it is good to look for dog food that has been labeled as “adult maintenance” by the AAFCO.
Just like humans, older pets start to get sicker or have more medical problems as they grow old. Having the right diet is important to keep them at the top of health. For example, senior dogs that suffer from mobility problems might be recommended by the vet to choose foods containing fatty acids like DHA and EPA and glucosamine. In some cases, the right pet food might actually help manage symptoms of a disease or medical condition like heart disease and chronic kidney disease. There is no specific food rating for this life stage, so it is good to go for senior maintenance pet food for your pooch. You may also discuss the specifics of your pet’s nutritional needs and deficiencies with your vet.
In some cases, you might still need to shift your pet’s food because of other factors. Pay attention to these 5 signs that signal you that it is time to change its food.
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Humans will know that chronic diarrhea and vomiting is not a good sign. When it comes to your pet, these symptoms will signal you that its diet is not appropriate. You do not want to wait until your dog’s stool becomes watery. In fact, they should be anything but loose. Having cases of loose stool for a long time may end up with future health issues or at least make your pet uncomfortable.
Moreover, it might signal that the food has not been digested properly. Your dog might resort to eating grass and other plants to reduce stomach aches.
Dogs can also suffer from allergies, which manifest as dry and itchy skin. They can be allergic to a lot of possible things like wheat, corn or soy, and if your dog is itching too much, you can consult with your vet to come up with a new diet for your pooch.
Cannot Maintain the Weight
Having a healthy weight will affect your dog’s health and make it live longer and happier. Anything over or below this weight will signal a problem. Food may affect each dog differently, so before considering making a change, it is good to talk to the vet first. Your pet might end up gaining a lot of weight or end up underweight. Issues with controlling dog’s weight is a sign that you should contact your vet.
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In many cases, pets might suffer malnutrition or the lack of enough nutrition due to the low quality of dog food. This will manifest in your dog being lethargic and tired all the time because it is not getting all the energy it needs from the food it is eating. It might be due to a medical condition, but it might also be something as simple as a diet change, so going to the vet will rule out any illness or signal a need to change what you are feeding it.
In humans, poor nutrition manifests in dry skin whereas, in dogs, it will make its coat look dull. The quality of the food and how your pet’s body processes it will also affect how its fur looks. Regardless of whether it is accompanied by itchiness or not, this is a very clear sign that your pooch’s diet is insufficient and improper. Trying out various types of food or avoiding some might be the solution to giving it proper nutrition and helping it look better.
Your pet’s food is the main source of its nutrition, and it will determine whether it is healthy or not. It will also manifest in its weight, its behavior, bodily functions, and even its looks. Because of the various dietary needs of a dog during the different life stages, sticking to just one type of dog food is the worst idea. To know whether you are giving your pet the right nutrition at all times, it is advisable to discuss its diet with its vet. Taking the time and effort to feed your dog right will ensure great health and long life, the best gifts a pet owner can give its canine companion.
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- Cailin R. Heinze, VMD, Organic Pet Foods: Optimal Health or Overhyped?, Clinical Nutrition Service
- The Vegan Dog-Food Guide: Tips for Feeding Your Canine Friends, PETA