Dog food: how to choose a food for a puppy, adult dog and senior?
When deciding on a pet (usually a dog or a cat), we take on numerous obligations resulting not only from keeping them and ensuring appropriate conditions for a good life, but we also have to take into account considerable financial expenses.
Everywhere in the world, responsible pet ownership is considered a luxury that not everyone can afford.
More and more keepers treat their pets responsibly, which should undoubtedly be happy, because the way of thinking is also changing, and hence specific actions.
The dog is no longer a mascot, very desirable when it is healthy, young and full of vitality.
In old age, when it starts to feel unwell and more often has various diseases, it is less often treated as an "undesirable product", which should certainly please.
Responsible treatment of animals manifests itself on many levels related to their maintenance, ranging from proper nutrition through care, complete prevention and proper treatment, when necessary, ending.
The right one also plays a huge role balanced nutrition, which is a kind of "investment for the future " that guarantees a longer and better life for our pet.
It ensures the maintenance of the proper condition of the body and also plays a preventive role in the case of many common diseases.
In this article, I will try to introduce you to the knowledge of food, maintenance diets and draw your attention to the basic, though perhaps a bit forgotten facts.
- What is living karma?
- Dog food: which one to choose?
- Puppy food
- Adult dog food
- Finished food dosage
- Senior dog food
- Specific nutritional needs
What is living karma?What is living karma?
Colloquial food is a balanced food intended for a given group of healthy animals not burdened with any diseases.
Life karma is the type of nutrition that we constantly provide to our ward, supplementing everything with constantly available clean drinking water.
For some dog owners, this method of feeding may seem monotonous and too one-sided, which of course does not mean the risk of nutritional deficiencies, especially in the long term.
Remember that the feed should be balanced, which means it is more or less complete in terms of composition.
Therefore, it contains all the necessary ingredients, elements, vitamins needed by the body for a healthy life, proper functioning and harmonious growth, taking into account the daily needs of animals (dogs- protein 20-40%, fats , carbohydrates and mineral salts).
It is obvious that it must be adapted to a given, specific group of animals, taking into account:
- age (young-growing, adult and senior dogs),
- physiological state (e.g. pregnant and lactating bitches),
- physical activity (hard-working dogs).
Sometimes some manufacturers bring to the market as well food dedicated to specific breeds of dogs (e.g. for Yorkshire Terriers, Dachshunds or German Shepherds) justifying this with the special nutritional needs of these dogs.
Household food are the most popular and probably the most widespread way to provide an animal with everything it needs in terms of nutrition, and their recipes are developed by specialists, veterinary nutritionists.
It also often guarantees the stability of the composition, which in many cases seems to be a fundamental issue.
Especially in sensitive individuals, changing the dog's food may result in gastrointestinal disorders and diarrhea, hence the certainty that when buying a given food, we constantly decide on the same product is important.
Household food are intended, as I mentioned, for healthy animals, not burdened with a specific disease, and therefore for the vast majority of our pets.
Their advantage is also ease of administration limited to pouring a given food into the bowl, low feeding time, not related to preparing a meal and undoubtedly the price acceptable to the vast majority of owners (large price range of various dog foods).
These foods come in form dry and wet which additionally creates a wide range of choices and satisfy even the most demanding dogs.
Everyone will find "something for themselves " in a wide range of products available on the market.
The quality of veterinary feeds of good, reputable production companies is evidenced by the fact that plants producing these feeds and the semi-finished products used in them must meet exorbitant standards comparable to those applicable in the production of food intended for humans.
They use standards developed by low-authority organizations such as. FEDIAF.
So it is not possible to make food from ingredients that are unsuitable for any use, due to the quality of what some opponents claim ready-made feed, "industrial ".
Complicated technological processes used in feed factories ensure not only high quality, but also microbiological and health safety.
This gives the animal keepers certainty that by using proven dog food it will not infect their pet with anything bad.
What is extremely important in most cases, unless additionally recommended by a veterinarian, there is no need for additional supplement with mineral and vitamin preparations when feeding only with these feeds.
These products are complete in terms of composition and meet all the needs of a given age group of animals.
This is confirmed by numerous studies carried out on a large target group of animals that are fed a given food for a longer period of time, which allows us to state beyond any doubt the absolute safety of these products.
And the most important thing is to be sure that by choosing balanced food from a good company, we provide the best method of nutrition at an affordable price, while saving our time.
Dog food: which one to choose?Life karma: which one to choose?
There is no one "universal " subsistence karma intended for everyone because "something good for everyone " is not worth much.
This is because dogs do not belong to one group and their nutritional needs change significantly depending on, for example, the phase of life, activity or physiological state.
Obviously, the nutritional needs will be different puppy, other for adult dog and still others senior dog, although it is still the same individual (dog) despite the fact that it is subject to the aging process.
Karma will differ not only in the content of the main ingredients such as protein, carbohydrates if fats but also in smaller amounts minerals if vitamins.
In the short term, it may not matter that much, because, for example, nothing bad will happen when a puppy eats a whole bowl of food intended for his older friend, with whom he lives under one roof.
However, if we were to constantly, for a long time, give to a young growing dog adult dog food it may have a negative impact on his health and condition. Hence, we should always choose food for a given age group.
The more that the composition of such food is developed by specialists in the field of animal nutrition.
Choosing a specific company is less important, the most important thing is to always feed a product intended for a specific age group and sometimes even race.
Prepared dog food due to the technological process, we can divide them into:
- moist (wet).
Dry foods are characterized by:
- low humidity of 6-10%,
- fat content of 7-20%,
- protein content 16-30%,
- carbohydrate content 41-70%,
- metabolic energy in the order of 2800-4050 kcal / kg dry weight.
Dry foods therefore show relatively high calorific value with small volume and high digestibility.
The consequence of eating such food will be small in volume and tight stools but also risk of overfeeding when feeding large amounts of food.
Wet foods for a dog, in turn, have:
- humidity around 75%,
- they contain about 5-8% fat,
- contain 7-13% of protein,
- 4-13% carbohydrates,
- have a calorific value of 875-1250 kcal / kg dry weight.
The foods are moist more tasty but less balanced.
They also deteriorate faster especially at high temperatures (in summer).
They are less caloric that's why you need to give more of them, which will translate into more stools.
Otherwise they are also a more expensive way of feeding which undoubtedly matters to animal keepers.
We also distinguish:
- economic feeds (they satisfy the needs of the organism at the lowest possible price, but at the same time meeting the quality features),
- basic feeds,
- premium feeds (products with individual targeted action),
- superpremium feed (high-end products, exclusive).
An extremely important issue when using maintenance foods is the assessment of the caregiver himself, who should ask himself whether the food consumed is appropriate for his pet.
At the same time, he should pay attention to the well-formed, normal amount of stool, healthy, shiny coat, maintaining an appropriate body weight or vitality of the animal and the willingness to eat food.
To do this in a reasonably reliable way, we should give karma through minimum two months.
Let us remember that contemporary ready-made food for dogs they are not made of the "worst, cheapest and not compliant" semi-finished products and their quality must meet certain standards and criteria.
Therefore, these products are not harmful, as the supporters of "natural nutrition " claim, although they do not resemble the natural food eaten by dogs in the past, or the BARF diet used by some.
Instead, they are a kind of solution to the needs of busy dog handlers.
Puppy foodPuppy food
Young, intensively growing organisms of puppies show a very high food demand, which unfortunately does not go hand in hand with the efficiency of their digestive tracts.
No one is surprised by the fact that diarrhea and other digestive system disorders are more frequent in our young children.
Hence complete food for a puppy should feature high digestibility and constancy of composition which prevents possible disturbances in the digestive system and particularly dangerous diarrhea that may dehydrate.
Each puppy, regardless of breed, is more or less mobile and willing to play.
As he moves more, he needs more energy to meet his basic needs.
Generally, a puppy's energy requirement is about twice that of an adult.
Balanced nutrition is also about not providing too much energy, which will manifest itself excessive body weight and bone and joint problems in the near future and growth disorders.
The method and frequency of feeding food is also extremely important.
So we feed puppies at regular intervals up to the age of half a year, at least 3-4 times a day.
Fixed feeding hours and the place where the food is served provide a sense of security for the dog, and a small amount of food given during a single meal does not burden the digestive system too much.
It is also important to have constant access to clean, fresh, frequently changed water.Access to water is extremely important
Dry foods contain only 8-10% water in its mass hence the animal eating it must drink more.
The puppy grows and changes day by day, so with the naked eye you can see significant differences in their size depending on the breed of the dog.
Hence dog food will vary considerably depending on the adult dog's target weight.
So the producers developed feeds for:
- puppies of large breeds,
- fast growing,
- medium-sized dogs,
- small dogs.
Importantly, puppies of small breeds should be fed food intended for juniors up to the age of about 12 months, when somatic growth ends on average.
Twice as long (up to 18-24 months) we give Junior food for puppies of large and molossess breeds, which become adult dogs on average a year later.
These foods differ in many parameters, including content calcium and phosphorus.
IN puppy food it is large breeds less energy and calcium.
It is the smaller amount of energy that aims to slightly reduce the growth rate and thus "spread the growth over time ".
Thanks to this technological treatment, we reduce the risk of bone and joint disorders that occur when the rapid increase in body weight and muscles is not accompanied by an equally rapid growth of the skeletal system.
Remember that excess calcium in the diet can also translate into occurrences orthopedic diseases therefore it is dangerous.
Also, be careful about supplementing extra calcium in dogs fed a balanced diet.
We have different food intended for very young puppies so these until weaned or from weaning to maturity.
Food for growing dogs are enriched with various substances influencing the proper development of the organism.
They are even necessary unsaturated fatty acids from the family n-3 and their metabolites (EPA acids and DHA) if pro and prebiotics regulating and stimulating the development of the digestive system.
There is a lot of household food for puppies on the market, hence the need to try on a given individual what type of food he will be willing to eat.
There is no need to convince anyone that the basic condition that a given karma must fulfill is deliciousness for our pet.
Examples of maintenance foods for growing animals:
- Royal Canin junior,
- Royal Canin Starter mother and babydog,
- Royal Canin Junior Large Dog,
- Eukanuba Puppy 1-24 months large breed,
- Arion original puppy,
- Brit Premium puppies,
- Purina pro Plan medium puppy,
- Bosch junior,
- and many others.
Adult dog foodAdult dog food
Each puppy will sooner or later become an adult, which is associated with a change in nutritional requirements for basic nutrients.
To ensure an optimal body shape and provide all the necessary nutrients (proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals), you need a properly balanced food that ensures nutritional balance.
The consistency of the food (dry or wet), which results from the individual preferences of a given individual, does not matter.
What is important, however, is the quality and composition appropriate to the age of the animal.
Depending on the size of the dog (large, small, medium-sized breeds), the producers have developed feeds that differ in their composition individually tailored to the specific needs of a particular breed.
And so, for example, smaller races (e.g. West Highland White Terrier, or Yorkshire Terrier), often more active, they need more energy, which they use for movement, which is also due to "faster metabolism ".
Large, molossian dog breeds (e.g. Bernardine, Great Dane, German Shepherd, Rottweiler) may show a slower metabolism with a greater appetite at the same time, which may translate into possible obesity in the dog.
They also require the addition of substances that protect the bones and joints, i.e. a slightly different addition of vitamins and minerals.
On the market, we have very specific feeds tailored to the specific needs of a given breed of dog, which differ in composition, but also in a specially selected size of crisps so that they are eagerly eaten.
As an example, let's use the karma created specifically for the race that is popular in our country german shepherd.
These foods are not universal food for large breed dogs, but have been enriched with specific ingredients supporting the health of this particular breed.
One of them is taurine, positively influencing and improving the work of the heart.
Sodium polyphosphate present in food for German Shepherds, it binds calcium present in saliva, which has a preventive effect in the process of tartar formation, to which sheepdogs are particularly exposed.
With age, their ability to digest nutrients also decreases, hence these foods are better, high digestibility.
They also do not contain a large amount of fat so as not to expose the dog to pancreatic insufficiency and any inconvenience associated with it.
This, of course, is only an example of feed adapted to a specific breed and its energy needs, and taking into account specific potential health problems.
A feed dedicated specifically to a given breed will not differ significantly in composition from other feeds for similar animals.
So it is not a mistake to feed the aforementioned shepherd dog with other food for large breeds, adult dogs.
It is obvious that the food for the dachshund, Yorkshire terrier, Maltese will be completely different in composition, although they belong to the same species as the aforementioned sheepdog.
We cannot forget about specialized maintenance foods for animals with special nutritional needs, such as adult animals, e.g. food for sterilized animals, food for dogs and cats with food allergies, etc.
They will vary in nutrient content depending on the adult dog's physiological condition (e.g. fat), thus ensuring the maintenance of the best condition and preventing overweight and obesity.
So we can see how huge diversity can be observed among the feeds of only one producer and that it is best to choose food specifically adapted to a given breed, and in the absence of it, as close to it as possible.
Finished food dosageFinished food dosage
I would also like to point out the relevant ones finished food dosage.
The tables on the packaging, taking into account the animal's body weight and sometimes its activity, turn out to be helpful:
The given dose is most often a daily dose, which, of course, can be divided into several administrations (morning and evening).
These are statistically developed tables treating the dog as an "average" representative of a given breed, therefore we do not have to strictly follow the recommendations contained therein.
They are of course extremely helpful and most of the time right, but sometimes they need a little modification.
Hence, a change in the amount of feed given is in some cases permissible.
Adult dog food we should serve until about 6-7 years of age (depending on the breed) replacing it slowly with a specific one food for seniors.
Examples of maintenance foods for adult dogs from different companies:
- Royal Canin Adult,
- Arion Adult Maitenance,
- Brit Premium Adult Large,
- Purina Friskies,
- Eukanuba Adult,
- Hills mature adult,
- and many others.
Senior dog foodFood for the senior
Every living organism, over time, undergoes an inexorable aging process, which of course changes the nutritional needs of the body and requires our intervention in modifying the feed.
With age, the need for certain nutrients increases, while others should be limited to ensure the best nutrition in this last stage of life.
What should it be like in general food for older dogs?
Should be less caloric, because metabolism slows down with age and providing more calories will certainly translate into obesity, which will further worsen the animal's health.
We should remember about the serious consequences associated with a significant load on the joints, spine, diabetes or cancer processes that are more common in obese animals.
The process of losing weight is also not easy for seniors, so be careful about the amount of calories supplied so that you do not have problems later.
With age, the efficiency of all organs decreases and the immune system works worse, therefore we should not only not overload them, but also support their work through proper nutrition.
We can get it by right delivering vitamins and trace elements, in which they are usually rich Household food for seniors.
The risk of urinary tract diseases also increases, hence the possibility of delivering larger amounts of acids omega 3 and phosphorus limitation which is a silent killer of kidneys in case of their failure.
Older animal feeds, as a rule, contain more easily digestible protein and lysine if leucine that is, specific amino acids.
Degenerative processes in the joints are inherent in the aging process, hence the enrichment of food with substances supporting the functioning of these anatomical structures (glucosamine, chondroitin, New Zealand mussels extract) seems to be the most appropriate move.
In older animals, intestinal peristalsis slows down, hence the food should be characterized by high digestibility and may contain a bit more fibrin which prevents even constipation.
The above-mentioned features of the food for seniors, of course, describe in a general way the main assumptions that the food for our elderly people should meet, and individual maintenance foods may differ slightly from each other.
The progressive aging process requires us to modify the frequency of feeding the food so as not to overload the digestive tract with too much, a single dose of food.
Therefore, it is better to give several smaller meals than one large one, even if the animal has been used to this way of feeding so far.
As a reminder, we consider dogs over the age of senior to be seniors 7-8 (9) years depending on the breed.
Examples of food for seniors:
- Brit Care Senior,
- Royal Canin Urban Life Senior,
- Arion Friends Senior,
- Purina DogChow Senior,
- Purina ProPlan Senior,
- Acana Senior All Breeds,
- Eukanuba Mature and Senior.
Specific nutritional needsA diet that is suitable for a nursing bitch
Household food they will also take into account the specific energy needs of individual groups of dogs, taking into account their physiological status or intensively performed work.
Such dog food will sometimes be significantly different from the usual living karma for the same species.
Let them serve us as an example intensive working dogs if brood nursing bitches.
It is clear that these groups require more calories associated with significantly greater loss of calories due to muscle work or the production and excretion of milk.
In the case of lactating bitches, this is a temporary state and should be fed with an increased energy requirement only during lactation.
Similarly, hard-working dogs, e.g. racing participants should receive calorically modified feed during the "duration of exercise ".
When they stop intensive training, especially for a long time, leaving the current nutrition inadequate to exercise may result in obesity.
Therefore, we should be careful and apply the feeding principle adapted to the needs of a given individual.
SummaryHow to feed your dog?
The nutritional needs of our dogs are well understood, which is reflected in specially composed and adapted to a given group of animals household foods.
Despite a group of criticizing opponents industrial feed and accusing them of a high degree of processing and "chemical composition", they seem to be a good way to provide the animal with all its nutritional needs.
They also have a number of other obvious advantages, such as ease of administration or the overall cost of the nutrition.
The consistency of the feed composition is also important.
And most of all, they guarantee that the owner who does not have specialist dietary knowledge can provide his ward with optimal nutrition in the best possible way, which translates into a life in better health and greater comfort for a longer period of time.
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