Haven’t Changed Your Dog’s Diet in a While? She Might Be Missing Key Nutrients

Written by on June 21, 2019 in Animals and Pets, Conscious Living with 0 Comments

By Dr. Laura Duclos

Think about the type of food you regularly ate as a teen. Can you still put away a large pizza in one sitting without feeling sick or gaining a few pounds? Chances are strong that if you reverted to your old diet, your health would tank.

The same is true for dogs, but most pet parents never think of their four-legged friends' diets from that perspective. Instead, owners continue to feed their pets the same kind and quantity of food for life. Your dog seems to love the kibble, and the price is right, so why rock the doghouse

Here’s a reason to make a food fuss: Pooches need the right nutrients to meet their needs during distinct life stages, for varying activity levels, and in different seasons. Pet parents should evaluate and plan Rover's diet based on where he is life — not how eagerly he inhales his dinner.

Pooch Nutrition in a Nutshell

Each phase of life puts new stressors on a dog's body, necessitating different nutrients. Young animals are building cells and tissues while older animals are working to maintain them. For that reason, puppies require more protein, fat, DHA for brain development, calcium for bone growth, and other vitamins and minerals. Aging animals, on the other hand, respond well to foods with omega-3 fatty acids and muscle-supporting protein.

Let's add another layer to the confusion: Dog breeds age at different rates. Small dogs can mature in less than a year, but they won't be seniors until they're about 12 years old. Larger dogs grow out of puppyhood more slowly, but they become seniors much faster.

Each breed might have specific nutrient requirements at different life stages. For example, older beagles need about 50% more protein than their hound counterparts. As all mutt lovers know, some dogs have no clear lineage. Figuring out their breeds might take Sherlock Holmesian-detective work (or a dog DNA test). Check with your veterinarian to make sure your dog is receiving breed-specific nutrition requirements.

Additionally, dogs with medical conditions such as diabetes or pregnancy will require different foods than a dog of similar breed, age, weight, and activity level.

When to Fetch New Food

Could it be time to upgrade your pup’s food formula? Nutrition is complicated — whether it's for your dog or yourself — but our pets count on us to make smart food choices for them. Although every animal is unique, look for the following signs that might indicate it's time to switch things up:

  • She stops eating or liking her food: Some pups are naturally pickier than others, so if your dog gradually or suddenly stops eating altogether, take action. Your first step should be to take Sassy to the vet to make sure nothing’s seriously wrong or that she hasn’t developed a food sensitivity. If your pet is simply picky, go on the prowl for another nutrient-packed food or flavor to ensure she stays healthy and active.
  • He is slowing down or showing signs of decline: We all get older — pets included. If your good boy is showing cognition loss or has problems getting around, investigate available foods that are rich in protein, DHA, and omega-3 fatty acids. Those nutrients will improve his quality of life as he ages.
  • She has changed her activity level: Have you and your dog recently begun a daily running regimen? Or have you started a new job that has cut your walks in half? Significant activity changes should also mean food changes to maintain weight and avoid malnourishment or obesity.
  • His poop is different: Dog poop can tell you a lot about your sweet fluff ball. If his poop is hard, for example, he might need more fiber or water in his diet. Try added supplements or fiber-rich food. Wet dog food can help with proper poop, too. If his stool is consistently soft or runny, consider feeding him the canned pumpkin and keeping him hydrated by pouring broth over his food until you can visit the vet.
  • She is pregnant, about to be pregnant, or nursing puppies: Is your dog bound for puppy mothering? Are her little ones already here? Mamas have specific and important nutritional needs. A lactating or soon-to-lactate female dog is supporting herself and her puppies, so you'll want to give her food designed for reproducing or nursing dogs. Your vet can help guide you, but a food designed for puppies can work in a pinch.
  • His skin or coat seems different: Dry skin, brittle fur, and a lackluster coat can indicate your dog is lacking enough fatty acids, zinc, or vitamin B. Supplements fortified with coconut or salmon oil can help — as can switching to a fish-based food. Just make sure the food is complete and balanced before you make a change.

Tips for Transitioning Food

Transitioning food is important for your dog's health. Ease your pup into a new diet by slowly adding the new food into the old. On the first day, present your pooch with a mixture of 25% new food and 75% current food. On day two, go for a half-and-half combo. By day three, switch to 75% new and 25% old. On day four, offer a full helping of the new food. Some dogs might need to take the transition more slowly; in those cases, stretch each percentage change over a few days.

Pet parents have to make daily decisions for their pets' health, and food is a significant part of that. Your dog's health needs will change over time, and so should his diet. Monitor your buddy’s nutritional and caloric needs, paying careful attention to adjustments in his activity levels and overall health. When in doubt, reach out to your vet.

About the Author

Dr. Laura Duclos leads Research and Development at Puppo, a personalized dog food company. Puppo personalizes kibble for each dog based on size, age, activity level, sensitivities, wellness goals, and more. She has more than 16 years of experience in developing nutritional pet food that supports animal health and well-being. Her clinical research has been featured in prominent publications and scientific journals, and she has been an invited speaker at numerous international veterinary conferences on pet nutrition and innovation.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,


If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Send this to a friend