Ever feel overwhelmed when you start to peruse all the various dietary options on offer for dogs? Which is going to be the healthiest diet for your pet?
The truth is, there is no one perfect diet to suit every dog. Home-cooked diets can be preferable for some pets, but they don’t always deliver on long-term nutritional requirements without the guidance of a qualified veterinary nutritionist (plus, it’s lots of preparation and work on your part!). Additionally, pet health benefits from the food safety checks, nutritional consultancy, and long-term feeding trials that go into the production of established veterinary-approved pet foods.
With that in mind, here’s what we would recommend feeding your dog for balanced nourishment throughout their life.
Feeding during the puppy stage
For puppies, we recommend feeding a complete and balanced puppy growth diet in accordance with the labelled quantity guidelines. So, what does that look like?
Compared to adult dog foods, standard puppy diets have higher protein and calorie levels for growth, and a specific balance of calcium and phosphorous to support healthy bone development. Interestingly, large-breed-specific puppy diets have different levels of calories and balanced nutrients to support the slower growth rate and lean body condition recommended for healthy bone development in larger pups.
It’s generally recommended to feed a small to medium-sized puppy a regular puppy growth diet until they are 10-12 months old, whilst large- to giant-breed puppies should be fed a large-breed growth diet until 18-24 months old. Feeding a puppy diet for longer than this isn’t specifically harmful, but can predispose your pet to stacking on excess weight!
Adult dietary requirements
The good news is as long as a food states that it is “complete and balanced” for adult pets, you have a larger range of potential diets for your adult dog, depending on your preferences (and theirs).
We recommend that the majority of your adult dog’s diet consists of a veterinary-approved food that meets their micronutrient requirements, and limits their exposure to excess ingredients that could cause health problems in the long-term.
Between 7-10 years of age, some dogs can benefit from a switch to a senior diet.
Senior diets focus on high-quality, digestible proteins combined with reduced overall calories to help your pet to maintain a healthy lean muscle mass. They also frequently incorporate clinically-proven antioxidants and essential fatty acids to support brain, joint and organ health.
For older pets on a regular adult diet and in healthy body condition, we recommend the benefits of a high-quality, veterinary-approved essential fatty acid supplement for long-term anti-inflammatory benefits. Consult our supplement-savvy vets regarding the safest and most effective options for your pet.
Special dietary needs
For pets with specific health concerns, prescription veterinary diets can be a simple way of treating and supporting their condition so that they can continue living their best life.
Prescription diets can help in the management of:
- Kidney disease
- Dental disease
- Intestinal sensitivities
- Brain health
- Liver disease
For more personalised advice on the healthiest diet for your pet, have a chat with our nutritionally-knowledgeable veterinary team!