The Difference Between Puppy, Dog and Senior Dog Food

We all know that we need to be careful how much we exercise our young Pup. Some of us may notice that after adopting a dog our older pooch is getting a little slower and less interested in getting out of their bed in the morning or eating their dog food. We may notice new health issues popping up as our dog ages or they take a little longer to recover after playing with the kids. It stands to reason that as most of their care needs alter as they age, that their dog food and nutritional requirements will change too. So, what do we need to consider when feeding a senior dog? Well, we’re going to start at the beginning, so you have the information you need no matter what age of dog you bring into your home.

Puppy Food Nutrition Guide

It’s incredible really; puppies are standing on their own four paws, eating, playing and running into their new home at 8-10 weeks old. They undergo rapid development, none more-so than large or giant breeds. Crucial in body-wide function, development and repair is protein. Protein is found in every cell in the body, so it stands to reason that a puppy food is high in protein. Current guidelines suggest that puppy needs 12.5g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight – this drops massively to 2.26g in a fully matured dog. They also use fat.Despite being the arch nemesis of most humans, fat is actually a vital energy source and we know puppies use lots of that! Ideally, 8% of their diet should consist of fat, reducing to 5% as they fully mature. When we say fully matured, this will depend on the breed of dog; a toy or small breed will be fully matured around 12 months of age. A large-giant breed can take between 18-24 months to fully mature.

Feeding Giant Dog Breeds

Speaking of large breeds, high quality puppy foods should identify if they are appropriate for a large breed or not. Due to their rapid growth, their skeleton can become less dense and therefore weak. For this reason, owners need to be mindful of the calcium content of the food. Large breeds should average no more than 4.5g calcium per 1000 calories. Giant-large breed foods will also be less calorie dense to avoid excess weight gain – that’s the last thing we need for a weaker-still-developing skeleton. General rule of thumb, a good quality puppy food should have at least 22-30% protein and 8 or 9% fat.

Adult Dog Feeding Requirements

Fully matured dogs still require protein and fat. Despite there not being a requirement for carbohydrate content, cooked carbs provide a good source of energy which is perfect for those active dogs. Ensure Fido’s adult food meets his nutritional needs and keep an eye on his weight. You should be able to see an hour glass from a bird’s eye view. He should have a waist and whilst not being able to see them, you should be able to feel his ribs.

Senior Dog Food – Feeding Guide

Your pooch is a senior at half of their life expectancy, for some large breeds this can be as young as 6. As he ages, he will likely get less active. Weight gain and muscle loss is common in older pets, but by choosing the right food for him, we can prevent this. Senior food is not just a marketing ploy. A good quality senior food should be higher in protein but low in caloric content. As we mentioned, protein is crucial in cell growth and repair, especially in those muscles. For that reason, the general rule of thumb is at least 30% protein content. Some senior foods will also have added supplements like glucosamine or chondroitin for joint support and Essential Fatty Acids to help ward off cognitive decline.

Summary of the Difference

Finding the right dog food for your pooch can be a bit of a minefield, but, the label should tell you everything you need to know. Ideally, the first ingredient should be a quality source of animal protein.Look at the guaranteed analysis to figure out if it will meet the nutritional requirements of your pooch – whatever his age!  Different life stage foods are exactly that – getting your head around them will help your pooch have the best quality of life.


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