Your dog's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your dog, how much food to feed, and the differences in dog foods, so your dog gets optimum nutrition.

Pet Food Ingredients & Nutrients: Dogs are What They Eat


From Puppy to Senior: Devising the Right Nutrient Profile for Your Dog


Reputable pet food companies rely on advice and assistance from veterinarians and other experts in pet nutrition who are valued members of their company’s team. These individuals have a full understanding of the nutritional needs of dogs at all life stages, from puppies to seniors. They also understand how ingredients can be combined to result in the necessary nutrient profiles.


The nutrient profile required for your individual dog will vary depending on many factors. Age, reproductive status, lifestyle, and overall health all play a role in determining what levels of nutrients are required by your individual dog.


In general, puppies require higher protein levels than adult dogs. Higher levels of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a specific type of fatty acid, are required for growing puppies, as well as higher levels of calcium and phosphorus. It is also important to keep puppies lean. Obesity can lead to a variety of problems as your puppy matures. As a result, excess energy in the diet should be avoided.


For large and giant breed puppies, excesses of calcium must be avoided as well. Excess calcium levels can lead to orthopedic problems. Feeding a food that is formulated for growth is preferable for puppies as these foods are balanced to take the specific needs of growing puppies into account. Feed your puppy the amount of “puppy food” required to keep his body condition at an ideal point.


Senior dogs often have specialized nutritional needs, too. For instance, joint disease is common in older dogs and nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids (specifically eicosapentaenoic acid or EPA) may be helpful in relieving the associated pain. Additionally, older dogs may suffer from other illnesses, such as kidney disease, in which the levels of phosphorus and other electrolytes must be controlled.


Consult Your Veterinarian


Your veterinarian is your best source of information about your pet’s health and that includes your pet’s nutritional needs as well. Speak with your veterinarian about your pet’s diet. Your veterinarian will be able to help you choose the most appropriate diet for your dog based on your dog’s health, age, lifestyle, and breed.


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