The right nutrition in every phase of life

Boston Terrier
31.03.2021
Dog owners kiss the dog more often than their partner
31.03.2021

The right nutrition in every phase of life

The life phases of dogs can be roughly divided into three phases: the growth phase, adulthood and senior age. In the three phases, the diet has different goals:

  • Performance metabolism in the growth phase: Depending on its final size, the puppy must reach up to a hundred times its birth weight within the first two years of life.
  • Maintenance metabolism in adulthood: maintenance of a normal body weight, regular digestion and a beautiful, shiny coat
  • Preservation of health in the elderly: prevention of typical diseases of old age and the relief of the “aging” organs

Nutrition for Growing Dogs

Puppies should double their birth weight in the first 7-10 days. They need a lot of energy to grow. High-quality complete feed for puppies such as “Holistic Puppy” from almo nature (12kg for 50 €) meet the nutritional needs of young dogs. The following points are essential when feeding puppies and young dogs:

  • Feed type: breast milk in the first three weeks of life, then supplement feed
  • Amount of food: After weaning breast milk (approx. 8 weeks), divide the daily ration into 3-4 meals, from six months into two
  • Challenge: The puppy must not become too heavy too quickly, otherwise there is a risk of bone and joint diseases
  • especially important: adequate nutrition with calcium and phosphorus for bone growth

The optimal ratio of calcium and phosphorus is 1.2–1.5 to 1. Under no circumstances should the feed ration be supplemented uncontrollably with calcium supplements (e.g. puppy lime), as an oversupply can also seriously disrupt the development of the skeleton. Discuss all dietary supplements with the veterinarian!

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For the first three weeks, puppies feed exclusively on breast milk. © Evgenia Tiplyashina-stock.adobe.com

Adult Dog Diet

Small and medium-sized dogs should be switched to an adult diet no later than the end of their first year of life, and large dogs no later than the end of their second year of life. An adult dog no longer needs as much protein, calcium and phosphorus as it does when it is growing. It is important to note the following:

  • Long-haired dogs need around 20% more protein to change their coat in spring and autumn. Since most adult foods contain more than the required 18% protein per kilogram of dry matter, they automatically cover this additional requirement.
  • A serious excess of proteins should be avoided, as this can result in digestive disorders and the excess protein nitrogen has to be excreted via the liver and kidneys.

Adulthood is about keeping the dog’s weight constant and avoiding obesity. Particular attention must be paid to this after neutering, because dogs then have a lower energy requirement and tend to be overweight if they are fed the same amount. Many manufacturers offer dog food especially for neutered dogs, the recipe of which is adapted to the slowed metabolism after neutering, such as “CCN Sterilized” from Royal Canin (10kg for 46 €).

Old Dog Diet

In older dogs, a calmer lifestyle will reduce the energy requirement. The energy supply should be reduced accordingly if the scales show additional kilos. Conversely, a decreased sense of smell and taste can lead to a decrease in appetite and a decrease in seniority. In that case, be sure to go to the vet to rule out a disease. A highly digestible food with a higher energy density can limit weight loss.

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Old dogs have lower energy needs. © Daniel Rodriguez-stock.adobe.com

Weigh in every phase of life

No matter what stage of life, a dog should be weighed regularly to control weight. In the growth phase, this should be done and documented once a week. A growth curve that can be created individually in collaboration with an expert (e.g. breeder or veterinarian) is suitable for this. This enables healthy growth at the right pace.

In adulthood, weighing is also used as a control. In this way, the daily ration can be adjusted to a weight gain or loss if necessary.

Overview: nutritional requirements according to life phase

The nutritional needs of dogs differ at different stages of life.

JuniorAdult DogSeniorEnergyHigh demand, especially in the first 6 monthsDepending on the activity of the dog, lower demand after castrationLower demandCalcium & PhosphorusIncreased demand, especially in large breedsDeed only half as high as when growing % Protein per kilogram of dry matter sufficient18% protein per kilogram of dry matter already covers the requirement well, a little more but not harmful As for adult dogs, lower requirement for liver and kidney problems Trace elements iron, copper and zinc High requirement, approx. Twice as high as for the adult dog Lower requirement, in special situations increased requirement (e.g. for wound healing: high zinc requirement) iron and copper as in the adult dog; but increased zinc requirement in old age Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) High requirement, approx. twice as high as for the adult dog

“Rule 1-10-100” for the minimum requirement of vitamins A, D and E per day and kg body weight: 1 mg vitamin E, 10 IU (international units) vitamin D and 100 IU vitamin A

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Avoid excess vitamin A (e.g. when feeding liver); for cell protection, increased need for vitamin E as an antioxidantWater-soluble vitamins (B complexes) with antibiotics or very high-carbohydrate rations: increased vitamin B1 requirement

Increased need due to decreased absorption from the intestine and increased losses via the kidneys