The right nutrition can make a big difference in the health and longevity of our pets. Dogs and cats both have different requirements when it comes to their diets, and these requirements also change at all the stages of their lifecycle.
Canine Premium Nutrition:
Dogs are made to eat more than just meat, they have requirements for a range of nutrients. Their wild ancestors would eat the entire carcass of their prey including muscle (meat), bones, skin and organs. With more research into nutrition for animals there are plenty of diets on the market which provide dogs with all their specific needs. Feeding the correct diet for the appropriate life stage of your pet can help to maintain health and prolong their life. There are 3 main life stages for dogs which must be factored into best choice of diet.
Puppy: 0-1 year
- Feeding the correct diet at this age is vital for proper growth and development of puppies. The correct diet will be balanced to provide them with the protein, energy, calcium and phosphorous levels they need for bone development. Also important is correct nutrients to enable immune system development, hair/coat quality, joint health, weight management and more.
- The correct diet will also take into account your puppies adult size (e.g. small, medium, large or giant breed puppy).
- Once desexed food requirements also decrease slightly due to alterations in metabolism.
Adult dog: 1-7 years (up to 5 years in giant/large breeds)
- Adult dogs require proper nutrition to maintain their physical condition and health.
- Their requirements may change throughout this phase of life. Some may require more weight control (e.g. metabolic diets), or if very active they may have higher energy needs (e.g. working dogs). Other prescription diets are available for a range of conditions.
- Examples include: skin allergies/sensitivities, stomach sensitivities/allergies, weight control, diabetes, urinary issues, joint care, kidney disease, pancreatitis, dental disease and more.
Senior dog: 7+ years (5+ in giant breeds)
- Once dogs reach mature life stages, nutritional requirements change again. As they reach their senior years proper nutrition is formulated to provide more focus on weight control, joint health, immune system boosting, organ function and brain function. Some will also have other specific needs (e.g. prescription diets listed above), which must factored in.
Ensure that you discuss the best diet for your dog at your next vet visit.
Feline Premium Nutrition:
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning they have an absolute need for meat in every meal. Unlike dogs and humans, cats require amino acids (taurine, arginine) that they get directly from meat as they cannot produce them on their own. Dog food, human food and vegetables contain insufficient amounts of these amino acids to satisfy cats needs. Deficiency can result in heart disease, foetal abnormalities, growth abnormalities, degenerative eye disorders and more. It is very important your cat is fed a premium diet suited to their life stage. A lot of cats are also lactose intolerant so cows milk is no good for them.
- Balanced diets are necessary to provide your kitten with the calcium, phosphorous, protein and energy requirements for proper bone growth, immune system and organ development, digestive health and more.
- Ensure to pick a food for the right growth phase of your kitten, under 4 months is where a lot of their growth occurs and this tends to slow down when they are over 4 months.
- Initially more frequent feeding of kittens is ideal (3-4 meals per day) especially when under 4 months. As they get a bit older this can be increased to 2 meals per day.
- Once neutered your kittens energy requirements will change. Desexing can alter their metabolism and result in more sedentary behaviour.
Adult 1-10 years:
- Nutrition at this stage of life is focused on maintaining health and condition.
- There is also the option to feed indoor vs. outdoor in some brands of food based on the fact that energy and protein requirements are altered by their environment. Outdoor cats tend to use a lot more energy day to day as they do roam and get more exercise.
- Prescription diets are also available for a range of conditions which cats can develop in their adult lifestage. Examples include: skin allergies/sensitivities, stomach sensitivities/allergies, weight control, diabetes, urinary issues, kidney disease, dental disease and more.
Mature 10+ years:
- Older cats do have an increased risk of developing certain conditions and illnesses
- These include: kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, heart disease, arthritis and more
- Mature diets help to maintain weight, assist immune function and organ function
- Some may require prescription diets still as listed above
- Regular vet checks of every 6 months are best as cats become 12years or older as often signs of disease can be very subtle. It is also a good idea to monitor appetite, drinking and urination habits for any changes that might appear.
Ensure you discuss the best diet for your cat at your next visit.
Keeping your pet a healthy weight is also an important consideration when deciding on the best food. Check out the video below to help determine if your pet is overweight.