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    Age-appropriate nutrition for dogs

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    It’s really important to choose the right diet for your dog.

    When it comes to choosing your dog’s food, you’ll need to think about health, age, size, breed and lots of other factors. As you’ll notice when you’re out shopping, there are lots of options out there when it comes to dog food!

    This includes dedicated puppy food, food for dental disease, diet-formulated kibble and more.

    We’ve put together a quick guide on choosing the right food for your pet’s nutritional requirements and life stage, so you can make sure your four-legged friend is eating the correct diet.

    How much food to feed your dog

    Keeping on top of pet nutrition is really important at any life stage. Feeding your dog the optimal diet for their age and any medical conditions can make a huge difference to quality of life and even life expectancy.

    There are different nutritional guidelines for each of a dog’s individual life stages – from puppy right through to senior. Put simply, you shouldn’t be feeding the same food to both puppies and senior dogs. Just like with humans, different ages need different nutrients and food groups.

    There are a few things you should generally look out for when you’re out shopping for pet food. Of course, depending on your dog’s health status (including allergies and intolerances etc.) you might need to look for or avoid specific ingredients.

    Guidelines for choosing between different types of dog food

    Food that you can buy from pet food specialists, supermarkets and online (in other words, food that’s easily commercially available) is generally the best bet for a balanced diet.

    Look out for dog food that has the word ‘Complete’ in the title – these recipes are specifically formulated to have all the nutrients your dog’s diet needs.

    Double-check packaging to make sure the dog food you’re buying is certified by the Pet Food Manufacturer’s Association (PFMA).

    It’s normally fine to feed your pet wet or dry food (or a combination of both). Just make sure you’re measuring them both and feeding the right amount of each type.

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    How much food to feed your dog

    Knowing how much to feed your dog is just as important as what you feed them. Again, every breed and life stage will have different requirements, and things like activity level and individual health conditions will play a part too.

    As a rule of thumb, follow the guidelines on the packaging to figure out how much you should feed your dog. Particularly for growing pets or those undergoing weight loss, take note of the weight recommendations – you should be providing the suggested amounts for your dog’s target weight.

    How much food to feed your dog

    To make sure your dog is getting a well balanced diet, it’s a good idea to weigh out small meals and individual portions. This way you can be sure that your dog isn’t getting fed too much or too little. Of course, you’ll still be offering the occasional treat as well!

    Generally, sticking to a feeding schedule and dividing the overall amount into about two to three smaller meals is recommended. Not only does this encourage regular and healthy digestion, but it can help to build a routine for you and your pet.

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    What to feed a puppy

    For most breeds, puppies and younger dogs will need to be fed a specific diet to help them reach a healthy weight. Food for puppies is enriched with specific nutrients and often optimised for specific breeds.

    For example, if you have a toy breed or similar, try to look out for ‘smallbreed puppy’ options. Similarly, large breed puppies will benefit from a tailor-made food.

    Food that’s designed for younger dogs is tailored to their nutritional requirements. For example, too much of certain minerals (including calcium) can have an impact on bone growth and development.

    The breeder or kennel you got your puppy from may have started feeding a certain variety of food. It’s recommended to change to a complete puppy diet over the duration of a week if this is not what they are currently being fed.

    What to feed a puppy

    Food that’s designed for younger dogs is tailored to their nutritional requirements. For example, too much or too little of certain minerals (including calcium) can have an impact on bone growth and development.

    Puppies are best fed between three to four meals a day to begin with, to make sure they’ve got enough energy throughout the day. This can be reduced to two meals a day as your dog grows up.

    Of course, as your puppy gets older, the amount of food they need is going to change too. Make sure you’re feeding the right amount for your dog’s growth stage, and consider decreasing the number of times per day you feed them.

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    When you should switch from puppy food

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    Small Breeds

    Smaller breeds (e.g. Toy Poodles, Chihuahuas), usually mature at around 10 months.

    Medium Breeds

    For medium breeds (e.g. Border Collies, some Spaniels), maturity usually comes at around a year old.

    Large Breeds

    A large or giant breed dog (e.g. Labradors, Golden Retrievers, Great Danes, Newfoundlands) will take the longest to mature – thanks to the amount of growing they have to take care of! It can take around 18 months to two years for these dogs to fully mature.

    Once they’ve matured and grown out of that puppy stage, it’s time to start thinking about feeding your dog adult food. It’s important not to rush the move from puppy to adult dog food. Changing too quickly, or all at once, can cause a change in appetite or even slight stomach upsets. To try and reduce this, make the change gradually – though don’t worry too much if there is still a bit of a transition period.

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    Registered Office: Animal Trust Administration Centre, Cedab Road, Ellesmere Port, CH65 4FE