As puppies develop into adult dogs, their nutritional requirements also change.
A dog’s life stage or age is one of the most important considerations when choosing a dog food. There are three general age categories for dogs: puppy or growth (less than 1 year old or less than 2 for large-breed dogs); adult (1 to 6 years old); and senior (7 years and up).
A puppy’s body requires more protein than adult dogs in order to build new tissue and support muscle, skin, hair coat and organ development. Because growing puppies have different nutritional needs from adult dogs, they should be fed a growth or puppy food. Puppy foods are formulated with higher levels of energy, high levels of protein, fatty acids such as DHA to support brain and vision development, calcium for bone growth and antioxidants to support the immune system.
An adult dog food should provide 100 percent complete and balanced nutrition, contain high-quality ingredients and be highly digestible. Feeding recommendations for adult dogs can vary, depending upon the breed, activity, metabolism and owner's preference. Regardless of whether a dog is fed once or twice each day, he should be fed at the same time, and fresh drinking water should always be made available.
When transitioning from puppy to adult food, do it gradually over a 7- to 10-day period. Add a small amount of the new diet to the food currently being fed. Each day increase the quantity of the new diet and decrease the amount of the old. This gradual diet change helps avoid digestive upsets.
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