By Guest Blogger: Karen Wehrstein, Homeopath journalist
In recent years, different types of dry dog food for various ages of dog have come to dominate store shelves. From puppy kibble to senior dog chow, the plethora of choices makes a dog-lover wonder: How important is it to buy different foods for different stages?
I’m going to say not very, for a very simple and logical reason. Consider the wild dogs that our domestic pooches evolved from—for much further back in time than we were serving them food in convenient bowls. As hunters and scavengers, they survived on what they could find, and that was the same at every stage of their lives. That was what their metabolisms evolved to handle, and so it remains today. Some would argue that puppies possibly received slightly different food, regurgitated by their mothers and therefore partly digested already, but that wouldn’t increase the caloric or protein content, as is done in many store-bought puppy foods.
The American Association of Feed Control Officers (AAFCO), which sets standards for nutritional content, has two categories: regular adult food and puppy food. A dog food labeled “All Life Stages” must satisfy the latter, more stringent, standard—or exceed it, as Carna4 does. The theory there is that dogs need excellent nutrients their whole lives long, which to me makes total sense.
What actually is important to adjust in a healthy dog diet is: the amount. How much food a dog needs depends on body size and level of activity, and thus can be influenced by breed and age. Puppies, being small in body size, need less, but that is offset by the fact that they are growing and active; senior dogs tend to be less active and so require fewer calories than active adults.
Puppies, because they are transitioning from nursing on demand to an adult feeding schedule, also need a little warm water added to their chow for easier chewing, and more frequent feedings over the day — three to four instead of two. If food remains in their bowl 20 minutes after feeding, remove it: your young pup has had enough!
With any age of dog, don’t give in to those big brown eyes: most breeds, given half a chance, will overeat, and obesity is no more healthy for dogs than it is for people. If choosing Carna4, see the Feeding Guidelines for full info on how much to feed your best friend, and then watch his or her weight to keep it to the right amount—from puppyhood to senior years.
Karen Wehrstein is a journalist, novelist and Homeopath, who lives on 30 wooded acres in Muskoka with two sons, three cats and two dogs, a Rottweiler-German Shepherd cross named Congo and her daughter Kirby, a Labrador Retriever cross. Karen has been doing research on health and wellness issues since 1995, when she discovered homeopathy.