Another very important factor of your pet’s food is formulation for life stage. Every bag of pet food is made up of a different proportion of ingredients in order to serve different nutritional needs. It is very important that you consider your pet’s breed, age, size, and activity level when evaluating a pet food. Foods meant for different life stages often have different properties.
All Life Stages
This type of food is usually balanced to provide proper nutrition for animals of any age. Often, if a food label doesn’t say what life stage it is made for, then it can be fed to pets of all ages. For pets with no health issues or special considerations, these formulas are often a very easy way to maintain a healthy lifestyle from birth to senior age, without having to switch brands and formulas as your pet grows. Many of the higher-quality foods are suitable for all life stages because they are saturated with nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.This means that your pet will reap the benefits of the food, no matter what their age, breed, or size.
Puppy or Kitten
Many times, foods for puppies and kittens are made with smaller kibble for smaller mouths. They often have a higher calorie content than adult foods in order to maintain the high levels of energy that most little ones possess. High-quality puppy and kitten formulas contain DHA, which helps support brain growth. A basic recommendation is that puppies and kittens can be switched to an “Adult” formula of food when they reach one year of age. Some pet owners also choose to switch to an adult food when their pet has reached its adult size. It generally won’t harm your pet to switch to an adult formula sooner or stay on a puppy or kitten formula for a bit longer. There are no strict parameters, and so the guideline for switching small or medium dogs and cats to an adult formula is some time between eight to twelve months of age.
Large Breed Puppy
The rules for determining a “large breed” dog are flexible and not set in stone. Most people consider a large breed to be a dog that will be over twenty-five inches tall at the shoulder or over 60 pounds at full size. Foods for large breed puppies usually have ingredients to support bone and skeletal health. It’s important for large breed dogs to grow at a slow, steady pace during their puppy stages in order to prevent hip and joint issues later on in their lives. Sometimes, regular puppy foods can cause large-breed dogs to grow too quickly, which can cause stress on the joints, especially the hips, and can lead to health issues as they age. Some dog owners decide to switch their large breed puppy over to an adult formula between ten and sixteen months of age, rather than at one year old.
Adult foods are made to provide complete and balanced nutrition for your pet for the majority of its life. For dogs, the adult life stage is generally from one to seven years of age. For cats, it’s just a little bit longer- it ranges from one year to about ten years of age. Adult formula foods are intended to help maintain your pet’s overall health by providing complete and balanced nutrition for every day of your pet’s life. All life stages foods have all the vitamins, minerals, and nutritional value required to support a healthy immune system, healthy skin and coat, strong bones, and proper digestion on a long-term basis. They don’t usually contain extra ingredients for special considerations, such as joint issues, urinary tract disorders, obesity, or dental issues. Adult formula foods are great for healthy pets who need their food simply to help them maintain their health. They aim to fuel your pet’s body to operate at peak performance (and cuddliness).
Because senior pets frequently develop dental issues, many senior foods often have smaller and/or softer kibble. Formulas for seniors generally have lower fat and calorie content, because many senior pets are less active and slow down as they age. To help with digestion, the fiber content in a senior food is usually higher than adult and puppy/kitten formula. Some foods for senior pets also have added glucosamine and chondroitin to combat arthritis pains and promote joint health.