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Nutritional Needs of Dogs

By Hundidocom @hundidopuppy
homemade dog foods

Dogs at different stages of life have particular nutritional needs – whether growing puppies, nursing mothers, sport dogs, or older pets. It is important to ensure your dog has the right nutrients for health and energy for his age.

(Check out Monitoring What Your Dog Eats)


Once puppies are weaned, they need to be fed little and often – four times a day at first, going down to three times a day from about six months. Puppies grow fast so they need high-energy food; ask your vet if you are unsure of the right quantity to feed your pup based on his size. Increase the amount slowly as he grows but avoid over feeding as this can lead to obesity in later life. It may be best to feed commercial puppy food to make sure you pup gets the right balance of nutrients.

puppy food


If you have bought your puppy from a breeder, he may supply a sample of the food that the pup has been eating. Stick to this food in the beginning and introduce changes gradually.

Adult Pets

For many dogs, two meals a day (morning and evening) is enough. Neutered dogs need fewer calories than un-neutered dogs; otherwise, feed according to your dog’s size and activity level. Monitor your dog’s weight regularly to make sure you are giving him the right amount of food.

adult dog food


Working Dogs

Working or sport dogs should have high protein, energy-dense, easily digestible foods to maximize their strength, speed, and stamina. However, the volume of food given to a working should be no more than for a normal adult dog. Different types of work need different energy sources:

  • For short, sharp bursts such as racing or agility shows, dogs need a moderately increased fat intake.
  • For endurance work such as sledding, hunting, or herding animals, dogs need high fat foods with extra protein.
working-dog food


Nursing Mothers

A pregnant bitch can stay on her usual diet until the last two to three weeks of pregnancy; from this point until whelping, her energy needs will increase by 25 to 50%. The bitch may lose her appetite as the time to give birth approaches – this is normal. Her appetite will soon return after the puppies are born. A bitch producing milk will need two to three times as many calories than normal in the first four weeks, as the puppies’ milk needs are at their highest. Feed her energy-dense food such as puppy food or working-dog food, and feed little and often. By the time the puppies begin weaning – six to eight weeks – the bitch will still need extra calories until she has stopped producing milk altogether.

pregnant dog food


Convalescent Dogs

A sick dog will need easily digestible food such as boiled chicken and rice; your vet can help give you guidance. Some companies make extra-nutritious, palatable food for convalescent dogs. Feed your dog little and often and ensure the food is at body temperature so it will be more tempting. Keep a note of how much your dog is easting, and report any loss of appetite to the vet.

convalescent dog food


Older Dogs

Form about age seven onwards, dogs start to need more nutrients but fewer calories. Many do well on a normal adult diet, slightly reduced in quantity and with vitamin and mineral supplements. Some dog food companies produce “senior” formulas that are softer, palatable, and with higher protein, lower fat, and extra vitamins and minerals. You may need to adjust feeding three times a day. A slower metabolic rate makes older dogs prone to obesity. Keeping a healthy eight can improve the quality and length of your dog’s life.

senior dog food


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