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Feeding your Dog or Cat for their Life Stage

Whether it is your new puppy or kitten, or your older pal your pet’s needs in terms of what they eat are just as unique as them. This blog will briefly cover what they need in terms of nutrition as they grow from that cute fluff ball you brought home to your retiring best friend.

Puppies and kittens

Kittens are slightly easier compared to puppies. They need good quality food designed for their age. There is a huge range of kitten foods out there to choose from. Make sure when choosing the food you pick one designed for their age range. Some pet food will have a range for juvenile cats that have been spayed or neutered, these tend to be lower in calories to prevent weight gain following the hormonal changes they get from being altered. Kittens can be fed by what they call free-choice feeding. This means that their daily allowance is left down for them to graze on throughout the day. If you are feeding a good quality complete diet, there is no need to supplement your kitten’s diet with anything else. Kittens are less likely to become overweight compared to puppies, but they should still only be fed their recommended daily allowance. One thing kittens definitely don’t need once they have been weaned from their mom is milk. Whether it’s specially designed kitten milk or cows’ milk. Kitten food will have everything they need, and milk can often end up overfeeding them or causing unwanted stomach upsets. As with every pet make sure they have a freshwater source available.

Puppies are slightly more complicated. They need their diet monitored a bit more closely. Again, puppies need to be fed a complete diet designed for puppies. However, they also benefit from being fed food designed for their breed size. These diets are better balanced for your puppy's needs as they grow. Puppies being fed the incorrect diet can grow too fast or too slow this can cause all sorts of health problems particularly with their bones that are still forming together at their age. Puppies also benefit from being fed meals several times a day over being fed free choices like kittens. This is because free-choice feeding in dogs can cause overeating, which can cause rapid growth of bones leading to health problems. They should be fed their daily allowance over three to four meals, as they get older this can be cut down to less frequent meals. This is particularly important when your puppy is at 3-5 months of age – this is what they call their rapid growth phase and where they do the majority of their growing.

Like with kittens once your puppy has been neutered their needs in terms of food change and they require fewer calories than they did before. Some diets are designed for neutered dogs, and others will have separate feeding guides for them too. Both puppies and kittens only need to be fed their complete diet. Adding treats in, even at a young age, can lead to issues with their weight. If you need treats for training it’s recommended to take some of your puppy’s kibble from their daily allowance to use instead of extras.

Adult dog and cats

Once your dog or cat becomes an adult, moving them onto an adult diet that’s complete is recommended. This should be done slowly, mixing the two diets together slowly adding one in, and taking the other away. They usually recommend doing this over a period of weeks. This can help prevent those fussy eating habits they can sometimes pick up. Once you’ve found a diet that suits your pet stick to it. Changing their diet frequently can create fussy eating habits and even cause stomach upsets resulting in diarrhea.

As with kittens, cats generally prefer to be a free choice but it’s important to ensure they don’t get more than their daily allowance. Dogs tend to be happier being fed in meals but once they have finished growing if you choose to free choice feed this is ok too.

Older cats and dogs

Changing your pet onto a senior diet is much more beneficial than you might think. Diets come in age ranges for your pet and changing them according to this allows an easy way to make sure they are getting what they need. Cats usually need to go onto senior diets around age seven. Some diet ranges will even have one for geriatric cats from the age of 11 and up. Dogs, dependent on size, usually go on a senior diet from 6-8 years of age. These diets usually have different quantities of nutrients to ensure your pet has everything they need.

Cats can lose muscle mass more easily in old age so it is important to make sure they eat enough. Changing them from dry to wet diets or a mix can help with this because it makes their diet more appealing. Some people will even heat their cat’s food to encourage them to eat. Making sure both dogs and cats of old age have plenty of water is important. However, if you notice your elderly pet drinking more than they usually would it is worth chatting to the vet to make sure they are aging well.

Senior diets will normally contain what are called functional ingredients or nutraceuticals. These are supplements such as glucosamine, omega fatty acids, and antioxidants. These are added to help common ailments such as arthritis.

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