Pet owners really love their cats and dogs. Unfortunately, they often equate their own needs with that of the pet’s needs. All humans need food, companionship, water and sleep. Animals, just like humans, need to live a healthy life that includes regular exercise and proper nutrition.

From birth through old age, our nutritional needs change. As a baby, you drank formula and slowly graduated to solid foods. Pets are much like humans in that they require certain nutrients at different times in their lives. Switching your dog’s food may be necessary for a variety of reasons, such as digestive troubles or maybe, the brand is no longer sold. In addition to these issues, there are other reasons why it may be necessary to make a change in your dog’s diet. Continue reading to learn more about these reasons and how to introduce a new pet food into your pet’s diet.

Dog Enters a Different Stage of Life

There are three distinct stages in a dog’s life according to pet experts and veterinarians. The first stage is the puppy stage. During this stage, a puppy is actively growing and needs more protein and calories than the other stages of growth. Pet food for this stage of your puppy’s life is generally labeled as a “growth” formula or “puppy” food. The Association of American Feed Control Officials, also known as AAFCO, sets strict standards concerning the nutrients contained in this type of formula. It is imperative that you give a growing dog this type of pet food. Otherwise, your pet’s growth may be stunted or an illness may occur.

The second stage of life for a dog is called adult life. During this stage, the adult dog no longer needs the extra calories or protein that puppies need because they are no longer growing. Pets in this stage of life can become overweight if they do not receive enough exercise or are allowed to continue to eat puppy food. You want a food that is rated as an adult to help protect against obesity that can be detrimental to the health of your pet. There are pet foods that are marketed as pet food for all the stages of your pet’s life. These type of foods should be avoided as they contain excess calories, nutrients and fats that can lead to obesity.

The last stage of your pet’s life is considered senior life. During this stage of their life, pets may experience medical issues that require changes in their diet. If you pet has mobility issues, your vet may recommend a pet food that contains fatty acids to help lubricate their joints. If your pet suffers from kidney or heart disease, it is especially important that they are fed a pet food that is specifically made for these diseases. Unfortunately, the AAFCO does not have a formula specifically made for the senior pet. So, look for an adult formula that says that it is recommended for senior pets.

Pets are considered to be in the senior stage of life when they reach 7 to 8 years old. During this stage in your pet’s life, they will need a formula that offers extra immune and joint support to help them remain healthy and happy throughout their mature years.

Activity Levels

Another reason that you may need to switch to a different dog food is your dog’s activity level. Much like humans, the more active your pet is, the more calories it will need. Conversely, if your pet lives a sedentary lifestyle, he will require fewer calories. You want to ensure your pet is receiving the calories she needs without consuming too many that can lead to obesity. Read your pet food label to help you determine the number of calories in each serving size to ensure you pet is getting the proper nutrition.

Special Needs

Some dogs suffer from food sensitivities. Others have health problems that require different nutritional requirements. For this reason, it is important that your pet has regular veterinarian visits. During these visits, discuss your pet’s nutritional requirements and ask your vet to recommend a food based on their unique needs.

Different pet food formulas contain different nutrients. You want one that will supply your dog with the nutrition he needs during each stage of life. For example, if your pet has mobility issues or skin problems, you want a formula that contains essential fatty acids. Look for a dog food that contains both Omega-3 fatty acids and Omega-6 fatty acids, as they work together to ensure that your pet’s joints stay lubricated and their coats remain shiny and healthy.

If your pet seems weak or lethargic, schedule a visit to your veterinarian to ensure that your beloved pooch is receiving the nutrients he needs.

Another common problem in pets is gastrointestinal upset. This generally is due to a food sensitivity or stress. If you pet is suffering from upset stomach, constipation or diarrhea, it is essential that you take him to see the vet. He will get to the bottom of the problem and may recommend changing what you feed your pet.

Proper nutrition is one of the best ways to ensure that your pet lives a long, healthy life. If you suspect you need to change you dog’s diet, consult your veterinarian as sudden changes in your pet’s diet can lead to further complications. Proper nutrition throughout all the stages of your dog’s life will help ensure that your pet has a happy, healthy life.

Martyn Williams is a record-holding extreme explorer, author and successful entrepreneur. He is a yoga teacher and practices natural and Ayurveda healing. To learn more, check out his site, Haritaki.org.

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