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Ask Dr. Aziza: How Your Dog's Nutrition Needs Change Throughout Their Lives

written by Ellie Walker

Nutrition plays an important role in health and longevity at every stage of your dog’s life. Let’s take a look at Dr. Aziza's explanation of how dog nutrition needs can change throughout their lifespan.

Dog nutrition needs during the puppy years

The best puppy food options are formulated to meet the three key nutritional needs of young dogs:


  • Frequent meals throughout the day: Puppies are young balls of energy that require frequent meals throughout the day to help maintain their blood glucose levels.


  • Calories match their energy use: They also require a certain amount of calories to keep up with their young and robust metabolism.


  • Takes their breed size into consideration: Because dog breeds come in different sizes, it’s also important to ensure the diet helps regulate the calories and calcium intake, preventing nutrition-related diseases like hip dysplasia and osteochondrosis. This is why it’s strongly recommended to choose diets labeled for large or giant breed puppies when indicated.


Knowing this, I would recommend trying Freshpet® Select Puppy Recipe with Chicken, Egg, and Vegetable or Vital® Grain-Free Chicken, Beef, and Salmon Puppy Recipe, both of which are formulated to meet your dog’s nutritional needs during this early stage of life.


Dog nutrition needs during the adult years

As a puppy becomes an adult, two key changes occur that directly affect a dog’s nutritional needs:


  • Health challenges: Medical issues like osteoarthritis, kidney disease, and even bladder stones alter the nutrition necessary for treatment and disease management.


  • Energy levels: A dog who was active as a puppy can turn into a couch potato, decreasing its activity level. Maintaining the same consumption of calories can lead to obesity which further increases the risk of developing diabetes mellitus in the future.


During your dog’s adult years, it’s important to monitor their weight and activity level, as well as schedule annual physical exams to see if any adjustments to your dog’s nutritional needs are recommended.

For an adult dog in good health and with average energy levels, it’s more about finding a diet that is made with high-quality ingredients in a format they enjoy. I recommend taking a look at the different lines of Freshpet recipes and trying a few to see which your dog enjoys the most.


Dog nutrition needs during the senior years

Senior dogs are more likely to have chronic diseases that require long-term management. They also need different nutritional needs compared to younger dogs, including:


  • Good fatty acids


  • High-quality protein


  • Higher levels of vitamins C and E


  • Fiber


  • Minerals


Research studies also show that adding antioxidants to your senior dog’s daily diet helps to improve memory and cognitive function. Senior dogs are also more likely to be dehydrated throughout the day, so increasing their water intake is a great way to decrease age-related changes.

Based on the nutrition needs of senior dogs, I would recommend trying Freshpet® Select Fresh from the Kitchen Home Cooked Chicken recipe as it has a high moisture content, antioxidant-rich cranberries, and high-quality protein that is a healthy dog food option for senior dogs.


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