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Dogs come in many assorted breeds, shapes, and sizes. They also have different nutritional requirements as they age. Choosing the right type of dog food for your pet will help to keep it healthy and happy as it ages. Here are some guidelines to follow when choosing the proper dog food for your dog's breed and age.
Most dogs are considered puppies from birth to age 12 months. However, large breed dogs (such as Newfoundlanders, Great Danes, etc.) are considered puppies up to the age of 18 months. It's important to choose the right puppy food depending on the size of your dog.
"Normal" puppies require puppy food for the first year. This type of dog food contains extra protein and fats to help with muscle and skeletal growth, ensuring optimum nutrition during this fast growth stage. Large breeds, on the other hand, require puppy food specifically made for large breeds. That's because the "large-breed puppy foods" are designed to help reduce hip and joint diseases often associated with fast growth in large dogs. Remember... large breeds should be fed puppy food for 18 months.
Adult Dog Food
Once your dog has reach adult hood (12 months for most dogs, 18 months for large breeds), it's time to switch to Adult Dog Food. Depending on your dogs size and activity level, you'll need to choose the proper food to fit your dog's lifestyle. Adult dog food should contain the proper levels of protein, fat and carbohydrates that your dog will need to maintain a healthy life. However, if you dog is very active and has a lot of high energy, you may want to feed him on of the high-energy, high performance foods. These contain extra calories to supplement the calories your very active dog burns off.
Calorie Reduced Food
Humans aren't the only ones who tend to put on weight. Dogs who are less active and don't get as much exercise as they should will also tend to become "heavy". This can cause stress on your dog's joints and muscles. "Diet" dog foods are strictly regulated by the industry and must contain no more than 1409 calories/pound of food. Don't confuse this with labels that say "reduced calorie" or "reduced fat". This type of labeling is misleading, as the dog food may still contain a lot of fat and calories. Only "lite" foods fall under industry guidelines. Read your labels carefully.
Senior Dog Food
Once your dog reaches the age of 7 he enters his "senior" years. At this time, you should probably switch to the Senior Dog Foods. You will probably notice that your dog is becoming less active, sleeps more and may have more stiffness in his joints. Senior Dog food contains reduced fat, increased fiber levels, and additional Glucosomine, along with reduced salt and phosphorus levels.
Choose Your Dog Food Brand Carefully
No matter what age your dog is, be sure to take the time and research the best types of dog foods on the market. Many cheap commercial dog foods found on grocery store shelves can actually cause more harm than good over the years. To help you make a better, informed choice, be sure to read ingredient labels, compare dog food brands, and do further research on this important topic. Your dog will love you for it.
Rose Smith is the author and owner of Caring For Canines, a web site that provides information on natural dog health care. To learn more about dog nutrition, please visit us at: http://www.caringforcanines.com/canine-nutrition.shtml
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