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Understanding How to Feed Your Dog from Puppyhood Through the Senior Years

Dogs offer unconditional love without asking for much in return – except the finest foods and treats, that is. To give back to your dog, you can offer the most nutritious and delicious foods designed to meet the requirements of each life stage. By providing a balanced diet each day, you help protect your dog from obesity, malnutrition and other serious health problems. You can improve your dog’s meal plan by understanding the best feeding practices, including ideal daily intake amounts, for large and small canines alike. Use our guide to get started on your journey toward improved wellness for your furry friend.

Best Practices For Feeding Dogs Through Every Life Stage

From puppyhood to the senior years, dogs have changing dietary needs to best support their growth and wellness. Your dog will benefit from eating the right dog food formulas in the correct quantities.


Puppies go through many growth spurts to reach their adult size in one to three years, depending on the breed. The rapid rate of growth demands extra energy, which is fueled by the food you choose and amount you feed. To support the growth of your pup, you should choose the highest quality puppy food your budget will allow. The food should have meat products as the first ingredients and preferably be free of all grains.

Adult Dogs

The switch from puppy food to adult food should occur once your dog reaches one year of age. Adult dog food formulas have fewer calories and less protein to provide the right balance of nutrients for this life stage. You can give extra treats as you deem fit to compensate for high activity levels, such as while completing obedience or agility routines. If you have a picky eater, consider mixing kibble with wet food to encourage healthy eating patterns.


The health and activity levels of your senior dog will play a role in determining the best food to provide each day. If your dog has dental or gastric health issues, for example, you may need to make the switch from kibble to wet food. Purchase senior formula foods to account for the difference in nutrient requirements for this life stage. Do not overfeed your senior dogs or give too many treats, as decreased activity levels increase the risk of obesity.

How to Determine Ideal Daily Food Intake for Your Dog

You will need to consider the age and activity level of your dog to determine the correct amount to feed each day. Through their growth spurts, puppies eat up to three times the amount needed to maintain their weight. Adult dogs, on the other hand, should eat enough calories to maintain their weight at their current activity levels. Senior dogs may show varied daily food intake amounts, depending on their health and energy expenditure levels.

As activity levels change, so should the amount you feed your dog. Working dogs, in particular, need to receive extra food to accommodate for the extra energy used to complete their required tasks. An emotional support animal, for example, works hard all day to help stabilize and protect their owners suffering from symptoms caused by mental health disorders. Therefore, these dogs could use an increase in food or treats during particularly demanding workdays.

Small Versus Large Breed Dog Dietary Considerations

Since small and large breed dogs grow at different rates through puppyhood, their dietary needs differ considerably. Large breed dogs often require a specialized puppy food that is lower in calories and protein than ordinary formulas. The decreased nutrient levels keep growth rates in check to prevent bone and joint issues in the future. Small breed dogs can usually eat a normal puppy formula, though you should pay close attention to kibble size to prevent intake issues.

Preparing Your Dog’s Daily Meal Plan for Home, Daycare and Boarding

Once you have a good grasp on the dietary needs of your dog, you can use the information to create a comprehensive daily meal plan for home, daycare and boarding. Remember to either reward from the bowl with hand feeding practices or replace regular food with treats to keep your dog’s calorie intake in the correct range. You can provide your detailed meal plan to Paradise Pet Resorts when boarding your dog to ensure your pet receives adequate nutrients while you are away.

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