Differences Between Dog and Puppy Nutrition

Puppy nutrition has different requirements that those of a grown dog. Puppies are going through a lot of development very quickly while dogs are just trying to maintain a proper weight and health level. This requires different types of food.

Puppy Nutritional Requirements

In the first few months of your puppy's life, he goes through many changes such as bone and joint development, cognitive development and brain growth, muscle development, internal organ growth and immune system development.

To meet these requirements, puppies need much more protein than adult dogs. Puppy food is formulated to include a higher protein count, but the quality of the protein is also important. Make sure the first three ingredients of the food you buy are protein sources, not "meat by-products" or any type of grain such as corn, wheat or white rice.

Just as with human children, calcium and phosphorus are important for bone and teeth growth and development. Omega fatty acids are also important. If these are not included in your puppy food, you can find Omega-3 capsules at any health food or grocery store.

Fats are also an important part of a puppy diet because they provide more energy and make the diet more palatable. Just make sure to feed your dog based on the average requirements, not maximum. An overweight puppy can experience health problems later in life.

Dog's stomachs are set up to attack foreign objects, so puppies that are fed only one protein or only one type of food will have trouble switching foods later in life. You should vary your food type and protein source when puppies are young, careful to change foods slowly.

Adult Dog Nutritional Requirements

Adult dogs have stopped growing and developing. Thus, they need fewer calories and a more balanced diet for maintaining healthy bones, muscles and internal organs rather than creating them. Puppies require 25 percent protein and 17 percent fat content in their food. Adult dogs require 18 percent protein and 9-15 percent fat, more if your dog participates in dog sports.

As such, protein levels and fat levels should be lower, but quality of protein is still important. Though you are overall looking for a lower percentage of protein, the first three ingredients in your food should still have quality protein.

Puppies will usually switch to their adult food between one and two years. Smaller breeds mature more quickly, so they may begin eating adult food around a year while a large breed may be closer to two years.

If your puppy is starting to put on weight, it may be time to switch to an adult food. You also might be overfeeding or feeding a food with too many fillers that your dog can't digest. These just turn to sugar in your dog's system.

Quality nutrition is important for your dog at all stages of life. However, it is even more important during your dog's first year as key development is taking place. Be sure to read dog food labels to ensure you are providing the proper amount of nutrition.