Proper nutrition for every stage of your dog’s or cat’s life is vital to overall wellness. The benefits of providing a diet that matches the unique needs of your pet, accompanied by exercise and recommended wellness exams and nutritional counseling with your veterinarian, include:
- Weight and disease management
- Good muscle tone
- A strong immune system
- Ease of digestion
- A healthy skin and coat
Your pet ages more rapidly than you do; one year in your pet’s life equals five to seven human years. A lot can change with your pet’s health in that time, especially as your pet reaches the senior years.
The life stages of your pet, as categorized by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), are a framework for care. Stages, especially for dogs, depend on breed, size and age, but are defined as:
- Puppies & kittens – birth to reproductive maturity
- Junior – reproductively mature but still growing
- Adult – finished growing to end of maturity
- Senior – maturity to life expectancy
- Geriatric – beyond typical life expectancy
Nutritional needs change during your pet’s life due to growth and development, the aging process, and management of various medical conditions. The breed, size, energy level and environment of your pet are also factors in determining proper nutritional needs such as calorie intake and frequency of feeding.
The best way to determine the nutritional needs of your pet is to talk with your veterinarian. As an AAHA-accredited hospital, Doylestown Veterinary Hospital encourages the recommended wellness exams, including a nutritional assessment, depending on age and health of your pet to determine if a nutritional counseling program would be beneficial.
“There is an obesity crisis in adult pets, with excessive calorie intake being one facet of problem. Proper nutrition and annual exams are vital in preventing obesity and managing medical conditions. Food quality and nutrient content influence weight gain. Some pet foods are loaded with cheaper carbohydrates. Lower quality carbs are no better for our pets than they are for us. This is why consideration of proper nutrition and offering quality foods to your dog or cat, as early as possible, is important,” said Dr. Laura Weis.
Proper nutrition helps with weight management as well as conditions like allergies, dental health, urinary health and arthritis. Maintaining an optimal weight and keeping your pet fit improves longevity and reduces the occurrence of diabetes, kidney and liver disease, heart disease and joint inflammation and pain.
Choosing quality pet foods for your dog or cat during each nutritional stage is the first step in giving your pet a long, healthy life. Work closely with your pet’s veterinarian to learn more about the benefits of proper nutrition, exercise and ideal body condition.