Frequent What does it mean all life stages dog food? The Ultimate Guide

Buy all life stages dog food online in Canada from Canadian Pet Connection” width=”172″ height=”192″ />Buy All Life Stages dog food online from our warehouse in Canada. All Life Stages dog food is specifically designed to meet and exceed the nutritional needs of dogs that are all ages, sizes and breeds. This is a common trend in the marketplace, as we see shifts away from age specific pet foods. All Life Stages dog foods are a safe and healthy option for dogs from puppy, all the way up to senior dogs!

Diets that are designed for all life stages meet the nutritional requirements for both growth and reproduction as well as maintenance diets.

Since these kinds of diets are complete and balanced for any life stage, you can feed them to pets of any age.

One caveat: Because these foods tend to be higher in calories, they may be just fine for the energetic Weimaraner that’s wearing a racetrack in your lawn. But if your pet spends more time beached on the couch, you might want to reduce the amount of your pet’s daily food intake.

Of course, many older pets may be less active, so they may not need as many calories as a growing puppy or kitten. In those cases, simply reduce the amount fed each day. If this amount becomes significantly less than the amount recommended in the feeding guide, then a transition should be made to a lower calorie formula. And if your older pet has a health condition, such as kidney disease, your veterinarian may recommend a specific dietary therapy to help slow the progression of disease.

But for healthy pets, a diet for all life stages just might make your trip down the pet food aisle that much easier.

Dogs Association of Animal Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) statement on a dog food label verifies that the food provides complete and balanced nutrition for either:

Today, many pet food manufacturers offer lifestage foods for pets. They often tout the benefits of their foods for puppies and kittens, adults or seniors and how these foods are perfectly balanced for each of these lifestages.

The “one size fits all” pet food philosophy may sound attractive, but it goes against everything Hills has learned in more than 60 years of clinical nutrition research. A food thats appropriate for growth will contain levels of fat, sodium, protein and other nutrients that are too high for the older pet. Likewise, a food that contains reduced levels of nutrients for older pets may be inadequate for growing puppies and kittens.

Hills Science Diet brand is committed to the lifestage concept. You will not find the words “… for all lifestages” on any Hills Science Diet product.

In the early stages of life, young pets need high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to ensure proper growth.

Life Stage Pet Nutrition | Improve Their Lifespan | Dr. Bill’s Pet Nutrition

It was considered a breakthrough in nutrition when it was discovered that dogs have different nutritional needs as they mature and grow. Puppies have very different needs than seniors and a working farm dog will have wildly different needs than a couch potato city dog. With so many options, its important to be feeding your individual woofer for their specific life stage. Improperly feeding the wrong type of food can prevent your dog from getting their optimal nutritional needs met, and can suffer problems in the long run.

First, lets take about what it means to feed an “all life stages” diet. These are marketed to be fed to any dog, of any breed and stage of life. Seems to good to be true right? Well, kind of. You may have never noticed this statement on your dogs food, because its often in very small print, but its crucial to understand this concept.

The basic life stages recognized by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials), the organization that sets the standards used by US pet food manufacturers, are Adult Maintenance, and Growth/Reproduction. The latter includes everything that isnt simple adult maintenance: gestation (pregnancy), lactation (nursing) and growth (puppies). Foods can be labeled for one or more of these stages. A food labeled for “all life stages” must meet the more stringent nutritional requirements for growth and reproduction. So essentially, “all life stage” diets are puppy formulas.

This news is fine if you are feeding a dog at or under one year of age, but if you are feeding an adult (1-7 years of age) than this can mean they are getting more or less of some important and crucial nutrients.

Some of the major differences between feeding puppies vs adults and growth/reproduction formulas vs adult formulas:

This means they are burning more calories in their internal furnaces, to offset the body heat that they continually radiate into the environment. This means puppies need more calories per pound of body weight than non-pregnant, non-lactating adults do.

Puppies also grow quickly and they complete the bulk of their growth in the first two or three years of life. This growth requires different resources than maintaining as an adult does. Specifically, it means that puppies require more amino acids – the building blocks of proteins – than adults do. As an example, arginine is an essential amino acid for puppies, but it is only conditionally essential for adult dogs.

All life stage diets will have higher levels of protein, fat, calcium and phosphorous in comparison to adult foods, to support a young dog’s rapid growth and development.

The minimum protein level for AAFCO approved adult dog food is 18%, and the minimum protein in puppy food is 22%. Most higher end commercial diets for all life stages will contain around 30% protein, as you can tell, this percentage can be too high for some adult dogs. Adults can certainly tolerate the higher protein levels of puppy food, but it may lead to weight gain, due to the higher amount of protein calories.

Fats are a primary source of energy (calories) in dog food, and are extremely important in growth and reproduction. The overall levels of fat, and the essential fatty acid alpha linoleic acid, are higher for growth and reproduction in dogs than they are for adult maintenance.

Fat contributes greatly to the energy density of a food; however, excessive fat in the diet can cause obesity for adult dogs eating an “all life stages” diet. The minimum recommended allowance of dietary fat for puppies (8.5% Dry Matter) is more than is needed for adult maintenance (5.5% Dry Matter).

The micro profiles are different for puppies and comparison to adults, which can lead to exceeding or missing your dogs specific requirement. Mainly calcium, which is crucial for growing woofers. Excess calcium can cause serious growth problems in large-breed puppies (which we will talk about in a minute!).

For example, the recommended allowance for Calcium in adult dogs is 0.50g (per 1000kcal) while for puppies, it is 2.0g (per 1000kcal).

Large breed dogs are at high risk for developmental orthopedic diseases (e.g., hip dysplasia). In comparison to “regular” puppy/all life stage formulations, large breed puppy foods have a lower fat content (between 8% and 12% on a dry matter basis, while standard puppy foods often contain between 10% and 25% fat), slightly lower levels of calcium and phosphorous, with a very carefully balanced ratio to maintain a healthy rate of growth. This is why it is especially important that you feed a diet specific to large breeds if that is what you have!

Now that you understand the major differences between a growth and reproduction diet and an adult maintenance diet and the different needs of pups vs adults, I hope you are able to understand the pros and cons of feeding an “all life stage diet” to your adult woofer!

Most commercial diets geared towards adult dogs are a great fit for the average healthy adult dogs. Adult diets should be geared towards dogs from 1 year to around 6 years of age. Pay attention to the specific protein, fat and carbohydrate content of your food and watch for signs of excess or deficiency.

Providing the right amount of energy from the right sources is crucial to feeding working and sporting dogs. These dogs burn large amounts of daily calories and require much more than the average woofer. These dogs might work on the farm herding animals, or partake in a lot of agility, flyball, shutzhund, bird hunting, etc.

Energy for exercise comes from three nutrients: fat, carbohydrate and protein, and the need for these nutrients increases with the intensity of the work.

When it comes to feeding working dogs, it’s important to find dog food that can provide your dog with adequate energy and is high in calories because working dogs can require up to 2-5 times the energy of non-working dogs. This means finding food that is high in fat and protein to meet those needs. Sporting diets should also contain increased Glucoasmine and Chondroitin for extra joint protection.

We all tend to dread this stage, when our beloved woofers are turning a little grey and maybe starting to move a little slower. Most dogs are classified as “Mature” starting around the age of 7 (this will be lower for larger breeds) and this is when we need to start considering what type of nutritional changes we need to make in their diet to keep it optimal for their specific aging needs. My girl, Marley, recently hit her 7 year milestone this past year and its made me think hard about what we need to offer our seniors.

More than 35% of dogs in the U.S. are at least seven years old (SACN Chapter 14) and many of them arent getting the changes made to their diet that they need in order to thrive in their golden years!

“The overall feeding goals for mature adult dogs are to optimize quality and longevity of life and minimize disease. To understand the specific nutritional needs of mature dogs, it is necessary to know the major effects of aging on canine body systems. Aging is characterized by progressive and, usually, irreversible change (Mosier, 1988), and its rate and manifestations are determined by intrinsic and extrinsic factors, one of which is nutrition. Because aging is progressive, the point in time at which a food change should be made is arbitrary, and in a way philosophical.” (SACN Chapter 14)

It is at this life stage that dogs tend to start putting on extra weight more easily, and start to develop age related conditions such as arthritis.

“The only nutritional modification known to slow aging and increase the lifespan consistently in multiple species is caloric restriction. Reducing caloric intake by 20 to 30% of normal, while meeting essential nutrient needs, slows the aging process and reduces the risk for cancer, renal disease, arthritis and immune-mediated diseases in several animal models (Sheffy and Williams, 1981; Kealy et al, 2002).” (SACN Chapter 14)

A relatively low fat intake helps prevent obesity in healthy mature dogs. However, Very old dogs may have a tendency to lose weight and for these dogs, increasing the fat content of the food increases energy intake and can help them maintain their weight. Its all about finding out what works for your individual dog. Some dogs may need less protein around age 8, but require more protein at 13 because they are losing weight. “Generally, fat levels between 7 and 15% Dry Matter are recommended for most mature dogs. Fat levels for obese-prone dogs should be between 7 to 10%.” (SACN Chapter 14)

Mature dogs are very prone to constipation which means we need to look at increasing fiber intake. Adding healthy veggies to your woofers diet will help keep things moving along properly as they age. The recommended levels of crude fiber in foods intended for mature dogs are at least 2% (Dry Matter). (SACN Chapter 14)

Protein requirements for the aging dog is quite controversial and it can be confusing when youre trying to decide whats best for your dog. As they age, they develop a decrease in lean body mass. The protein stores of a senior dog turn over more rapidly than in younger dogs. Extra protein supplies amino acids that help make up for that loss, and these keep aging pups stronger and more mobile. Due to this, most believe that senior dogs have a higher requirement for protein.

On the other side of the debate, some believer we need to restrict protein in seniors due to risk of kidney disease. Phosphorus content tends to increase with the amount of protein, and it is recommended that you find ways to reduce phosphorus intake in senior dogs with kidney disease. Once the disease reaches a certain stage, restricting phosphorus becomes important to prevent its progression. It remains controversial as to whether or not protein needs to be restricted in these dogs. Though it should be noted that higher-protein diets have never been linked to a higher likelihood of developing kidney disease in dogs.

As dogs age they become more susceptible to age related diseases such as kidney disease. We need to look at restricting these levels in order to keep our woofers renal system working properly as they age.

“Researchers have observed that dogs with advanced renal disease had slowed progression and reduced severity of renal disease when phosphorus levels in foods were decreased, thereby improving survival time (Brown et al, 1991; Finco et al, 1992; Lopez-Hilker et al, 1990). The minimum recommended dry matter allowance of phosphorus for foods for adult dogs is 0.3% (NRC, 2006). Therefore, foods for mature dogs should contain 0.3 to 0.7% Dry Matter phosphorus.” (SACN Chapter 14)

Senior dogs are more susceptible to digestion-related conditions (like a food allergy, inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, or pancreatitis) that could require specific dietary changes. Adding a quality pre and probiotic and digestive enzymes (I recommended the Adored Beast line) can help keep your dogs microbiome and entire digestive tract working at an optimal level and prevent digestive changes as they age.

Like us, dogs get stiff with age. Sore joints can be extra aggravated by cold weather and exercise and can become a big problem for many of our seniors. The best thing you can do in regards to joint health is be proactive on prevention. Dont wait to supplement for joint health when your woofer is already showing signs of being sore. There are many great nutritional ways to help ease joint pain and prevent joint issues from arising through Green Lipped Mussel Powder (see the brand I use here) and other healthy Omega 3 sources such as Fish oil or Hemp oil. If feeding a high quality diet geared towards seniors, it should also contain extra Glucosamine and Chondroitin, but you can supplement with these on your own as well if needed.

Those of us that are lucky enough to have our woofers reach this stage (10-14+years depending on breed), it is just as important as it has always been that they eat a balanced diet catered to their individual needs. But, that being said, after theyve lived a long life due to the optimal nutrition youve worked so hard to provide, let them have a chicken nugget or a plain cheese burger. Let them have birthday cake and trips for ice cream and give them all the smelliest treats. Let them have whatever they want (with some exceptions) because theyve earned it