Throughout his life, your faithful companion will go through several physical and behavioral transitions. Each of them will correspond to a particular stage in their life and will often require that their diet be adjusted. From weaning to old age, your dog’s nutritional needs will constantly change depending on several factors, including breed, activity level, precise stage of growth, environment, and possible sterilization.
There are many pleasures you will share together, such as the first time you and your puppy go for a walk in the neighborhood. And, let’s be frank, there will be some frustrations, for example when you weren’t happy to see that he chewed on your favorite shoes very enthusiastically. However, with the exception of your shoes, these tops and bottoms will strengthen the ever stronger bond you have with your dog.
One of the most important stages in your dog’s development is the transition from his youth to adulthood. You can help your dog to go through this transition peacefully while remaining in good health. For this you need to be aware of the physiological changes that are coming during this period as well as the changes you may need to make in the care you give your dog, especially in the area of his diet.
From a juvenile puppy to adulthood: what will happen?
The juvenile period begins at around 12 to 16 weeks of age and lasts until adulthood. By the juvenile period, your puppy will have gained full use of his senses (i.e., touch, taste, hearing, smell and sight). Around the age of 7 months, his baby teeth will generally be replaced by his adult teeth. They may also begin to behave very much like adolescents. He may, for example, challenge you, or challenge other dogs and will often momentarily forget all the good manners his mother then you taught him during the first 3 to 12 weeks of his life.
When does my puppy reach full size?
There are no specific rules in this area. Indeed, the end of your dog’s growth period depends mainly on his breed. Small and medium sized breeds reach their final adult size around the age of one (for dwarf breeds this may be earlier). Medium and large breed dogs reach full size between one year and 18 months, while giant breeds mature more slowly to reach full size at over 2 years of age.
The growth rate also varies depending on the size and breed of the dog. For example, a small dog will have achieved half of its growth at 4 months and three quarters of its growth at 6 months. By comparison, a large breed dog will likely have reached half of its final weight at 5 months and three-quarters at 9 months.
During the early stages of life, your puppy experiences strong growth, regardless of breed. So remember, no matter what size your dog will need enough calories to support this tremendous growth. Then, from six months, this very rapid growth rate tends to slow down, especially in very large dogs.
Remember that puppies are better off growing at a good rate rather than at the maximum rate. In other words, faster doesn’t necessarily mean better. Puppies that grow too fast are more likely to have skeletal problems or gain weight with associated health complications. So, if your puppy definitely needs plenty of food and often, be vigilant and don’t go overboard.
How Do I Know If My Dog Has Reached Adulthood?
It is important to distinguish between when your dog finishes growing and when he becomes an adult. When your dog will be considered an adult depends on a combination of factors, including sexual maturity and behavioral maturity.
While female dogs will reach sexual maturity between 6 and 15 months, dogs will generally reach sexual maturity between 8 and 10 months. Even if your dog shows an interest in female dogs, he will not be considered an adult for 10 months as he is still developing and growing.
Remember that neutering can take place before or after your dog is sexually mature. It is in your best interest to discuss the various sterilization options early on with your veterinarian. This will help you make the best decision for your dog. And while your dog may be sexually mature, he may not be behaviorally mature or “adult”.
My Puppy’s Nutritional Needs
The nutritional needs of your puppy are very different from those of an adult dog. As puppies grow very quickly, they have high energy requirements. Again, the exact numbers vary depending on the breed. However, by around eight weeks of age your puppy will be fully weaned and will need twice as much energy per pound of body weight as an adult dog.
At this wonderful stage, your puppy has a small stomach and will need 4 to 5 meals a day to be satisfied and to eat enough. However, by around 10 weeks of age as his growth slows down he will be able to increase to around 3 meals a day and at six months your dog can gradually start to eat 2 meals a day. Once your dog has reached adulthood, keep these two meals a day, adjusting the amounts if necessary.
How Often, How Much And What Should I Feed My Puppy?
Puppies not only need to eat proportionately and often more than adult dogs, but they also have specific nutritional needs. Puppies need a diet that is much richer in protein and fat with the right balance of vitamins and minerals including vitamins D and A, calcium and phosphorus. This diet will allow them to have healthy bones and teeth, strong natural defenses and great vitality. Unlike adults, puppies also need omega 3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid) for balanced development. Therefore, it is extremely important that once weaned your puppy has a diet specially formulated for puppies.
Switching From Puppy Food To Adult Food
With the arrival of adulthood, which as we have seen takes place between one and three years depending on the breed, it is essential to adapt your companion’s diet. This adaptation must take into account the slowing down of its growth and its possible changes in behavior. While an adult dog may enjoy playing even at an advanced age, it is natural that they will become calmer with age (this is true even for the most dynamic puppies).
Choose The Right Food
It is especially important to adapt the diet of your young adult dog if it has been sterilized. Spaying tends to slow a dog’s metabolism and stimulate their appetite. As a result, your dog may be less active and may have a physiologic tendency to gain weight. This is why you should try to monitor your dog’s calorie intake and weight as a first step. It is also often recommended to switch to foods specially formulated for sterilized dogs or low fat dog foods, less high in calories but still balanced. In any case, we recommend that you discuss this with your veterinarian. This is especially important if your dog is spayed and has not completed his growth phase. Your vet can advise you. He will tell you what kind of food your dog needs, how to vary the amounts according to his nutritional needs related to his growing period and the needs that change after sterilization.
Helping Your Adult Dog Stay In Shape
Your adult dog is not as active as it used to be. It is therefore all the more important to encourage him to exercise whenever possible. For example, you can take him for a walk more often and get him to play a lot. This will help strengthen your emotional bond with him while preventing him from gaining weight. Remember, if you need to keep your dog healthy and fit, it’s not just for cosmetic reasons. Too much weight gain can lead to other medical complications such as reduced mobility or even limited life expectancy.
Tips On How To Switch From Puppy Food To Adult Dog Food
In order to prevent digestion problems for your puppy, you should wean him from puppy food and gradually switch him to adult dog food. Over a 5 to 8 day period, try adding a small amount of adult dog food to their puppy food. Every other day add a larger proportion of adult dog food and within eight days your dog will likely have easily taken the plunge. While it is best to introduce a varied diet for your puppy during the early stages of his life, if you haven’t already, now might be the time to try – gradually of course. So that your puppy or young adult dog does not become too picky and to introduce him to new tastes that he may enjoy.
Each Food to the life stage
Adopting the right diet for your companion throughout the different stages of his life can seem like a complicated task. In fact, there is a lot of easily accessible information available to all dog lovers. Just be sure to use reliable sources of information from specialists and approved by the vet. Your dog’s food adjustment is important, but it is almost as crucial that you know when to make the adjustment and therefore when to seek advice or recommendations on the matter. So, follow your dog’s physical and behavioral evolutions as well as his needs to contribute to his well-being at all stages of his life.