Feeding Pets Through Life: New Arrivals to Senior Citizens
As most people who have welcomed a young pet into their home will
agree, they are full of enthusiasm and energy, so it probably comes as
no surprise to learn that puppies and kittens have different and more
demanding nutritional needs compared with adults. Perhaps
unsurprisingly, senior pets may also benefit from some dietary changes
in their golden years, depending on their health and lifestyle.
Rapidly growing pups and kittens require considerably more energy
(calories) as an adult of the same size, along with requiring relatively
greater levels of some of the major nutrients including protein and
minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus (along with vitamin A in growing
cats) to help support their rapid growth of muscles, organs, bones and
teeth. To meet these demanding nutritional needs, it is important to
provide them with foods that are highly palatable, concentrated and
formulated to provide them with all the calories and nutrients they
Fortunately, feeding these young growing pets is really quite
straightforward - simply choose good quality prepared puppy or kitten
foods, that have been specially formulated to provide all the nutrition
that they require and you are well on the way. There is a wide range of
food types, varieties, flavours and textures to choose from and prepared
pet foods are convenient to use. In light of the demanding nutritional
needs of puppies and kittens it's generally recommended to feed several
small meals a day and their food should be tasty and easily digested so
that they get the full benefit from their food, with minimum mess. Don't
forget to provide clean drinking water.
While the puppy or kitten is still growing, it is recommended to continue
feeding a food designed for growing animals. As the pet matures and
approaches their adult body weight you can move them over to adult foods.
Sudden changes in food can sometimes cause some digestive upsets, so it is
a good idea to make this change gradually, blending the foods over a period
of a week or so, to minimise stress and mess for all involved. Particularly
in the case of dogs, many owners prefer to provide the adult dog with only
one meal per day.
Feeding the grown-ups
Feeding adult dogs and cats is straightforward for many owners. Simply by
choosing to feed your adult dog or cat one (or perhaps a mix) of the many
quality, prepared pet food that are formulated to provide complete
nutrition for adult pets, you can be fully confident that your pet is
receiving all the nutrition that it needs for an active and healthy life.
Further information about choosing the right food for your pet is provided
in this series of "infobite" articles available on the PFIAA website.
Meeting the needs of senior citizens
Studies of geriatric dogs have shown that many retain their ability to
digest the major essential nutrients (protein, fat and energy) from food
well into their golden years; so many owners choose to continue feeding
their older pet on their regular "adult" foods. However, like ourselves,
many older animals do take life at a slower pace, reducing their calorie
requirements and so modifications to the diet may well be beneficial for
some older pets, particularly in regards to limiting calories to help them
avoid becoming overweight.
Older pets which are apparently healthy should have diets based on their
individual needs, which will be influenced by their bodyweight, condition
and physical activity. There are a variety of prepared pet foods made just
for senior pets and your veterinarian can provide further advice about care
and feeding of your older pet. Dogs and cats with age-related medical
conditions may benefit from special veterinary diets designed for the
management of their particular medical condition and pet owners are
encouraged to have regular veterinary check-ups for their older pets to
ensure they are provided with appropriate care in their golden years.
This article is for general information only:
This information is provided by the PFIAA as general information only. For
advice and information concerning feeding your individual pet, we recommend
that you seek the advice of your veterinarian.