Caring for your dog through every life stage

Caring for your dog through every life stage


Posted 22nd May 2018


As a society, we’re living longer. In fact, ten million Britons alive today can expect to reach their 100th birthday, compared with just 15,000 centenarians at present[1]. To help us reach our full life potential we should adjust our diet and lifestyle, this way we’re more likely to enjoy a long and healthy life – and the same rule applies to our canine companions.

To help our dogs get the most out of life we need to provide them with tailored support and care at every life stage, which we do through exercise, sleep, love and care and of course a healthy diet.

Fortunately, Kellie Ceccarelli, EUKANUBA’s Veterinary Training Manager and Veterinary Nurse, has some simple steps to help you provide the best care for your dog at every life stage.

Support their nutritional needs

As babies, children and adult’s nutritional needs vary so too will your dog’s dietary life stage needs.

For instance, in the first 12 months of a puppy’s life, the need for a diet rich in high-quality animal protein, such as chicken to help support growth, is incredibly important and while high quality animal protein is necessary for all life stages the higher level required during puppyhood is only eclipsed during that very special time when a mother feeds her pups.  In addition to this a puppy’s immune and digestive systems are also developing and so a focus on supplying nutrients to help support these, such as antioxidants to support the immune system and healthy fibers such as Beet Pulp and prebiotics for digestion are needed. 

As larger and giant breed puppies develop from puppyhood to their adult years they enter a Junior phase, this is between 12-18 months for large breeds and 14-24 months for giant breeds. A diet specifically designed to help smoothly transition these larger puppies through the Junior phase and into adulthood will help to safely support body condition development. This is an important consideration for large breeds which are more prone to developing joint issues.

Fast forward to the mature years and you’ll notice that very often our more Mature dogs have an increased tendency to gain more body fat. Because of this these dogs often benefit from a lower fat diet, as well as a nutrient called L-carnitine, which acts as a natural fat burner, to help support a leaner body condition. 

In complete contrast our older Senior dogs (on average 9+ years), can begin to lose body condition as muscle and body fat stores can begin to decline. As with humans, older dogs can develop something called Sarcopenia. This is a common condition in older dogs which basically means the gradual loss of muscle mass & strength. Very often these older dogs will look like they are shrinking and a typical sign of this is the head shape which becomes ‘pointy’ and the back legs may begin to look less muscular. If they are clinically healthy these Senior dogs will often benefit from a diet containing increased levels of high quality animal protein to help prevent these losses. While this can be quite normal in many healthy older dogs if muscle wasting is something you’ve noticed in your dog please do seek veterinary advice.

Tailor activity levels

Regular exercise is hugely important, not only for the body but for your dog’s mind too.  Daily exercise can help to keep your dog at a healthy weight which helps to reduce stress on joints, but it’s important to adapt your pet’s exercise levels to meet their life stage, body condition and breed requirements.

While young dogs have seemingly boundless energy, their joints and muscles are still developing, so it’s important that they are not over-exercised, as this can cause problems later in life. As a rule, adult dogs should enjoy between 30 minutes to two hours of activity every day. Working or hunting dogs, such as Hounds, Collies or Labrador Retrievers, will need the most exercise, whereas 30 minutes to one hour should be enough to keep smaller breeds and older pets in check.

If you are unsure how much exercise your dog requires, ask your vet for advice. Along with an overall health assessment, your vet can recommend an exercise plan appropriate for your pet’s lifestyle.

Ensure your dog is getting enough sleep

Just like with humans, a dog’s sleep pattern will vary throughout their life. Most adult dogs will take a nap after a long walk but will generally be active and awake while you are home. Working dogs, on the other hand, such as police or rescue dogs, will often go the whole day without sleeping. As your dog ages and health conditions, such as arthritis or hip dysplasia manifest, they may slow down and require more rest. Keep this in mind especially if your older dog seems to be sleeping more, it might be more than just their eyelids they’re resting it could be sore joints too.

As a rule of thumb, dogs need the following amount of sleep to stay happy and healthy[2]:

- Puppies: 12 – 18 hours a day

- Adult dogs: 14 hours a day

- Large adult dogs: Up to 18 hours a day

- Senior dogs: 18+ hours a day (depending on health and overall condition)

Finally, remember that the relationship you enjoy with your dog is a two-way street! The more love and care you give, the more you get back. By spending lots of quality time together, through training and exercise or even grooming your pet, you can help to strengthen the bond between you, enabling you and your companion to live life well together.

Information courtesy of Eukanuba

[1] Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
[2] Canna Pet – The importance of sleep in pets: Helping your pet get a good night’s rest - https://canna-pet.com/importance-sleep-pets-2/





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