This is a great question that all pet parents should be asking. There is never a wrong time to consider the quality and quantity of food that you feed your dog, but as purveyors of exceptional pet food, we’re partial to starting your dog on their ideal meal plan from the very start!
Why is that? Because feeding your dog their ideal diet can have a tremendous impact on their health and overall longevity. It makes sense that, even as humans, we each have unique dietary needs. Much of this comes from things like our genetic makeup, our lifestyle and even environmental factors. For dogs, the same holds true and they may require certain dietary changes for common issues, such as obesity, dry and itchy skin, feeling lethargic, urinary stones and more! The most common way for pet parents to consider which food is best for their growing puppy or adult dog is to consider factors such as the dog’s breed, current weight, expected weight and issues that present themselves early on.
It’s only more recently that companies have begun to consider the dietary needs of our pets, yet still so many underwhelm the true needs of your growing puppy or adult dog. Being able to read the label is one of the most empowering stances you can take for your dog’s overall vitality. So, education is one of our top priorities at Health Extension as our community begins to learn more about the dietary needs and restrictions of their pet’s.
Your pet’s food is formulated to deliver the following overall nutritional goals:
- Provide Energy
- Skin Health
- Coat Health
- Healthy Digestion
- Immune System Functionality
- Musculoskeletal Health
In general, all dogs need foods in a proper ratio that meets these needs. What varies is the proportion, typically dependent on their overall size and some breed-specific predispositions. Every dog needs a blend of protein, fat, carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals in their diet.
As a general rule of thumb, you should be ensuring that your dog’s food contains the following percentage of nutrients:
- 5% fiber
- 15%-30% protein
- 10%-30% fat
But as we said, the ideal ratio is going to be unique to your dog’s current size and weight, expected size and weight, breed and distinct needs that may present themselves as your dog matures. Here is a general guideline for your small, medium and large-sized breed.
Toy & Small Breeds
Toy and small breed puppies require relatively fat-dense foods while they are young. This is due to their high metabolic rate, which plows through calories much faster than their large-breed brothers. As with most puppies, it’s also best to feed your toy and small dog multiple meals per day so they can have quality calories throughout the day and prevent overeating. Sometimes small breeds can be picky eaters, so it’s important to find palatable options.
Toy and small breed puppies require about 35-40 calories per day, per pound. So, a 10-pound dog needs 400 calories daily. Larger dogs need less calories per pound because the larger your dog, the slower their metabolism. Preventing weight gain and obesity is the goal when feeding larger breed dogs. But for small dogs, they maintain less fat storages, and have high metabolisms. As such, the smaller dog breeds require the largest number of calories per pound.
One of the susceptibilities of toy breed puppies, and even some small breed puppies, is a dip in their sugar levels. We recommend keeping a bottle of Stress Relief on hand if you notice any lethargy or tremors, as it can be a sign of low blood sugar. This is usually only present in puppyhood, so be wary of this predisposition in the first 6 months of your puppy’s growth cycle. By the time they are 6-12 months, they will likely reach their adult weight and size. You can purchase our Stress Relief drops here.
All dogs require protein, and the best source is from a whole food source. When reading labels, make sure to avoid any “ambiguous” ingredients such as “Meat”, which does not explain the source of the protein. Ingredients such as whole chicken, chicken meal, lamb, fish, and beef are most ideal if your dog will be having a protein-based diet.
Fat is also important in your small-breed dogs’ diet. The best source of fat comes from omega-6 and omega-3’s in a ratio somewhere between 10:1 and 5:1. It is typically found in fish products and is considered a more suitable form of fat versus plant-based fats, but if you prefer plant-based nutrients, look for products that contain flax seed or flax seed oil.
Carbohydrates such as rice, oats, and barley are excellent grain alternatives to corn, wheat and soy, which can stimulate allergic reactions in some dogs. Carbohydrate ingredients to avoid include corn gluten, wheat gluten and rice protein concentrate. It’s always a good idea to notice the order of the ingredients, as the first ingredients make up the bulk of the product. Be mindful of filler ingredients that, while they may not look “harmful”, could be providing less overall benefit for your dog’s health than other options.
Of course, just like human food, we should avoid products that contain artificial colors and preservatives. Not sure what these might be? Here is a quick guide to some of the most commonly used preservatives in dog food:
- Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- Tert-Butyl Hydroquinone (TBHQ)
- Propyl Gallate
Instead, look for foods that use natural preservative such as mixed tocopherols (vitamin E, Rosemary Extract) and vitamin C.
From a supplementation standpoint, small breed dogs can benefit from nutrients that help prevent diseases more common to their size, which include Cancer, Arthritis, Heart Disease, Diabetes, Urinary Bladder Stones, Kidney Disease, and Cruciate Ligament Injury. Prevention is a wonderful philosophy – but always be cautious and educated about what you are feeding your best-fur-friend.
To shop our range of dog supplements, click here.
Medium breeds make up a large proportion of all dogs, ranging somewhere in the 20-60 Lb. weight category as adults. Depending on their pedigree, some medium breed dogs can grow quickly through puppyhood, which makes them susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia, as well as arthritis later in life. It’s important to be mindful of your medium breeds food intake as a puppy because of their predisposition for these conditions, many of which are initiated during their first few months and years of growth. But do your research, as all breeds have different predispositions and growth patterns.
As a pet parent, your goal is to feed your growing medium breed puppy in a way that prevents any excess weight gain as they grow naturally into their adult size. In general, we suggest you serve your medium breed puppy small meals to start, and slowly increase their meal size and decrease the duration as they grow, remaining consistent with the caloric intake ideal for their current weight. For medium sized dogs, they should consume between 25-30 calories per pound, per day. So, for a 40-pound dog, that’s about 1,000 calories per day.
Always be mindful of the overall fat content in your medium breeds dog food, but be equally diligent about their calcium intake. Calcium levels are important for the larger of the medium breed dogs, but ingesting to much (or too little) might lead to bone issues, surprisingly. An amount of about 1.2% calcium is good for your medium breed dog.
As mentioned, the goal during your medium breeds puppy years is to prevent excess weight gain, which puts pressure on the musculoskeletal system of your dog, leading to certain conditions and diseases. You can be diligent about the nutritional content of their food, which should have a proper ratio of fat content, protein, carbohydrates and fiber.
Some added nutrients and supplements that may help prevent musculoskeletal conditions include Glucosamine, Chondroitin, Green-Lipped Mussels and SAM-e. Investing in a range of supplements that are specifically designed to meet your dog’s breed is a great alternative to trying to find a food that imparts all of these things. At Health Extension, we have a comprehensive, all-natural daily supplement that we recommend to most pet parents. To shop our Lifetime Multivitamin, visit this page.
The best dog foods will also prevent bloating, which to us doesn’t sound too harmful, but can be deadly for your dog. Ways to avoid bloating foods include purchasing high-quality products, foods that do not have fat within first few ingredient and larger kibble sized dry foods. You can also help prevent bloating by presoaking dry food with water, and consider using a slow-feed bowl.
Large and Giant Breeds
First things first – when feeding your large or giant breed dog, know that there are less overall options on the market for your puppy or adult large breed dog. This makes it even more important for you to be considerate of the ingredients served in your large breeds dog food, and diligent about their caloric intake, as these pedigrees can be anywhere from 70-180 pounds.
Large and Giant breed dogs need about half the calories per pound, per day than toy and small breeds require. That’s about 20 calories per pound. Therefore, a 100-pound dog requires about 2,000 calories per day.
Large and Giant breed dogs do have developmental predispositions, such as Orthopedic Diseases (DOD) including Osteochondrosis and Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD). Maintaining an ideal diet for their size and structure will help prevent these issues from occurring. Potentially the most important factor is calcium intake.
That’s right – calcium content in key! Too little or too much calcium in their diet can lead to bone disease. Other predispositions include Panosteitis (pano) and Hypertrophic Osteodrystrophy (HOD).
Bone and joint problems appear to be the result of excess minerals or mineral imbalances, or even too much caloric intake, as well as obesity and incorrect calcium levels. Calcium levels should be 1.5%. The calcium-to-phosphorus ration should be between 1:1 and 1.3:1 for large and giant breed puppies.
Some supplements to consider looking for in your large and giant breeds dog food include glucosamine, chondroitin, green-lipped mussels and SAM-e – which helps prevent bone and joint issues. Our Joint Mobility daily supplement is a great, all-natural product that delivers the most bio-available nutrients for joint health to your dog during their meal. Shop our Joint Mobility supplement, visit this page.
Portion control is also vitally important; and be mindful that it may take between 2-4 years for your large or giant breed puppy to reach their adult size and weight.
As with all large breed dogs, be mindful about the threat of bloating. Bloat can cause the stomach to twist and cut off the blood supply. To avoid bloating altogether, try to choose foods that DON’T list oils within the first few ingredients, and help your dog eat slower by purchasing larger kibble sized formulas. Other strategies include utilizing a slow feed bowl and serving smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day to reach their ideal caloric intake. You can also gently soak the kibble to start the expansion process in the bowl instead of the belly.
But no matter what breed or pedigree your dog is, the most important thing to remember about their food and nutrition is to choose products that are optimal for their overall health and vitality. That’s why Health Extension was born nearly 6 decades ago: to bring whole-ingredient, organic, wholesome foods to pets around the world.
Our recipes start with USDA inspected fresh meats. We then add handpicked, non-GMO fruits and veggies like carrots and blueberries that are responsibly sourced. From there, we build each recipe with beneficial ingredients like Coconut Oil to enhance whole body health. What else?
- We start with thoughtfully selected ingredients, none of which are China-sourced.
- We never use artificial colors, flavors or preservatives.
- We source only GMO-Free ingredients.
- We never use wheat, gluten, corn, soy or by-products.
- We prepare every bag in small batches.
- We continually improve our food safety programs, testing every single batch.
- We make our products in the USA.
To shop our range of all-natural, organic, sustainably sourced dog foods, visit: https://www.myhealthextension.com/collections/dry-dog-food