Once your puppy has reached adulthood, around twelve to eighteen months depending on the breed, his nutritional needs change. The extra nutrients and calories he used for growth as a puppy are no longer necessary. In fact, the excess nutrients in puppy food could cause obesity in an adult dog. At this stage in his life your dog needs a maintenance diet.
The maintenance diet
As you consider what to include in your dog’s diet, keep the following in mind.
Choose a dog food based on activity and stress levels
Most maintenance diets or adult dog foods are fine for stress-free house pets. However, if your dog is exposed to more stresses than life on the couch and a regular walk, his nutritional requirements will be higher. Some examples include:
- Dogs kept outside in cold weather
- Dogs that get a lot of exercise
- Dogs that are sick or recovering from surgery
- Dogs that are just switching from puppy to adult food
If your dog fits any of these descriptions, he’ll need more nutrients than a basic maintenance diet can give him. Be sure to consult your veterinarian for dietary advice in these special situations.
Nutrition levels should be slightly above minimum requirements
A basic maintenance dog diet should provide enough nutrients to exceed the minimum daily requirements. Remember, minimum requirements are just enough to keep your dog healthy. By giving him a bit more than the recommended daily allowance you make sure he doesn’t suffer any nutritional deficiencies. The dog food you choose should state on the label that it has been tested in accordance with the standards of the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) or the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) if you live in Canada.
Tips for choosing dog food
Keep the following tips in mind as you shop for a commercial dog food that meets your adult dog’s maintenance needs.
Don’t pick a dog food based on protein content alone
It’s the quality of the protein that’s important, not the quantity. Poultry, meat, or fish meals as well as milk by-products, liver, and eggs are generally good sources of protein. Remember, protein is only one component of your dog’s basic nutritional requirements. You need to find a dog food that provides a well-balanced diet that your dog can digest.
Don’t choose a food based on price alone
Your dog needs balanced nutrition in a form that he can digest, and price has little to do with these requirements. Also, super-premium dog foods tend to provide a lot more nutrition than a maintenance diet calls for, which can lead to obesity. You need a food that meets your particular dog’s needs, and that may not be the most expensive bag or can.
Choosing the right dog food for your pet is an important decision. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for recommendations.