Nutrition For Your Healthy Dog


No one can say how long an individual dog will live. But he is your dog, your faithful friend and so you obviously want to have him with you as long as possible.

It has been recognised by Veterinary Surgeons for some time that nutrition can play an important part in maintaining your dog's health and vitality. Certain nutrient changes are needed throughout your dogs life, what is right for a puppy can be harmful to the older dog.

There are a number of specially formulated premium foods, which have been specially formulated, to ensure health growth and keep him healthy at each stage of his life. An example of the Veterinary formulated diets is the Royal Canin diet which we can advise you on at Abbey Vets. We will be able to give you the advice of the appropriate diet for your puppy or dog. For a long time Vets and nutritionist's have been recommending to feed a commercially produced food, especially a premium food rather than home made diets, which unless carefully formulated can be potentially harmful for your dog.

Puppies - click here for information on puppy care

As a general guide, puppies require more: calcium and phosphorus to help build strong bones; protein to help develop strong muscles, more calories for increased energy expenditure and fatty acids for a healthy coat, they need more of these than mature dogs do. It has also been shown that large breed puppies have different nutritional needs.

The Pregnant and Nursing Bitch

Should be fed a diet almost identical to the puppies diet as she is providing so much of the nourishment for the pups at this time, energy rich formulation will help to maintain her own body weight.

The Adult Dog

Control of excessive nutrients is vital for an adult dog, so reducing the levels of nutrients than those of a puppy is vital. Carefully controlled levels of essential fatty acids for a healthy glossy coat, high-quality protein to maintain muscles, and sensible levels of calcium and phosphorus for strong bones and teeth. Excess levels of sodium and phosphorus should be avoided.

The Less Active or Weight Prone Dog

Being overweight puts potentially dangerous stress on every bone, muscle and organ, including the heart in your dog's body.

A specially formulated fibre rich, calorie reduced diet is essential to help prevent obesity in some dogs. Some breeds are genetically predisposed to becoming overweight, and some neutered animals are also at risk from becoming obese.

Feeding an appropriate 'light' diet will help your dog to feel full and satisfied and reduce the intake of calories at the same time, this will keep your dog, happy and healthy and stop you from feeding guilty about reducing the quantity of foods given. The other benefit is it also maintains all of the other essential nutrients required by an adult dog.

For the Active or Nervous dog

Active working or nervous dogs need a diet rich in energy giving fats to keep them at the peek of fitness. A diet that provides a balance of all of the other nutrients for an adult dog whilst increasing the intake of calories is also useful for the nervous and finicky eater who may only eat a small amount.

The Senior/Older Dog - Click here for information about senior dog care


As dogs get older, the kidney function often declines. An excessive intake of phosphorus can lead to further kidney damage, and too much salt can contribute to higher blood pressure, which may make heart or kidney problems worse. A carefully controlled diet in all of these nutrients is required for the older dog, to help keep your companion as long as possible.

Table of nutrient requirements for different life-stages
Nutrient Requirements Puppy Weaning to 9months. Small breeds. Pregnant and nursing bitch Puppy Weaning to 18 months. Larger breeds Adult dogs From maturity to 5-7 years For the less active/Weight prone adult dog For the active/ nervous dog For the older dog from 5-7 years (larger breeds) From 7 years (smaller breeds)
Fat - energy Arrow Up Arrow Up Optimum Arrow Down Arrow Up Arrow Down
Protein Arrow Up Arrow Up Optimum Arrow Down Arrow Down Arrow Down
Fibre Arrow Down Arrow Down Optimum Arrow Up Arrow Down Arrow Right
Calcium Arrow Up Arrow Up Optimum Arrow Down Arrow Down Arrow Down
Phosphorous Arrow Up Arrow Up Optimum Arrow Down Arrow Down Arrow Down Double
Sodium Arrow Right Arrow Right Optimum Arrow Right Arrow Right Arrow Down Double

General feeding guide

  • When switching your dog to any new food, gradually introduce it over a 5-day period. Mix it with your dog's former food, gradually increasing the proportion until only the new food is being fed.
  • You can tell if your dog is the ideal weight when you can feel, but not see his ribs. To be sure of his ideal weight consult the Veterinary Surgery.
  • Keep fresh water available at all times.
  • If you are switching from a canned food to a dry food, expect your pet to drink a lot more water, most commercially produced tinned food is made up of over 80%, which provides a large amount of drinking water for your dog.
  • Your dog's activity level, life-stage and temperament can affect how much and what he need to eat, we will advise you on the most appropriate diet for your dog.
  • The best way to measure the quality of a pet food is to measure what goes in compared to what is passed out. Many inexpensive pet food, provide a lot of fillers which may make it look good value, but a lot of the food is not utilised by the animal and there is more to clean up afterwards.
  • If your pet refuses to eat for more than 48 hours, discuss the problem with the Veterinary Surgeon immediately
  • If you are feeding a premium or commercially prepared pet food, it is not necessary to give any additional supplements; in fact this may do more harm than good.
  • Most feeding guides on pet food are to be used as a guide only. The Veterinary Surgery will advise you on the most appropriate amount for your dog

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