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Dogs are dogs, right? Can’t you just give the same food to every dog, regardless of age, breed or size? Not really! Large and small breeds of dogs have very different nutritional needs.
These needs are about much more than just how much food goes into the dog’s bowl. In fact, every pet is unique. Your dog has different nutritional needs based on age, breed, and size.
When looking for the best dog food for your four-legged friend, you want to choose a good quality food and give them the right amount for their size. Too much food can lead to obesity in pets, which can lead to health problems later on.
Always check the packaging for information about the correct portion sizes and speak to your veterinarian when making decisions about your dog’s diet.
When it comes to nutrition, there are some significant food differences between small dogs and large breeds, including the size of the nibble, calories, and ingredients. Let’s take a look at what’s in your pet’s bowl and why you need to choose a specific food based on your dog’s size.
Pay attention to the size of the food
Dry food for smaller dogs tends to have smaller chunks than food for large dogs. Smaller pieces make it easier for them to eat. The small bits of food are easier for their small jaws to digest and easier for their gastrointestinal system to digest.
Larger breed feed usually has much larger chunks. Your jaws are better able to handle the larger nuggets of dry food, and the more significant elements are more suitable for your teeth.
Give your dog the right amount of calories
Small, energetic dogs need more calories per pound of body weight than larger dogs. More calories are needed to meet their energy needs.
From the puppy stage through old age, smaller dogs need dog food that has the right amount of calories for their active life. That doesn’t mean they need more food. The portion sizes on the bag will help you know how much to give your pet. Instead, properly formulated puppy food will have a protein and fat ratio that is right for your dog.
According to the American Kennel Club, small breed puppies are at risk of low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, due to their high energy levels. Hypoglycemia occurs because the puppies have a lot of drive but little body fat. Symptoms of low blood sugar include weakness, lethargy, muscle tremors, and seizures.
Most premium brands of small breed puppy foods are designed to contain the right ingredients to prevent this from happening. However, you should speak to your veterinarian right away if you suspect your puppy may have low blood sugar.
On the other hand, large breeds of dogs eat far larger amounts of food, but the food is not as nutritionally dense. The reason is to make sure that larger dogs that are still growing and developing at the correct rate.
As research at ThePets shows, larger breed dog foods have been formulated to keep your dog at a healthy weight. You want to choose dog foods that have healthy, lean proteins and a mix of vegetables, vitamins, and minerals that will support your dog’s health.
Dog obesity is a leading cause of health problems, and some estimate that obesity can last up to two years in your pet’s life.
Diet and ingredients are important
Yes, even the ingredients in dog food differ depending on the size of your pet. For example, some large breed foods contain extra calcium that aids bone development. Other brands will include supplements that larger breeds may need.
Some dog foods are specially formulated to keep the joints of larger dogs healthy and flexible. Others may have extra fiber, plus pro and prebiotics, to help maintain a healthy gut.
Studies have shown that improper nutrition in large breeds of dogs can lead to serious conditions, such as poor bone development, which can lead to lameness.
Your dog’s phase of life
Did you know that large and small breeds of dogs mature at different rates? Small dogs reach physical maturity in about eight months; However, large breeds reach maturity much later, in about 18 months.
At the same time, large puppies grow strongly during these months. Just look at the growth between a tiny Schnauzer puppy with a tea cup and a Great Dane puppy!
That means you need to choose a balanced, appropriate food based on your pet’s age and size. Large breed puppy food is carefully formulated to ensure proper nutrition for proper growth of their larger bodies.
Food for smaller breed puppies has the correct calories and nutrition to support their growth. Fortunately, there is puppy foods for both small and large breeds.
For larger breeds, you want the feed to provide complete nutrition, but at the right price. Too much food can lead to obesity as the extra weight is not yet supported by the growing bones. This can lead to problems later in life like hip dysplasia, problems with inflammation in cartilage and bones, or problems with the development of your long leg bones.
Large breed puppy foods also have a carefully balanced calcium to phosphorus balance to encourage bone growth. Larger dogs are particularly predisposed to hip dysplasia, and two of the main culprits are rapid weight gain and excessive amounts of calcium. They want enough to encourage their bones to grow, but not too much to cause overdevelopment.
As your furry companion gets older, they will need adequate senior food. Both large and small breeds may need nutritional supplements to keep their joints healthy as they age. Another consideration is the amount of fiber. As the dog ages, they are more prone to indigestion, and the right amount of fiber can help.
Older dog foods also usually use a very easily digestible source of protein so that the liver is not stressed too much. Still, they need protein to prevent muscle mass loss in old age. Small breeds tend to live longer than large dogs, making them the senior stage longer. Choosing the right food is therefore very important.
Talk to your vet!
Now you know the importance of choosing the best food for your dog’s size and stage of life.
Some health conditions are genetic and there is not much you can do about them. However, you can prevent many of your dog’s health problems with proper care and nutrition.
If you are concerned about specific conditions, be sure to speak to your veterinarian. They can help you with any questions you may have about eating and caring for your furry family member.
When choosing food, do you pay attention to the size of your dog? What types of healthy foods does your dog love? Let us know in the comments below!