Your pets’ nutrition today can directly affect your pet’s health tomorrow. Caring for a pet and keeping your pet healthy are long-term commitments that include knowing how to maintain your cat or dog at home (especially if you’re out a lot), how to keep your pets safe and most importantly, how to keep a dog or cat healthy and fit. A list of pet essentials includes quality pet food.

Pet food is one way to deal with all three concerns. It provides healthy building blocks for everything from their coat to their hips & joints. To keep your cat or dog healthy and live longer, you must understand the different life stages of pets. Just like their pet parents, pets also have ever changing needs and go through different pet life stages. This means you can’t feed your adult dog the same food you fed him when he was a puppy, and can’t expect an adult cat to be as active as a kitten. Food serving size, nutritional needs, amount of exercise and other pet essentials among many others will vary throughout your pet’s life. Here are some pet care tips to help keep your pet healthy and happy at every life stage.

PUPPIES/KITTENS: They're increasing in size every day and need more levels of calcium, vitamins, minerals, calories & protein per pound than adult pets to support their health and growth.

All about cats and dogs

  • Puppies and kittens use about 50% of their total energy just for growing; and a growing pet needs almost twice the energy per pound than an adult dog or cat. High quality ingredients have better digestibility, which means your pet will absorb more of the nutrients he needs. Avoid feeding low quality food with little to no nutritional benefits. 
  • Protein gives their hearts, skin & muscles the ability to move, function and repair. Excellent sources of protein include fish, poultry, and eggs. So, when looking at pet food labels, make sure that the first ingredient listed is good quality protein. 
  • Essential fatty acids (Omega 3’s and 6’s), zinc and vitamin A in the right amounts are also great for their skin and coat. Fat also helps in the absorption of many vitamins, as well as prevent cell damage and inflammation. while zinc can help overall quality of skin and coat. Vitamin A addresses any patches of thinning and falling fur.
  • Cats need the heart healthy nutrient taurine all throughout their life stages, which must be obtained through food and is found in fish, poultry and meat. Taurine is also vital for reproduction and vision.
  • Because kittens are natural calorie burners, they need to eat frequently. Choose quality kitten nutrition and feed three times a day until they're 6 months old and twice a day until they're 1 year old to help support their rapid metabolism.

You can find a variety of puppy and kitten recipes from Wellness, Halo, Merrick, Whole Earth Farms available in all our stores.

ADULT DOGS & CATS: Choosing the right food for your adult pet is a pet essential, which includes supporting his unique health needs, which may include weight management, oral care, sensitive skin, digestion, activity level and more. The right food can help him stay healthy throughout his adult years and prepare him for his senior years.

Cat stopped eating

  • Depending on your pet’s lifestyle, they may require specially formulated food that’s suited for their health needs (more energy and protein for highly active sporting dogs). Your furbaby can choose from a variety of recipes from Taste of the Wild, Merrick, and Natural Balance.
  • If your pet is overweight or tends to gain weight easily, consider keeping your pet healthy by trying high-quality weight management formulas like Natural Balance Fat Dogs and Fat Cats, and Natural Balance Reduced Calorie Formulas to help him shed pounds.
  • If your pet has sensitive skin or a sensitive stomach, consider a tailored grain- free or limited ingredient formulas from Taste of the Wild, Merrick, Whole Earth Farms and Halo that can help minimize these issues.
  • Caring for a pet that is prone to plaque and tartar buildup, quality nutrition that's specially formulated to help clean teeth and gums can support better dental health. Give your pet Greenies and Whimzees dental treats to keep their teeth healthy.

Cat growth stagesSource: @themaxsociety

Some special things to keeping adult cats healthy:

  • Arginine is another important nutrient from protein that helps support your cat's liver function.
  • Specially formulated, fiber-rich nutrition can help your cat pass existing hairballs and prevent new ones from forming by helping to move hair through the gastrointestinal tract where it's deposited in the stool.
  • Some cat foods are uniquely formulated to help maintain urinary tract health by reducing urinary pH and potentially minimizing crystal and bladder stone formation.
  • Despite a cat's naturally low thirst drive, hydration is essential. If you’re wondering how to keep your pets safe from diseases, make sure you leave clean water at all time. Wet food offers high moisture content that can help fulfill your cat's water needs and help minimize urinary tract conditions.

SENIOR PET CARE TIPS: Starting around age 7, your senior cat may be undergoing health and lifestyle changes with their weight, skin, joints, teeth or internal organs. Your senior pet may be more prone to obesity, heart & kidney disease as well as degenerative hip & joint disease as he reaches 8 years & beyond. These changes require proper nutrition to nourish your pet’s needs and help slow the signs of aging, so she can better enjoy her golden years.

Happy dog signs

  • The slowing metabolism and activity levels of older pets may require fewer calories and less fat. As a result, senior formulas generally have fewer calories compared to adult formulas. However, as some pets age, their eating habits and ability to absorb nutrients can change, which may result in weight loss. If your senior pet is underweight, consult your veterinarian to rule out any medical conditions and on choosing higher calorie formulas.
  • Senior pets require less protein to maintain a healthy liver & kidneys.
  • Senior pets can also have digestive irregularities, so nutrition rich in fiber that contains probiotics can support their gastrointestinal systems.
  • Dental disease is also common in older pets. If left untreated, it may lead to painful tooth loss or other serious health conditions. A preventive dental care routine, which can include specially formulated oral care cat nutrition, can help reduce plaque and prevent gum disease.
  • If your pet has difficulty chewing his normally hard kibble, consider moistening his dry food with water or incorporating wet food into each meal.

Choose quality pet nutrition and feed two to three times a day, or as directed by your veterinarian to help support your pet’s nutritional needs. In addition to establishing a routine feeding schedule, it's important to always provide clean, fresh water nearby.

The key to having a happy and healthy pet is knowing that your furbaby is unique, which means what's best for one may not be ideal for another and each pet’s life stage will vary. Things like size, breed, lifestyle, and health needs can all impact the type of nutrition that best nourishes your pet. Talk to any of our Pet Care Advisors and let them help you keep your furbaby healthy and happy throughout their whole lives.