As pet parents, it is our job to provide the best food for our dog. One of the crucial factors is to determine the best food according to your dog’s age. Each dog has different nutritional needs with every life stage, from puppies, adults, to senior dogs. We’ve compiled a helpful list of what to look out for in dog food for every life stage.



Pet food for Puppies

Puppies start to wean from their mother’s milk to other food slowly starting from 3 or 4 weeks old. They should be fully switched to food when they reach 7 or 8 weeks old. Puppies have different nutritional requirements versus that of adult dogs. This is because they need specific nutrients to support their healthy growth and development.

To support their rapid growth, they would need more energy (calories), and protein.

That is why it is important to give them food that is made especially for puppies. It’s generally not recommended to feed puppies homemade dog food due the difficulty in maintaining the proper nutrition and balance, and may lead to nutrient deficiencies.  

The amount they eat should depend on their size, breed, and activity level. Make sure to give them the recommended amount based on the feeding guidelines listed on the bag or can. Too much calcium and overfeeding may cause orthopedic problems like hip dysplasia and joint problems in growing puppies.

It is also recommended to check the pet food label and look for the nutritional adequacy statement that is established by The AAFCO (The Association of American Feed Control Officials): "(Brand name) is formulated to meet the nutritional levels established by the AAFCO Dog Food Nutrient Profiles for growth."


Here are some recommended natural pet food specially made for puppies:

Natural Balance Dog Dry Food Limited Ingredient Diet Puppy Formula Duck & Potato 4 Lbs


  • Merrick Grain Free Beef and Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe
  • Merrick BackCountry Puppy Recipe
  • Orijen Puppy Formula
  • Acana Puppy Formula
  • Taste of the Wild High Prairie Puppy Formula
  • Taste of the Wild Pacific Stream Puppy Formula


Pet food for Adult Dogs

Transitioning from puppy food to adult dog food usually happens when your dog is around 1 year old. You should work closely with your veterinarian to make sure that your puppy is ready to transition to adult food.

Pet food specifically made for adult dogs will help maintain their weight and provide them necessary nutrients they need for them to live a healthy life.

What and how much to feed a dog is going to vary a lot based on breed, size, age, and activity level. The feeding instructions on dog food labels are a good place to start.

There are different types of adult dog food that are specially formulated for different pet needs. For example, there are dog food that are specially formulated for large breeds, as they tend to have ingredients that support joint health. These ingredients include EPA, DHA, glucosamine, and chondroitin.



Natural Balance Dog Dry Food Limited Ingredient Diet Lamb Formula 24 Lbs


There are also small-breed dog food formulas available that come in smaller kibble sizes. This variety will be easier for their little mouths, and is meant to give them enough calories for their fast metabolisms.


Natural Balance Dog Dry Food Limited Ingredient Diet Small Breed Bites Duck & Potato 4 Lbs


For some dogs that need some trimming down, there are reduced calorie pet food options like Natural Balance Fat Dogs that help overweight dogs shed some unwanted pounds.


Pet food for Senior Dogs

When dogs reach their older years, their nutritional needs change. On average, their senior years usually come around 7 or 8 years of age, but this would also depend on their breed. Smaller breeds are generally considered as senior at around 10 or 12 years old, while the larger breeds are considered as senior at 5 or 6 years of age.

Same with humans, older pets are more prone to getting health problems and ailments like kidney dysfunction, arthritis, and hip and joint weakness. These health problems may be better managed and improve through nutritional supplements and pet food specially formulated for senior dogs.

Since senior dogs would tend to move around less, they generally need lower calorie diets to help prevent obesity and high fiber diets to help improve digestion.


According to, here are other things to consider when choosing a senior dog food:

  • Protein:Ideally from a formulation that’s at least 24 percent and higher protein from animal sources like chicken.
  • Reduced sodium (salt):High blood pressure is a serious concern for aging dogs. While research on the effects of sodium is ongoing, few doubt that dogs should consume an appropriate, and not excessive, amount of sodium in their diets.
  • Low caloric density:Compared to adult formulas, senior formulations in general will drop 20 to 30 percent in calorie density per serving. Keep in mind, however, that senior dogs whether large or small breeds may have different specific caloric needs. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your pet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids:To combat the increased inflammation that comes with aging.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin:To combat and prevent arthritic conditions.


As long as your dog maintains a healthy weight, you won’t need to change the amount of food they consume. But one common issue for senior pets is that they tend to become picky eaters. You can try giving your pet different brand and flavors, and mixing wet food as toppers to their kibble to keep things enticing for them.

Here are some recommended natural dog food formulated for senior pets:


Natural Balance Original Ultra Grain Free Chicken Senior Formula 4 lbs


If your dog has any medical problems and health complications in its senior years, you will need help from your veterinarian to plan a proper diet and nutrition plan. Senior dogs with specific conditions like diabetes, kidney problems and liver disease may need special diets to help manage their treatments.


Each dog, regardless of how old they are, has specific needs. The best way to provide the best dog food for your best friend is to always consult with your trusted veterinarian.