Adult Phase ...
Smaller breeds of dogs mature earlier than large ones and age slower. This means that for small breed the adult phase will be a significant part of their lives. Large and giant breeds mature later and age quickly, so the adult phase is comparatively short in these breeds. In cats the adult phase is usually reckoned to last from about one year to around 7 years of age, similar to small breeds, if we are to believe the currently veterinary guidelines.
The following information is meant as a general guideline, and has been researched from other sources.
For the majority of animals, with the exception of working dogs, toy breeds and pregnant or lactating animals, nutritional needs in this phase are the least demanding and are met by good-quality food. A check should always be kept on weight by using the body condition score (see Managing your fur kids weight), although this can be done less frequently than during the growth phase.
The amount fed should always be linked to the amount of exercise your fur kids receives and it is important to remember the feeding advise on commercial product are only recommendations, not absolute quantities. The weight and the body condition score will indicate whether the amount being fed is correct or requires adjustment. The aim is to maintain your fur kids ideal body weight by balancing the amount fed with the activity levels so that your fur kids enters its post-maturity phase as healthy as possible. Don't forget in summer time, that your dogs will require more energy to cool down than what they would require to warm up, and adjust your meal plans accordingly.
In summary, the recommended time to switch your dog’s diet to an adult food diet is ideal when your dog is close to his adult height, approximately at two years of age, but this is a generalization. Smaller dogs achieve this sooner, around one year of age, and very large breeds much later, some up to 5 years.
The adult diet that is right for your dog will depend on his breed and level of activity. While some dogs may require special diets due to medical issues, the average small or medium breed dog should eat food containing:
- High-quality, animal-based protein for muscle maintenance, such as one of our frozen raw meal packs or sardines;
- Fibre for a healthy digestive tract, such as our raw chunky tripe or tripe meal packs;
- Essential vitamins and minerals for the immune system, as an example, the Promix Vitamin & Mineral blend;
- Vitamin-rich oils for a healthy coat and skin and for overall health, and here we have a range of offerings.
Large breed dogs may need food containing glucosamine and less fat than a medium breed dog to help maintain joint health.
Most veterinarians recommend feeding your kitten adult food or diet plans at about nine months of age. Cats tend to put on weight after they are spayed or neutered, which occurs at six months or earlier.
Cats are strict meat eaters, or carnivores, so the food should contain a high level of easily digestible protein. Fat is also important for needed calories (see Difference between Cats & Dogs).
Adult cat food should also contain:
- Vitamin A, from liver, kidney and other organ meats, and niacin for healthy growth;
- Essential fatty acids for healthy skin and fur;
- Taurine for healthy eyes and heart muscle.
Adult Meal Management
We believe you should aim to feed a varied and balanced diet over the course of a week, averaged over a month, alternating different meats wherever possible. Remember, these percentages don’t need to be exact per meal or per day, just a target for the week.
Dogs need to consume 2-3% of their ideal (healthy sized adult) bodyweight per day, usually split over two meals. This figure may be different from one dog to another as you will need to adjust for their current size and activity levels.
If your dog is overweight then feed 2%, likewise if you dog is too skinny, you may want to increase this amount to 3.5%. Start with a percentage and fine tune it over time, by using the Body Condition Score (BCS) method (see Managing your fur kids weight).
Canine Feeding Index Summary
Feline Feeding Index Summary
Don’t forget that treats count towards the daily allowance so if you’re doing heavy training sessions, you may want to compensate during meal time.
Raw Feeding Index
Toy Breed Daily Feeding Index
Small Breed Daily Feeding Index
Medium Breed Daily Feeding Index
Large Breed Daily Feeding Index
Xtra Large Breed Daily Feeding Index
Additional Articles and Videos
Good reference articles & videos further reading available at:
- Agar, Sandie, Small Animal Nutrition, 2001, Elseview Limited (Amazon)