Black & white dog laying on wood floor with a bowl of food in front of him

Ensuring Our Dogs & Cats Get All the Nutrients They Need to Thrive

With so many options in the pet food aisle, it can be difficult to know which diet to choose for your four-legged family member. The first step is to consider your dog or cat’s life stage because puppies and kittens have unique nutritional needs in comparison to adult or senior pets.

Stage One: Puppy and Kitten

Puppies and kittens require more protein to help support their growing muscles and brain and vision development.  They need just the right balance of calcium and phosphorous to fuel their growing bones and teeth. DHA, an Omega-3 fatty acid found in sources like mother’s milk and fish ingredients, such as salmon oil, is critical for healthy brain and vision development. Keeping them on a recipe formulated for puppies and kittens, such as our Healthy Grains Puppy Recipe or our Purrfect Bistro Grain Free Healthy Kitten Recipe, throughout this stage of their life will help ensure they are getting all the nutrients they need in just the right balance.

For large breed puppies, it’s important that they don’t grow too quickly; it can lead to painful bone and joint issues as a puppy and set them up for health challenges such as arthritis or hip dysplasia later in life. Therefore, seeking out a recipe that is specifically formulated for their unique metabolic needs is important for their healthy development. Our Grain Free Real Chicken and Sweet Potato Puppy Recipe is one of many options Merrick has.  

Because puppies and kittens often have smaller mouths and teeth than adults, finding the correct kibble shape and size can help ensure the young ones are able to consume the calories they need.  For example, our Lil’ Plates Grain Free Puppy Real Chicken Recipe is made specifically for puppies and contains smaller sized kibble for smaller mouths.  

Stage Two: Adulthood

Most kittens and small- to medium-breed dogs reach adulthood within the first year, typically between 8-12 months. However, large breed dogs can continue to grow until they’re almost 2 years old. It’s always best to speak with your veterinarian to understand when your pet has reached the right developmental milestones to move to a food formulated for adult dogs and cats.

During their adult lives, dogs and cats should be fed a recipe formulated for maintenance.  

The most important part of feeding in this life stage is the quantity in the bowl each day. The metabolism of each dog and cat can vary widely, so having an open line of communication with your veterinarian will help ensure your pet maintains an optimal body condition to help minimize other health conditions that can plague them as they age. Over and over, research has shown that keeping a pet in optimal body condition is the one thing that can help them live a longer and better quality of life – who wouldn’t want their four-legged to have that?!?

Stage Three: Senior

As pets age, there are key nutrients like Omega-6 fatty acids and protein that are especially important for our senior pets in their golden years. Omega-6 fatty acids like linoleic acid can help support healthy skin and coat, glucosamine and chondroitin help support healthy hips and joints, and protein is important for maintaining a pet’s muscle mass. At Merrick, our senior dog recipes, such as the Healthy Grains Senior Recipe, contain the necessary nutrients and protein levels to support your aging dog. Because our pets age more quickly than we do, having consistent and regular conversations with your veterinarian can help ensure you’re providing the right recipe with the right nutrients in just the right balance.

Quality nutrition can not only make a visible difference in the appearance and activity level of dogs and cats, but it can also set them up for a long, vibrant, and happy life and strengthen the amazing relationships we share with them.


two dogs waiting for food

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