From puppy to adolescent, through to adult and senior, as your dog goes through different stages, their exercise and nutrition needs change. Find out how to help them stay happy and healthy every day of their lives...
“Thanks to modern veterinary science and an increased understanding of their needs, our dogs are living longer,” states the RSPCA, which is great news for dog lovers. The charity’s research shows that the average lifespan for purebred dogs is 11.9 years, with crossbred dogs averaging a longer 13.1 years – although the oldest dog ever recorded by Guinness World Records was an Australian cattle-dog named Bluey, owned by Les Hall of Rochester, Victoria, Australia, who lived to the grand old age of 29 years 5 months.
How your dog ages is generally determined by factors such as genetics, nutrition and quality of care. Smaller breeds tend to hit their ‘teenage’, adolescent phase earlier than larger breeds who develop more slowly. A small breed dog will often be mature by around a year old, whereas a giant breed can be two years plus before they’re classed as an adult dog.
And, of course, every dog is an individual, so if you have queries or concerns about feeding your dog or how much exercise they need, consult your vet. Plus, our guide to life stage dog exercise and nutrition requirements can help.
PUPPY – birth to 6-18 months (depending on breed)
While your dog is still growing, it’s important to protect their joints by introducing them to exercise slowly.
PDSA advises: “As a general rule, aim for exercising your puppy for five minutes per month of age, twice a day (for example, three months = 15 minutes twice a day, four months = 20 minutes twice a day etc). Every pup’s unique: the above is just a rule of thumb so keep an eye on how your puppy is managing. If they seem like they’re struggling, cut down on exercise until their fitness improves (and see the vet if they’re not picking up). If they still have buckets of energy all the time, then maybe another round of playtime is in order. Try to keep sessions short at first until your puppy gets used to them.”
Puppies require a little more protein to support their growing muscles and the right balance of calcium and phosphorus for developing bones and teeth. Shop our range of Puppy Dog Food >>
PUPPY FEEDING TIPS
- Gradually introduce your puppy to kibble over a week by mashing a little down with hot water to create a paste and cooling to room temperature. Gradually add less water until your puppy is eating the dry kibbles.
- Always feed the recommended amount on pack. Over-feeding puppies may encourage an acceleration in growth, which can cause skeletal abnormalities where joints are not formed correctly. For example, osteoarthritis and hip dysplasia. Find more advice on feeding your puppy >>
How much food should you feed your dog? What’s the best dog food for your dog? What’s the best dog food for your puppy? What can dogs eat? What can’t dogs eat? How many times a day should you feed your dog? Will feeding treats cause weight issues? Find the answers in our dog feeding guide >>
ADOLESCENT (JUNIOR) – From 6 to 18 months (depending on breed)
This is the stage of your dog’s life when hormones start to kick in. Female adolescent dogs will go into heat and male adolescent dogs suddenly become really interested in marking their territory all along their walking route. if not sprayed or neutered, your adolescent dog may show signs of moody ‘teenage’ behaviour, just like humans. For example, they may be more reluctant to pay attention and ignore you when you call them to come back to you.
RSPCA advises: “Just like human teenagers, adolescent dogs have the energy and motivation to do more. More exploration, more play, more interaction with their friends (humans and non-humans!) but they lack the necessary knowledge and experience to think about and manage their actions and reactions. Because teenage dogs are so much more energetic and interactive, they can easily find themselves in conflict when they are asked to stop doing something, or simply to calm down, even in situations when they previously were 'obedient' and responded.
“Research suggests that the learning ability of adolescent dogs is better than that of adults or puppies and so the best thing to do is to focus some of their energy towards structured play and exercise sessions, for example, searching games, scent puzzles and long walks in quiet areas.”
Busy junior dogs benefit from high quality nutrition that supports their nutritional needs and helps maintain healthy joints, muscles, digestion and immune systems. Shop our range of Adult Dog Food >>
- If you are changing your dog’s food, gradually replace the old food with the new over 5 to 7 days.
- The amount of food your dog needs depends on their size, breed and level of activity. You’ll be able to find detailed feeding instructions on the back of food packs. Find more feeding advice >>
While all dogs need daily exercise, how much depends on their breed, age, health and even their personality. Find out how much exercise your dog actually needs >>
ADULT – From 18 months to 6 years (depending on breed)
Once your dog is an adult and has stopped growing, it’s important to make sure they stay fit and active. It is a great time to find activities that you and your dog can enjoy together. For example, PDSA advises: “Varying your dog’s routine is an excellent way to keep their mind and body healthy.” Some ideas include:
- Walking: Most dogs need at least one to two walks per day (unless otherwise specified by your vet). A brisk walk is a great opportunity for your dog to burn off extra energy, and a slow, meandering walk – where you let your dog sniff and explore for as long as they want – is great for their mental health.
- Swimming:Swimming is a great option if your dog likes the water, and as an added benefit, it’s very easy on their joints.
- Agility:This is a fun way to exercise your dog, especially if they have an active mind and love a challenge. It involves training your dog to complete an obstacle course containing hurdles, tunnels and even seesaws. It’s also a great way to bond with your dog and socialise them with other dogs
Adult dogs require foods that are naturally rich in protein for good muscle maintenance and essential fatty acids to help nourish their coat and maintain healthy eyes. Shop our range of Adult Dog Food >>
- When feeding a complete dry food, give your dog their daily requirement in two or more servings.
- It’s important not to over feed your dog. Remember to take treats into account when working out your dog’s portion sizes.
- To help keep their teeth clean, give your dog something hard, such as chews, on a regular basis. Find more feeding advice >>
Both dogs and humans benefit from physical activity. While going for a long country walk is one way to do it, there is nothing like a fun, teamworking activity to keep your dog fit, mentally stimulated and to build that special bond between you. Find out more about activities to do with your dog >>
SENIOR – from 7 years (depending on breed)
As your dog gets older, you may notice that they start to need a little less exercise than usual. While it’s important to keep them mobile, they certainly won’t need to run and walk as much as they did in their prime.
PDSA has the following advice:
- Keep exercise regular and gentle. This will keep your senior dog active and help their muscles and joints. Little and often is best as joints get stiffer when they've not been used for a bit.
- Don't stop walking. Your dog might not be able to go on longer walks anymore but they still need the opportunity to get outdoors every day to sniff, stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Make sure you keep to a fairly short route in case your dog gets tired.
- Keep to familiar routes and places. As dogs get older, much like people they can start to lose their sight and hearing. Keeping to somewhere familiar to them will stop them becoming anxious and confused.
- Go at your dog's pace. Don't rush them or try to make them exercise for longer than they are able to. If they stop chasing a toy or lie down on a walk, they need to rest.
Joint or dental problems, which can cause smelly breath, are common as dogs start to age. Older dogs benefit from added glucosamine for optimal joint mobility and prebiotics to aid the body’s natural defences. Shop our range of Senior Dog Food >>
- As your dog enters their golden years, you may start to notice some of the signs of aging. Feeding your senior dog with a specially formulated mature food can help to ease the effects of growing older.
- Choosing a food specially developed for senior dogs can help support joint mobility and the immune system, aid digestion and maintain a healthy coat and skin. Find more feeding advice for senior dogs here >>
As our best friends and constant companions, we want our dogs to live as long as possible, enjoying many, many healthy and happy years with us. Find out how to help your dog live a long and happy life >>
The Burgess Dog Food range – something tasty for every dog
The optimum diet for your pet is one that supplies the correct number of calories and balance of nutrients for their size, life stage and lifestyle. This means calculating the nutrient content and dietary components such as protein, fat, carbohydrate and vitamins and minerals required.
All Burgess Dog Food is a complete food. This means, whatever variety you choose for your dog, it will contain all the nutrients they need in the correct balance.
We also use only premium ingredients to ensure excellent quality and superior taste to help keep your dog happy and healthy – from puppy, to adult and senior. We’ve also developed foods to meet the specific nutritional needs of working and sporting dogs, Greyhounds and Lurchers, and dogs with sensitivities as well as a light variety for dogs who need to lose weight or are less mobile.
And we’re very proud of our Paul O'Grady's 'No Nasties' dog food range, which comes in Hypoallergenic and Grain Free varieties and is, in Paul's words: ''the best food you can feed your dogs.’'
How to choose the right food for your dog
Dog food has never been better researched with recipes created using the latest in nutritional science to calculate the correct balance of vitamins, minerals, protein, carbohydrates and fats. The amounts of these ingredients that your dog needs throughout the various stages of their life can change – a puppy needs a different blend of nutrients to that required by an elderly dog.
Another consideration is choosing a food and that suits your dog’s lifestyle. For example, a well-exercised pet Border Collie may be classed as a ‘working breed’, but he or she will not require the same nutrition as an actual working Collie who’s running about on a farm all day long. Small, not very active dogs need only about 185 to 370 calories daily, while large and active ones may need between 1,000 and 2,000 calories.
If you are at all unsure about the best way of feeding your pet or have any concerns about specific nutritional requirements at different times of their life, ask your local veterinary practice for advice.
<< You can also call our expert team on 44 (0)0800 413 969 who’ll be happy to help. They’re available 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday. >>
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