We recently adopted a new Shih-tzu/Bichon cross puppy who is four months old. We already have two other Shih-tzu crosses, Toby and Ritz, who are 3 and 5. We’ve been feeding Toby and Ritz separately from the new puppy, Baxter, but he prefers their food to his own. Can we feed Baxter the adult food instead of his own puppy formula?
Congratulations on your new adoption!
Feeding pets of different ages can be difficult. However you may try to feed them separately, some food will inevitably be shared. A little sharing of meals is all right, but age-specific diets are created with age-specific needs. Your puppy, adult, or senior dog may not be getting all the nutrients he or she needs, or may be getting too much, if fed a diet that is not age-appropriate.
Here is a breakdown of how your dog’s dietary needs change from puppy to adulthood:
Puppy foods are typically the highest in calories of all age-category foods. Since your puppy is going through rapid growth, puppy diets are loaded with healthy fats for energy, and more protein for muscle development. Puppy foods also include high levels of calcium for healthy bones and teeth, and higher concentrations of other vitamins and minerals for growth.
Older and adult dogs fed puppy formulas can gain excess weight easily, so it is best to keep older dogs away from your puppy’s food. Pregnant or lactating dogs can be fed a quality puppy formula for their increased calorie and nutrient needs.
Adult formulas have lower levels of protein, fats, and carbohydrates than puppy formulas. As adult dogs are finished major growth, their energy requirements are typically lower.
If your puppy or senior dog eats adult dog food occasionally, there is no harm, but long-term, they could be lacking adequate levels of some essential nutrients.
Senior formulas generally have less carbohydrates and fats than adult and puppy formulas, as energy requirements decrease again with age. Protein levels may be higher in senior formulas than adult formulas to prevent muscle atrophy, and promote muscular maintenance. Many high-quality senior formulas also include ingredients such as glucosamine and chondroitin for arthritis, a common condition in aging dogs.
Puppies and adult dogs fed senior formulas are unlikely to receive enough calories for their energy requirements, unless the adult dog is housebound or less active.
It is near impossible to feed pets in the same household without having some food crossover. A little food from the wrong age category is not going to be unhealthy for your pet. However, you should ensure most of your dog s’ dietary needs are satisfied with an age-appropriate food. Most importantly, you should make sure you are feeding all your pets a high-quality food with whole meats or meat meals, hearty whole grains, and nutritious fruits and vegetables high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals.
From my family to yours,
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