Special Nutritional Needs for Dogs
Special Nutritional Needs for Dogs

Special Nutritional Needs for Dogs

Just like people, all dogs are unique. Their breed, size, age, weight and overall health are key deciding factors in how we care for them and what we feed them. And if your dog has special nutritional needs, the decision about which dog food to give him can feel even more complicated.



Dogs with special nutritional needs may include:

  • Dogs that are overweight
  • Senior dogs
  • Pregnant or nursing dogs


Learn more about special nutritional needs in dogs, as well as special formulas from IAMS™, with our list of frequently asked questions.



What Should I Feed an Overweight Dog?

If your dog is overweight, you can help reduce his weight by maintaining the required dietary nutrients he needs while also reducing his caloric intake to the level necessary for his metabolic energy demands. This is done by feeding recommended portions at least twice a day and weighing your dog on a regular basis to monitor weight loss.

Because dogs metabolize differently and have different activity levels, it might be necessary to adjust the amount you feed several times. Keep in mind that it will take a lot longer for a 15-pound dog to lose one pound than it would a 200-pound person. Keep things in perspective and be patient. Our reduced-fat and weight-control products, such as IAMS ProActive Health™ Healthy Weight, are recommended for overweight adult dogs. Before putting your dog on a weight-loss program, however, consult a veterinarian.



Do You Have Products for Older Dogs?

We offer foods for older dogs that help address the special lifestyle changes associated with aging. As dogs grow older, activity levels often decrease and muscle mass diminishes. These changes can result in the need for a product with fewer calories and more protein. In addition, older dogs also might prefer a food that is easy to chew. Products such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult are well suited to meet the nutritional needs of older dogs.



What Should I Feed a Pregnant Dog During Early and Mid-Gestation?

When selecting a food for a pregnant dog, consider her condition and weight. Because gestation places additional nutrient demands on the body, a food that contains optimum amounts of protein and fat is recommended.



What Should I Feed a Pregnant Dog During Late Gestation and Throughout Lactation?

Late gestation and lactation are some of the most stressful times in a dog’s life. Dogs need considerably more nutrition during these times because fetal growth requirements are very high and a mother’s milk must meet the nutrition needs of her litter. Because of this, gestating and lactating dogs should be fed a diet more nutrient-dense than her regular adult diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Smart Puppy, which is formulated to provide the nutrition gestating and lactating dogs, as well as their puppies, need.

Generally, a pregnant dog should be fed approximately 125% to 150% of her normal amount during late gestation, and she can be fed free choice (as much as she wants) throughout lactation. After the puppies are weaned, and the mother is back to her normal weight, she can be transitioned back to her maintenance diet.



How Can I Learn More about Pet Nutrition?

The answers to these and other questions about pet nutrition are available by calling the IAMS Customer Service Center toll-free at 1-800-863-4267.

article special nutritional needs for dogs header
 article special nutritional needs for dogs inset
  • Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On
    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

    Your Senior Dog’s Health from 7 Years On

    Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active

    It depends on the breed of dog, but your pet's senior years generally begin at age 7. Louise Murray, DVM, director of the ASPCA's Bergh Memorial Animal Hospital in New York City and author of Vet Confidential (Ballantine, 2008), tells you what you need to know to keep your older dog spry and happy.



    Senior Dog Health: Preventive Health

    At this stage, Murray recommends taking your dog to the vet twice a year. "So much can happen to an elderly dog," she says. Your veterinarian can take blood annually to test liver and kidney functions. "Discovering problems early is extremely important," she says. Your vet can be on the lookout for conditions that often affect older dogs, such as anemia and arthritis.



    Senior Dog Health: Urination, Bowel Movements, and Appetite

    Pay attention to what might be subtle changes in your dog's habits: Is she drinking more water or urinating larger amounts? These behaviors might indicate a liver or kidney problem. Have your dog's bowel movements shifted? This could indicate a digestive issue. Diabetes or digestive problems might cause your dog to eat more but still lose weight. Knowing the dog's patterns can help the veterinarian determine a course of treatment.



    Senior Dog Health: Flea, Tick, and Heartworm Medicines

    Continue to use preventive medicines.



    Senior Dog Health: Dental Health

    Clean your dog's teeth daily. If she has tartar buildup, you might need to have her teeth professionally cleaned at your vet's office, which requires sedating your pet.



    Senior Dog Health: Exercise

    Your dog is probably less active, so steady, moderate exercise is best for her now. Don't turn her into a "weekend warrior" who, after lying around on weekdays, accompanies you on a 10-mile hike on Saturdays. This is especially hard on an older dog's joints.



    Senior Dog Health: Diet

    Your veterinarian might wish to put your dog on a senior diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Senior Plus. These formulations contain nutrients specifically geared toward older-dog health.

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