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Dogs and cats should be fed according to their specific nutritional needs. Cats are not small dogs and have very different nutritional requirements than dogs, whereas dogs have nutritional needs more similar to people than cats.
As your pet ages from birth into adolescence and adulthood and finally becomes geriatric, their nutritional requirements change. These changing nutritional needs have been called “life stage nutrition” and are the logic behind diets designed for growth, maintenance, reproduction, and the geriatric stage pet. Life stage nutrition is feeding diets designed to meet the optimal nutritional requirements of animals at different ages or physiological states.
Diets fed to growing animals should be specifically designed to have a higher concentration of nutrients because young, growing animals have nutritional requirements not just for maintaining their current body mass, but also for making new tissue. Yet, young animals have a volume limitation: despite increased nutritional needs, young, growing animals have a small gastrointestinal capacity when compared to adults, so their diets must contain increased concentrations of nutrients
Diets fed to adult animals are designed to meet the nutritional needs of the average dog or cat. In fact, the average adult maintenance diet may provide more nutrients and calories than needed by the average dog or cat. Most pets are neutered and have limited opportunity for exercise, hence more than half of the dogs and cats in the
Adult pets that are not neutered have higher daily energy requirements than pets that have been spayed or castrated. Dogs that are pregnant (gestating) generally have a 10-20% increase in nutritional requirements in the last 20 days of pregnancy, and pregnant cats have a 10-20% increase steadily throughout the 63-day gestating period.
Lactating dogs and cats have greatly increased nutritional requirements for energy. Their caloric need can be increased by a factor of 2 to 8 times over non-reproducing requirements depending on how many young are nursing.
Pets are generally considered to be a senior in the last half of their expected life span. An indoor 12 year old cat may be considered a senior animal as its life expectancy is approximately 18-20 years. When a dog is considered a senior depends upon the breed as smaller breeds have longer life spans than large and giant breeds.