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The Best Food for Pets of All Ages

Adult Cats and Dogs

Cats are meat eaters and need diets that are high in animal protein. Your cat should not become a vegetarian, because they need amino acids like taurine, arginine, methionine, and tyrosine that come from an animal source. The food you choose for your cat should also have fat, which provides energy and vitamins A, D, and E.

Your dog must have water, protein, fat, carbs, and some vitamins and minerals to be healthy. The amount of food they need will depend on their size and how active they are. Ask your vet to help you figure out how much to give and what kind of food would be best.

Animals that are pregnant or have recently given birth will need a high-calorie food. Cats often lose weight as they nurse their kittens, so they need to gain as much as 50% of their pre-pregnancy weight before they give birth.

Kittens and Puppies

Kittens and puppies typically drink their mother’s milk until they are 7 to 8 weeks old. You can introduce small amounts of kitten or puppy food around 3 or 4 weeks. Be sure to give your young pets specially formulated food, because as they grow, cats and dogs need extra nutrients and calories.

When they are 1 year old, you can begin to give your cat or dog adult food. Really big dogs, like Great Danes and mastiffs, may continue to grow until they’re 18 months old, so they should eat puppy food for longer.  

Senior Pets

Your cat or dog may have different nutritional needs as they get older. In general, pets can be considered “senior” when they are around 7 years old.  Large dogs age more quickly and may enter their senior years when they are 6 years old.

You’ll want to take your senior pet to the vet for a thorough checkup more often. While you’re there, ask for advice about food. Your cat or dog might be among the many pets in the U.S. that need to lose weight. However, in older animals, weight loss can also be a problem. Food for senior pets can be easier to digest, have different ingredients and nutrients, and help with weight control.