The first year is vital to the healthy development of puppies and kittens. The nutrition they receive now will impact their health for the rest of their lives. Learn about their nutritional needs and how Royal Canin® can provide the perfect start to life for your pet in this article.
KITTEN NUTRITION EXPLAINED: PROVIDING A PERFECT START TO LIFE
Your kitten has unique nutritional needs compared to an adult cat. In this article, find out how you can support them at each stage of their life with the right food choices.
Each stage of a cat’s life brings unique dietary requirements. So, in order to give them the best possible start in life, your kitten’s diet should be tailored to the specific needs of their life stage.
Nutrition for your kitten from birth to 4 months
During this period, your kitten is going through an intense growth spurt. To fuel the development of their skeleton, muscles and organs, they have specific nutritional needs.
In the early weeks, they’ll suckle from their mother and receive colostrum – a milk-like fluid which supports their immunity – followed by milk. Starting at around four weeks, you can begin to transition them to a solid food as they start to show interest in it and their ability to digest lactose wanes.
During this time, you can give them a food specifically designed for kittens, with the right mix of required nutrients, including the 11 essential amino acids which support muscle and cell growth, as well as healthy skin, hair and claws. Cats can’t synthesize these amino acids, so it’s essential their food provides them with ‘complete’ nutrition.
Until 12 – 16 weeks old, depending on their breed, kittens are growing and gaining weight rapidly, and therefore have extremely high energy requirements; around three times that of an adult cat. But as a kitten’s digestive system is not yet mature, they need an energy-dense food which doesn’t include unnecessary bulk, as this can cause digestive distress.
Shop Royal Canin tailored nutrition for kittens at Chico!
Your kitten’s diet from 4 to 12 months
At this stage in their development, your kitten’s energy needs will be reducing gradually, although they still need much more than an adult cat. During this period, adult teeth replace your cat’s milk teeth and their digestive system matures, so they’re now able to chew and eat solid foods more easily.
However, a cat’s digestive system still only accounts for 3% of their bodyweight – compared to 11% of a human’s – which means it can be quick to become upset by a new food or stress. Your kitten’s food and feeding at this time should be consistent: the same food, in the same place, in a peaceful and stress-free environment.
Over this period your kitten is at the peak of its weight gain, increasing in size by 100g a week at the age of four to five months. It’s important to monitor their weight closely so they don’t increase in size too rapidly and risk becoming obese. You can help prevent this by making sure you only give them the recommended portion of kibble or wet food each day.
Your cat and their diet from 1 year onwards
As a fully matured adult, your cat now has very different nutritional needs from their early days. Their energy requirements are much lower, and several other factors should be considered: their lifestyle, such as whether they’re an indoor or outdoor cat, their breed, gender, and whether they are neutered or not.
Every cat still has nutritional needs which must come from their diet. This includes the essential amino acid, taurine, which is only available from animal sources, and vitamin A and D which continue to support your cat’s health. Find more information at www.royalcanin.com
Your cat’s nutritional needs will change significantly over its lifetime, but if you’re ever unsure of the best food for them, ask your vet who’ll be happy to help.
PUPPY NUTRITION EXPLAINED: PROVIDING A PERFECT START TO LIFE
An adult dog and a puppy have very different nutritional needs. Find out exactly what your puppy needs from its diet at each stage in its development.
During the first stages of its life, a puppy’s nutritional needs are very different from its requirements as a healthy, adult dog. The right food should give your puppy everything it needs to develop effectively at key points in its growth, without you having to give them any supplements.
Nutrition for 1-month old puppies
At this age, a puppy needs plenty of support for its natural defenses. Between four and 12 weeks of age, puppies enter an ‘immunity gap’ phase where the protection they’ve received from their mother’s milk begins to wane but their own ability to develop a strong immune system isn’t fully developed. The nutrition you give them during this time can provide natural boosters, like vitamin E and vitamin B. Other nutrients, like mannan-oligosaccharides, help support the development of beneficial ‘good bacteria’ in their delicate digestive system.
Shop Royal Canin puppy specialized formulas at Chico!
Puppies at 2 months old and their nutrition
At two months, the focus should be on aiding the development of your puppy’s skeletal structure. For this they need calcium and phosphorus in carefully regulated amounts; these help their skeleton grow effectively, which is essential for their overall health and particularly important in larger dogs, whose bones carry a lot of muscle and body tissue.
Nutrition at 4 months old
Your puppy’s skeleton is still developing at this stage, so they still need the right nutritional balance of calcium and phosphorus in their diet. Puppies absorb calcium passively – their bodies can’t regulate how much they take in – and so when they’re under six months old, they can’t protect themselves against excessive intake. Overabsorption of calcium can result in several skeletal deformities, so stick to the recommended guidelines: 0.5g of calcium for every kilo in body weight each day.
Puppies and their nutrition at 7 months old
By this time your puppy will be starting to build its body mass, so their nutritional requirement now is for protein. However, it needs to be the right sort; a high-quality and easily digestible protein to make it easy for their bodies to absorb and re-use the amino acids, building healthy body tissue and antibodies. The protein to calorie ratio should be higher in a puppy’s diet than in that of an adult dog because they’re growing rapidly. Without protein, they can suffer reduced natural defenses, poor skin and fur, and remain under-developed. Keep an eye on their portion sizes to make sure they don’t become overweight during this crucial phase.
Nutrition for 10-month-old puppies
X-small and small breed dogs will be nearing their adult stage by 10 months old, whereas larger dogs still have a while to go. All dogs at this point need nutritional support for their joints, particularly large and giant dogs, as their muscles will be filling out and exerting pressure on their skeleton. Glucosamine and chondroitin are two important nutrients; these help to nourish the cartilage and the fluid which helps with normal joint function.
If you’ve given your puppy the right, nutritionally-balanced food through those critical early months, while following recommended feeding amounts, by the time it reaches adulthood it should be a healthy and happy dog. Find more information at https://www.royalcanin.com
If you are unsure on how best to feed your puppy to ensure they are given the best nutrition for their age and lifestyle, speak to your vet who will be able to offer recommendations.