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A 'life-stage' diet is one designed to meet the nutritional requirements of dogs within a specific age group or during a specific physiological state such as pregnancy. For most companies this means providing a puppy food, adult food and senior food but some manufacturers take it much further with options for weaning, juniors, nursing, ageing dogs and all sorts of other life stages. Some brands, on the other hand, provide a single 'all life-stage' food to be used right from weaning through to old age. But which is the best approach?
There is a strong case for all life-stage foods since in the wild, very few animals eat different foods during youth or old age. Of course they may eat more or less of the same food but, in general, life-stage feeding is a fairly artificial concept.
Nevertheless, life-stage feeding does allow manufacturers to specialise their foods to help dogs at different points in their life. For example, most puppy foods include higher levels of protein and calcium to help with growth while senior foods often contain less calories as well as specific health supplements, particularly for the joints.
Basically, both approaches can work equally well so the decision on whether to go life-stage or not depends on your own preference and, of course, on your dog. While some dogs do benefit greatly from distinct diets at different points in their lives, others are much better off sticking to the same food throughout their lives. If in doubt, have a look at our FAQ under 'Do I need to change dog foods'.