Caring for Animals at Every Stage of Life | Current problem

Yesou would not give a baby the same food and toys that you give a teenager. So why would you want to take care of a puppy the same way you care for an adult dog? As our animals grow and change, the products we use to care for them should change as well.

“There are several stages in the life of dogs and cats, the most famous of which are puppies or kittens, adults and seniors,” says Jen Beechen, vice president of marketing for feeds ORIJEN and ACANA. “There are other stages in life that also require different nutrition, such as the prenatal and postnatal stages for females. Each stage of life requires unique and targeted nutrition for optimal health.

Carrying pet products, such as food, treats, and toys, designed with specific life stages in mind can help customers avoid confusion and successfully navigate one more market. more crowded.

“By nature, customers want to do the right thing and provide their pets with high quality food,” says Danielle Opetz, pet nutritionist at Fromm Family Foods. “Life stage specific products take some of the guesswork out of them and give them the confidence that they are feeding a complete and balanced diet that is right for their pets. “

Retailers can also build lifelong customer loyalty by acting as expert guides through every stage of their pets’ lives.

“In addition to stocking these products, it’s important for retailers to educate store associates about the importance of proper nutrition for dogs and cats at different stages of life,” says Susan G. Wynn DVM, DACVIM (Nutrition) and Scientific Director of Instinct Pet Food. “When retailers combine the right assortment of specific products for each stage of life with educated and helpful store associates, pet parents will get the best nutrition for their pets. “

Puppy / Kitten

Growing up is a lot of work and requires a lot of energy, which is why puppies and kittens need food that can meet this nutritional demand. On average, dogs are considered puppies until they are around one year old, while the kitten lasts around six months.

“Puppies and kittens make and organize new tissues like bones and muscles, and if the necessary nutrients are not available there are lifelong consequences such as permanent deformities,” says Wynn. “These demands are to be met by providing higher levels of many nutrients, in particular – but not limited to – protein, calories and calcium.”

It is also important to remind owners that different breeds age at different rates. For example, large breed dogs like Great Danes or Labrador Retrievers, remain puppies longer (up to 24 months) and therefore have different nutritional needs than their small or medium sized counterparts.

“Since large breeds typically take longer to reach full adult size, it is crucial to support slow and steady growth, which is why you will find that some of the mineral content, like calcium and phosphorus, is lower in food. [formulated] specifically for large breed puppies, like the ORIJEN Large Breed recipe, ”explains Beechen.


For pets, adulthood begins at the end of growth and lasts until they reach their golden years – between six and 10 years old. During this time, it is about maintaining their health and preventing disease.

Another major concern for parents of adult pets is avoiding obesity. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, the percentage of dogs diagnosed as overweight or obese increased from 16% in 2011 to 34% in 2020. For cats, the percentage increase was even greater, from 18% to 38% in during the same period. This is why it is important to choose formulas with a good balance between fruits, vegetables and proteins and without excess nutrients.

“We don’t want to overfeed the essential nutrients that puppies and kittens need in high amounts,” says Wynn. “A growth diet often exceeds the nutritional needs of adults, resulting in unhealthy weight gain and potentially other excess nutrients. Giving extra nutrients at this age does not prevent any disease and can potentially be harmful. “


Another often overlooked stage in life is motherhood. While not all pets carry or give birth to a litter of cubs, some do have their own unique needs to maintain both their own health and that of their babies.

“During gestation, lactation and growth, a pet’s dietary needs change significantly, as this period is the most demanding on the body,” says Opetz. “During this period, pets need a higher level of nutrients, including increased levels of protein (amino acids), fats such as EPA and DHA to improve cognitive function, and minerals. such as calcium, iron and manganese to support skeletal development. “


The last change in animals’ needs occurs when they reach the senior stage of life and begin to physically slow down.

“Senior dogs often need a diet high in protein to promote lean muscle mass and low in fat to help maintain weight, as metabolism tends to slow down with age,” explains Beechen. “ORIJEN Senior is a high protein diet that contains less fat than the other foods specific to the stages of life in the ORIJEN range. “

As pets age, they are also more likely to develop chronic health conditions, such as arthritis, heart disease, or cancer. Many senior-specific products contain ingredients to support their health and treat their symptoms.

“For example, Instinct Raw Longevity 7+ for Dogs contains turmeric as well as mussel and chicken Perna cartilage for healthy joints, improved vitamin D levels for proper immune system balance, and lemon balm and lemon balm. ‘coconut oil for healthy brain function,’ says Wynn. “Instinct Raw Longevity 7+ for Cats contains higher levels of vitamin B12 and a unique source of protein for stomach problems that so often plague older kittens.”

Lifetime sales

While specific life stage labels on products can go a long way in helping customers find the right items for their pets, retailers shouldn’t depend on this alone to drive category sales. Emma Kumbier, veterinary outreach coordinator at Primal Pet Foods, suggests creating niche sections for different stages of life in the store.

“From a consumer perspective, marketing makes a huge difference,” she says. “Niche sections for puppies, adults and seniors rather than merging everything together. These niche sections can also include items for “all stages of life” or items like kibble toppings that can be used at any stage of life. ”

Seasonal displays can also be an effective tool to grab the attention of customers and educate them about the many benefits of products for specific life stages.

“Adoptions of puppies and kittens generally increase in the spring. featuring the essentials – pee pads, litter boxes, crates, beds, food and treats – are a great way to showcase products specially formulated for young pets, ”says Beechen. “There are also many awareness days throughout the year to tap into. For example, November is Senior Pet Month, which gives retailers the opportunity to have a conversation about recipes for senior citizens.

Overall, the category is expected to continue to grow as researchers and owners learn more about the needs of pets throughout their lives.

“As more and more parents see their pets as part of the family, marketing will likely continue to hang on to that narrative and increase the targeted life stage approach to labeling individual items, ”Kumbier adds.. PB

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