Life Stage Nutrition Guide

raw food for big and small dogs
Here at Cali Raw Nutrition, we believe in feeding a fresh raw diet optimized to meet your dog’s specific nutritional needs, for their current life-stage. Like humans, dogs experience various life stages including growth & reproduction and adult maintenance. During these various life stages, your dog's nutritional demands change. We believe it is beneficial to feed your dog based on their current life stage to ensure they are receiving the appropriate nutrition to enhance their health and longevity at that specific time in their life.

What Is Life Stage Nutrition?

Life Stage Nutrition is the practice of feeding animals foods that meet the optimal nutritional needs at different ages or physiological states of that animal (growth, reproduction, adulthood, or old age). Life state nutrition recognizes the existence of an optimal nutrient range for pets. This approach is consistent with the goals of nutrition: feeding for peak health, performance, and longevity. This is the key to life-stage nutrition and preventive medicine. In order to achieve life stage nutrition, the nutrient profile of the food established by AAFCO must be adapted to meet the specific requirements of each life stage.

What Is AAFCO?

AAFCO, The Association of American Feed Control Officials, is a voluntary membership organization of all 50 states and Federal government agencies, as well as government agencies from other countries, responsible for the execution of laws and regulations pertaining to the production, labeling, distribution, use, or sale of animal feed and feed ingredients. AAFCO does not regulate, test, approve or certify pet foods in any way. 

AAFCO establishes the nutritional standards for complete and balanced pet foods that manufacturers follow to formulate their products according to the appropriate AAFCO standard. These standards are defined by two nutrient profiles: Adult Maintenance and Growth or Reproduction


Why Is A Life State Specific Diet Important?

Most pet foods are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of puppies, as they have higher nutritional demands, and therefore are able to have the statement “formulated to meet the nutritional profile established by AAFCO for all life stages.” 

Products manufactured for all life stages contain nutrients and calorie levels designed to meet a pets greatest biological needs (growth and reproduction). In other words, when your adult or senior pet eats all-purpose food, they are most likely consuming more nutrients and calories than a less active pet needs. Feeding your dog a food that is above or below their optimal nutrient range may result in obesity or weight loss, subpar performance, and overall poor health. 

While it may be more convenient to offer the same formula regardless of age or activity level, if we really want our pets to thrive throughout theirwhole life, we believe we need to tailor the nutrition to the specific needs of each life stage of the animal.

The big influences pet owners have on their pets, with the goal of enhancing longevity and health, are 3 core factors: genetics, environment, and nutrition. First, genetics is something we have little to no control over. Next, environment is how and where the pet lives, and if they have access or lack of access to preventative care. Last, is nutrition, which has a direct impact on your dogs length and quality of life. For this reason, feeding your dog a life stage specific diet that is formulated to enhance their health is majorly beneficial. 

Life Stages:

Adult Maintenance

An adult dog is classified as being over 1 year in age, and up to 14-18 months for giant breeds. During this life stage, which is the longest of all, it is important to feed a complete & balanced diet specifically for the needs to maintain their physiological state. Adult dogs have less nutritional demands than that of puppies. They can be fed twice a day based on their ideal weight, which breed size and activity level taken into consideration. This stage includes senior dogs, who did great on a raw diet as well.

Growth & Reproduction (Puppy)

Dogs under the age of 1 year are considered puppies and fall into the growth & reproduction life stage. Puppies have higher nutritional demands than adult dogs, due to their high energy demands and growing bodies. They also require larger amounts of food, fed smaller meals more frequently. 

Puppies should eat 4 times a day until they are 4 months old, then 3 times a day until they are 6 months old, and then 2 times a day as they reach adulthood. Breed size makes a difference as well. Small to medium sized breeds are considered puppies till 12 months old, large breeds up to 16 months old, and giant breeds up to 24 months. As puppies mature at different rates depending on their breed, it is important to feed them accordingly. It is important to feed your puppy based on their ideal predicted adult weight. 

A diet formulated specifically for the nutritional demands of your growing puppy, including the growth of large breed dogs (dogs greater than 70 lbs. as adults) is formulated to meet the increased nutritional requirements of puppies as there is no more critical time to ensure proper nutrition, optimizing growth, minimizing obesity and avoiding developmental orthopedic diseases (large breed dogs), ensuring a healthy, long lived, adult dog. This is accomplished by preventing nutritional deficiencies or excess, as imbalances during this period are more detrimental than at any other period of your dog’s life.

Our Life Stage Specific Formulas:

Puppy Formula

puppy life stage food

Our Puppy Formula has increased Fatty Acids EPA & DHA fromSalmon Oil to assist in brain development and improve cognitive learning skills. It also has ideal Calcium Levels with a Calcium:Phosphorus ratio of 1.4:1. In addition, our Puppy Formula has enhanced antioxidants and vitamins to help with improved immune response to vaccinations and immune stimulation. Lastly, added L-Carnitine helps burn fat more efficiently and increases bone mass and bone density. All of these formulations are specific to the Puppy Formula and will assist with strengthening your puppies immune system, building a healthy gut, and meeting their growing needs. 

Adult Formula

Our Adult Formulas were formulated specifically to meet the nutritional needs of your dog’s current life stage. Our Adult Formulas have added inulin, an extract of chicory root, which can be characterized as a probiotic. It also has ideal levels of vitamins and minerals to enhance the immune system, support a healthy metabolism, prevent chronic diseases, and help with nerve and muscle function. Our adult formulas meet the nutritional needs of an adult dog without the extra calories and nutrients unnecessary for their current physiological state.