Why 'stage of life' dog food is a waste of money

Expensive isn't always better

You obviously want the best for your Jack Russell, and so you shop around looking for the best food. But the most expensive dog food on the supermarket shelf, or the one that makes the boldest claims, is sometimes the one not to reach for.

We get told repeatedly by adverts from commercial dog food companies that dogs have different nutritional requirements at different stages of their lives. Usually these claims about older dogs and their dietary needs are very vague at best.

The good news is that such 'stage of life' dog food is often no better than the cheaper stuff. There is very little difference in the nutritional needs of a younger dog and an older dog.

There is little evidence that glucosamine, for instance, has any benefit whatsoever to older dogs. It's often touted as a wonder supplement for aging joints, but there's just no need to supplement any extra in a canine diet.

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for adequate health, but a lot of the processing involved in manufacturing commercial dog food often has deleterious effects on its omega-3 fatty acid levels. This is because they are extremely sensitive to heat, something applied generously in the manufacturing process.

Jack Russell terriers may be much smaller and different in shape to other dog breeds, but they're still all part of the same canine species. The expensive 'smaller breed' dog food is not going to give him any significant effects, apart from denting a hole in your wallet.

In addition, adding extra fiber to your dog's diet may block his ability to absorb vital nutrients, although genuine canine constipation is a real issue in many dogs.

Also, contrary to another commonly-touted claim, senior dogs do not require less protein, but more. Maintenance of lean body mass at advanced age is critical for all mammals, and decreasing the amount of branched chain and essential amino acids in their diet could cause their organs serious damage.

The best thing you can do as a responsible dog owner is to feed your dog a balanced mix of whole foods, certain vegetables, and standard commercial dog food. There is simply no need to reach for the expensive 'tailor-made' dog foods.

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