As per AAFCO regulatory aspect in dog food labeling requirements, dog food brands labeled ‘all life stages’ have been formulated to meet the requirements of puppies/growth dogs.
Such food is also known as ‘complete and balanced dog food. All life stages formula is also sometimes used for adult dogs.
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Why I do not like ‘All life Stages’ dog food
I personally do not like brands labeled as ‘all life stages’ and marketed to adult dogs as they have a varying nutritional composition that makes them less suitable for adult dogs. For this reason, we have advised our readers in most pieces here to avoid brands such as a Purina Pro Plan Adult Complete Essential Shredded Blend Chicken and Rice. This brand is marketed as adult dog food yet its formulation meets the requirements of growing dogs NOT adult/maintenance dogs.
Example of All Life stages dog food:
No surprise to see pet parents still giving this brand high ratings – I don’t believe all the reviews that make up the average rating of 4.7/5 by over 7k pet parents were informed of the exact meaning of ‘all life stages’ in dog food formulation.
Below is an image of the Purina Pro Plan marketed as adult dog food but is in reality formulated to meet the needs of puppies.
Below is the formulation of ‘all life stages’ dog food suited for puppies;
Below is a formulation most suited for adult dogs made by the same company Purina.
The nutritional details through the guaranteed analysis provided by Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Chicken & Rice Formula Dry Dog Food
Compared to Purina All Life stages, Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Brand suited for adults is different in the following ways;
- Less calcium: Adults require less calcium compared to puppies and the ‘all life stages’ brand has more calcium as it is formulated to meet the nutritional needs of puppies.
So, What is “All Life Stages” in dog food?
‘All life stages’ in dog food simply means that the food is formulated to meet the requirements of puppies/growth dogs but can be given to adult and senior dogs as well. Most kibble brands market these ‘all life stages’ recipes as complete and balanced but are really only complete and balanced for puppies.
The problem with this labeling is that it can be misleading to pet parents. For example, a food may be marketed as an ‘adult dog food’ but its formulation meets the requirements of growing dogs.
While ‘all life stages’ food can technically be given to adult and senior dogs, it is not the best diet for them. The nutritional needs of puppies are different from that of adult and senior dogs.
Puppies vs adult dogs vs senior dogs nutritional requirements;
- High protein, high-calorie & high-fat diet: Puppies need a high-protein, high-calorie diet to support their rapid growth. Puppies also need a high-fat content in their diet to help them absorb and use essential fatty acids for proper development.
- Essential nutrients: Puppies need certain essential nutrients, such as calcium and phosphorus, for proper bone and teeth development. Puppies also need higher levels of certain vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A and iron, than adult dogs
Protein needs: Adult dogs need less protein than puppies because they are no longer growing.
Fat needs: Fat is an important source of energy for adult dogs. It helps keep their coat and skin healthy and can also aid in the absorption of certain vitamins.
Vitamin & mineral needs: Adult dogs need different levels of vitamins and minerals than puppies. For example, they need less calcium and phosphorus than puppies because their bones are fully developed.
Protein needs: Senior dogs often need even less protein than adult dogs because they may be less active and have a slower metabolism.
Vitamin & mineral needs: Senior dogs may need different levels of vitamins and minerals than adult dogs. For example, they need more vitamin E to help keep their immune system strong.
So, as you can see, the nutritional needs of puppies are different from that of adult and senior dogs. That’s why it’s important to choose a food that is specifically formulated for your dog’s life stage.
Benefits of ‘All life stages’ to consumers and manufacturers;
- Cheaper: One of the benefits of ‘all life stages’ food is that it is cheaper for consumers because they only have to buy one type of food for their dog.
- Convenience: Another benefit of ‘all life stages’ food is that it is more convenient for consumers because they only have to buy one type of food for their dog. But this is lazy parenting if any dog owner actually purchases all-life brands for the purpose of convenience and not nutritional suitability.
Drawbacks of ‘All life stages’ to consumers and manufacturers;
- Not complete and balanced for all dogs: The biggest drawback of ‘all life stages’ food is that it is not complete and balanced for all dogs. As we’ve seen, the nutritional needs of puppies are different from that of adult and senior dogs.
- That’s why it’s important to choose a food that is specifically formulated for your dog’s life stage. Incomplete and unbalanced diets can lead to health problems in dogs, such as obesity, joint problems, and digestive issues.
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Hi there! My name is Ben Domb, an owner of two pets and I am one of the co-founders of OurPets HQ. I have several years of experience as a pet care professional in the New England region having spent time in various roles including a stint at a veterinary hospital in Upstate New York, Syracuse area. I am a certified pet care professional and mostly spend my time researching pet nutrition and sharing my thoughts in various blogs and columns. With quarantine and COVID restrictions, I have been spending a lot of time a lot with my dogs and cat and loving it! I also run a small consulting business providing advice to parents on pet nutrition, and especially safe homemade options to try. You can reach me at email@example.com