Group of dogs sitting in front of hedge

Do dogs need personalized nutrition?

You know that your pup is one-of-a-kind, but does their food need to be?

By Rudy Leschke —

6 minute read

health + nutrition

You know your dog is one-of-a-kind, but does their food need to be? While the basic nutrient requirements don’t vary much across different dog breeds, individual dogs have individual needs. Size, age, and activity level all play a role in determining the best diet for your unique pup.

Breed Size:  

Dog size should always be taken into consideration when determining the right diet for your furry family member. In large breed dogs, optimal growth rate for proper skeletal development is especially important, and feeding too many calories may result in growth issues. Excessive calcium intake has also been shown to result in significant skeletal abnormalities in large breeds. That’s why diets specifically formulated for large breed puppies have been developed. Adult large breed dogs are also susceptible to conditions that can be influenced by their diets. These include orthopedic disease, joint health issues, obesity (which can cause undue joint stress), and bloat, or gastric dilatation volvulus (GDV). All of these potential conditions are considered when designing a food for large breed dogs.

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Just like their large breed counterparts, smaller dogs also benefit from size-specific formulations. Foods designed for small and toy breeds (typically dogs weighing 20 lbs or less) can help address specific needs related to their smaller stature. Small and toy breed dogs have higher energy requirements (per pound of body weight) than larger breeds. They also require a higher energy and nutrient density to easily meet growth or maintenance requirements due to their smaller stomachs. And, small breeds usually live much longer than larger breeds, so a diet rich in antioxidants could help prevent free radical damage over their longer lifespan.

"Nutritionists know that every dog is different & has their own nutritional needs & priorities."

-Dr. Emily Luisana, DVM

Life Stage:  

Your dog’s nutritional needs will change over the course of their lifetime. For puppies, diets need to be formulated to support the growth and development of organs and bodily functions, while adult diets are designed more to support the maintenance of routine health. Puppies require higher levels of protein and fat as well as other nutrients, and additional supplementation of key fatty acids, amino acids and dietary antioxidants is also recommended for the benefits these can provide during this growth stage.

Senior dogs generally need the same nutrients required by adult dogs, but the quantities and delivery of these nutrients may need to change. For example, the decrease in lean body mass that occurs with aging results in a loss of protein reserves, so older dogs need higher levels of dietary protein for body maintenance and to minimize losses of lean body tissue. Reductions in fat are recommended for senior dogs to compensate for reduced energy needs, but senior dogs still require adequate levels of essential fatty acids, so fatty acid balance must be adjusted. There is also evidence of age-related declines in immune system function of senior dogs, so including nutrients that have beneficial effects on immune response may help influence the rate of decline.

Illustration of a brown dog jumping for a frisbee

Activity Levels:  

As activity levels decrease, so does your dog’s calorie requirement. Continuing to feed less active dogs the same amount designed for normal activity could result in obesity. Pet parents can help their pups achieve an ideal weight by reducing the amount normally fed, but overfeeding is still common, and can lead to weight gain. Feeding a diet specifically designed for weight control makes it easier to balance lower activity levels with food energy needs without having to significantly reduce the amount fed.


Tailored's nutrition experts strive to make it easy to give your dog the right nutrients to be their healthiest, happiest self. Our quiz was designed to collect the right information needed to provide pet parents with personalized nutrition for their pup’s unique health needs. As always, please consult your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your pet’s health. 

Also check out the Pups 101 section of our website for more information about specific dietary needs and many other topics related to your furry family member.

One quick quiz.  A lifetime of results:

With the myriad of options in the pet store, finding the right balance for your dog’s individual needs can be time consuming and confusing. Tailored® takes out the guess work by sending the personalized nutrition your pup needs right to your door. Simply click here to tailor your pup's recipe for greatness today.


About the author

With more than 30 years of experience in product development for leading super and ultra premium pet food brands, Rudy is an expert in companion animal nutrition and pet food safety. At Tailored, Rudy lends his decades of Research and Development experience and background in engineering to ensure that each Tailored recipe is personalized to meet the specific nutritional requirements of each pet.

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