Dear Daisy Dog: When should I transition my new puppy, Luke, from puppy food to adult dog food?

Daisy responds: Until Luke reaches full skeletal maturity, he should continue eating a diet that provides complete and balanced nutrition for growth.

Look on the product label for a statement saying the food meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials, or AAFCO, guidelines for "growth" or "all life stages," which includes the growth phase.

The skeletons of dogs that are small- to medium-sized when full-grown (defined as less than 70 pounds) mature by about 12 months of age. Dogs that are large or giant when full-grown take longer to mature; their bones finish growing at 15 to 18 months of age.

Large- and giant-breed puppies have different calcium requirements than small- and medium-breed pups. So in the coming year, labels for growth and all-life-stage diets will phase in wording that designates whether the food is intended for all puppies, regardless of expected adult weight, or just those anticipated to weigh less than 70 pounds.

Diets may meet AAFCO guidelines in one of two ways: 1) The food can be formulated according to a recipe that stipulates minimum and maximum levels of major nutrients, or 2) the diet then can be tested in pets, which undergo physical exams and lab work to ensure that the food delivers what it promises, for example, supporting healthy growth.

Remember that dog treats and people food unbalance a balanced diet, so they should constitute less than 10 percent of Luke's caloric intake.

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Dear Christopher Cat: My 10-year-old cat, Chester, no longer jumps onto the furniture, and I'm concerned he has arthritis. Would it help to give him a small amount of children's Tylenol liquid medication? What is the appropriate dose for a medium-sized cat?

Christopher responds:
Arthritis is surprisingly common in us cats, especially as we age. Equally surprising to many people is that Tylenol is toxic to cats. So don't ever give even a tiny dose to Chester.

Tylenol is a trade name for acetaminophen, which we cats don't metabolize like you humans do. In us, the drug causes red blood cell destruction, liver failure and death. Recent evidence suggests the drug has similar effects in ferrets.

Fortunately, veterinary medicine offers safer and more effective therapies for cats like Chester.

Supplements such as glucosamine, chondroitin and Adequan nourish joint cartilage and joint fluid. Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil) have anti-inflammatory effects.

Medications such as Onsior and meloxicam decrease inflammation and relieve pain. Gabapentin also relieves pain in cats.

Acupuncture and laser treatments benefit many cats with arthritis.

So make an appointment with your veterinarian to confirm Chester's condition and ask how best to manage it.

Ask the Vet's Pets appears Friday in the print edition of the Reading Eagle. The animal authors of the column live with Lee Pickett, V.M.D., who practices companion animal medicine. Contact them at www.askthevetspets.com.