Feeding Senior Dogs: What is the Best Food for an Older Dog?
When dogs reach the third stage of their lives, seniority, they need special care and attention; this includes a well-balanced diet specifically designed for older dogs.
To our four-legged friends the “old age” starts around the 8-9 years of age in medium and large-sized dogs, and 10 years in small-sized dogs.
During this period of existence, our fluffy loyal friends experience a change in their daily needs, such as feeding, so it is very important to modify their diet in order to keep them healthy.
First of all, we need to comprehend that the metabolism of a senior dog slows down 10-20%; its body mass reduces considerably and their fat percentage rises.
In addition, there is a significant decrease of physical activities in their lives, so as a result our pet friends frequently develop musculoskeletal diseases and have less energy in general; so it is easy to understand that senior dogs are prone to suffer from obesity and other related diseases.
Feeding Senior Dogs: How to Feed Your Senior Dog?
First we must clarify that the diet should not be changed from one day to another (this applies to puppies, adult and senior dogs), this process always must be done gradually; remember that the dog could experience some digestive disorders, such as diarrhea.
The food portions must be adjusted along the years; therefore sometimes you must decrease the amount of food according to the size of the dog or following the instructions of your veterinarian. It is recommended giving your dog pet its daily meal divided in two or three portions so we do not overload the senior dog’s digestive and intestinal tract.
When choosing the type of food for our older dogs, we must be careful with the quantities of carbohydrates, keep in mind that the blood sugar levels are hard to revert to normal levels; therefore the dog could have a high risk of getting diabetes, a recurrent disease on senior dogs.
The nutritional values, such as fibers are very important in the dog’s diet to keep a healthy gastrointestinal motility. Other essential nutrients, like high quality proteins must be present in the dog’s food (the amount should not be excessive so it does not overload the dog’s renal functions).
Moreover, if your dog eats dry foods, you must be careful with the one you choose; on the other hand, if it eats homemade foods, you must completely eliminate from its diet any table scraps, and increase the amount of light meats, such as chicken, which are easier to digest.
Feeding Senior Dogs: Which Diseases We Can Prevent?
There are some common diseases that can affect senior dogs, and we can keep them under control with the proper nutrition:
Gastrointestinal Motility Disorders
Usually, there is a link between gastrointestinal motility and a decrease of physical activity; as a result a senior dog could suffer from constipation problems. The correct amount of fibers (3-5%) can help regularize the intestinal functions; also we must encourage our dog to drink more water because a senior dog is prone to dehydration.
Over the years, a dog is more susceptible to suffer from infectious diseases. The aging processes can be delayed with a diet that has high quality proteins and antioxidants, such as vitamin E.
The diet of a senior dog with heart conditions must be focused on its weight in order to prevent diseases such as obesity. Also you must keep under control the amount of sodium in its food; otherwise your dog could suffer from excessive fluid retention.
You must choose foods with low phosphorus percentage and the correct amount of proteins, to prevent an overload of the dog’s kidney functions.
Senior dogs often suffer from osteoarthritis or other disorders of the locomotor system; in order to prevent these diseases, it is essential to avoid being overweight, which could be harmful to the dog’s joints. Also, you should add supplements such as chondroitin sulfate and glucosamine to your dog’s diet to protect the cartilaginous tissue.
The formation of dental calculus (tartar) in an older dog could cause gingivitis which can lead to difficulties when chewing food. This problem can be prevented with proper dental hygiene; a diet with dry and wet food can help clean the dog’s teeth.
Find a Professional
In this section, you can find: registered breeders, veterinarian hospitals, pet shops, walkers and dog sitters, professional dog day care, dog trainers, and dog groomers. The best professional will be the one that:
- Adjusts to your needs and schedule,
- You can contact through various ways,
- Works near your location,
- Is kind, attentive and answers all your questions,
- Works with good quality equipment.