Old dogs face many of the same health considerations as old humans. Because of this, dog owners need to be aware of the changing nutritional requirements of senior dogs. While it’s always best to talk to your vet when altering your dog’s diet, a well-informed pet owner should always have some background information. This is a general overview of the nutritional needs for senior dogs.
Why older dogs have specific nutritional needs
As our dogs age, their bodies undergo certain changes. Their metabolism starts to slow down and they need fewer calories. Some dogs will also experience joint pain or fatigue that will keep them from being as active as they were before. Older dogs also have older organs; while they may be generally healthy, normal wear and tear means special nutritional considerations to keep them functioning as long as possible. You may also want to consider buying them the best retractable dog leash for strong dogs. This will allow you and your dog to be convenient and comfortable.
How should I adjust my feeding schedule?
Many senior dogs do just fine on the same food they’ve been eating, but in smaller amounts. If your dog seems to be gaining weight without a change in the amount of food, it could be an indication that his metabolism is slowing down. Work with your vet to determine the new amount you should feed.
It is also important to make sure your senior dog is getting enough water. A well-hydrated dog will put less stress on their organs, particularly the kidneys. If your dog isn’t drinking enough water, you can always soak their dog food, or try adding some wet food to their routine.
What makes a senior dog food different?
Senior dog foods have three main differences that set them apart from dog food meant for puppies or adult dogs.
Lower Calories and Fat
Senior dog foods tend to have lower calories and less fat than food meant for puppies or adult dogs. Older dogs are often less active due to slower metabolism or joint pain, and so need less food overall to maintain a healthy weight.
Fiber bulks up food, making your dog feel fuller with less calories. Since older dogs are also prone to constipation, the increase in fiber will help make bowel movements easier.
Better Protein Sources
Senior dog foods often contain protein sources that are easier to digest. This takes stress off of the liver and kidneys. Better protein can also help maintain muscle mass, which can deteriorate in older dogs.
When should I switch to a senior dog food?
Generally, it’s best to talk to your vet about any diet change you might want to enact. If your dog just isn’t satisfied with a smaller amount of the same food, a senior food will allow you to more food with less calories. Maybe your dog is having trouble “going” and you’d like a higher-fiber dog food. Your vet may recommend switching if she suspects kidney problems or would like to stave off obesity. Whatever the reason, senior dog foods can be a great way to extend the life and health of your best furry friend.