What is the Diet for Senior Dogs
Proper nutrition is essential for dogs at all life stages, as it can help maintain their health, prevent diseases, and even manage certain health conditions. Providing age-appropriate senior dog food is necessary to ensure your senior dog’s overall health.
We highly recommend consulting a veterinarian to obtain their professional advice on your senior dog’s needs, and they may suggest a specialised diet for them. Nevertheless, here are some things to look for in a good senior dog diet formula, as well as some benefits certain ingredients may have for your senior dog.
In addition to balance, there are a few factors that are critically important when choosing the best diet for your senior dog.
Should Senior Dogs Eat Senior Dog Food?
Determining what to feed your senior dog and whether to switch to senior dog food depends on various factors, and your veterinarian can help provide recommendations based on your dog’s health, disease risk, and lifestyle.
Feeding a senior dog serves two goals:
- Prevent or manage diseases
- Prolong their lifespan
If your dog has a nutrition-influenced health condition, it may be time to consider switching to senior dog food. This is a critical factor to consider when determining whether your senior dog requires a senior dog diet.
What Makes Senior Dog Food Different?
While the ingredients and nutrient profiles of senior dog food may differ from adult or all life stages dog food, it’s not always the case. On a dry matter basis, adult dog food typically contains 18-30% protein, which is similar to senior dog food, which contains 18-23%. However, senior dog food may include specific nutrients and other ingredients that can help manage or prevent certain diseases.
Senior dog foods differ from adult or life stage dog foods in that they may also such beneficial ingredients. It’s important to carefully read the labels of dog food and consult with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes to ensure that your senior dog’s specific needs are being met.
What Diseases Can Senior Dog Food Help Manage?
There are several diseases that affect senior dogs, and many of them can be influenced or controlled by nutrition, including:
- Dental disease
- Kidney disease
- Skin diseases
- Certain cancers
Nutritional changes can help slow down disease progression in some cases, while in others, they may help alleviate symptoms associated with the condition.
For example, senior dogs with dental disease may benefit from senior dog dry foods with a particular kibble shape, size, and texture that reduce plaque buildup. These senior dog dry foods may contain added ingredients that specifically control dental disease. If your senior dog has lost many of its teeth or has few teeth left, your veterinarian might suggest giving them a canned food variety to make eating easier and more comfortable.
Senior dogs with arthritis may benefit from senior dog foods with added ingredients that benefit the joints, such as glucosamine hydrochloride, chondroitin sulfate, and long-chain omega-3 fatty acids (eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA), eicosatetraenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), to name a few. Supplements containing these ingredients may be recommended for your senior dog if a therapeutic diet is not suggested.
For senior dogs with kidney disease, a high-quality senior dog food with low but quality protein may be recommended, and in some cases, a therapeutic diet may be suggested by the veterinarian.
The importance of senior dog food for senior dogs
Dogs’ nutritional needs change as they age, so it is increasingly important for them to have a specific diet that meets their changing needs. Here are a few advantages of implementing senior dog food into your senior dog’s diet:
Healthy senior dog bones: Senior dogs require a diet rich in calcium, phosphorus, and other minerals in order to maintain healthy and strong bones as they age. As senior dogs age, they become less able to absorb these nutrients from their food; this is why a senior dog food formula is needed.
Healthy senior dog joints: Senior dogs are more prone to joint problems and arthritis, so choose a senior dog food that contains ingredients to support joint health, such as glucosamine and chondroitin.
Healthy senior dog digestion: Senior dogs may suffer from constipation and stomach issues due to an aging digestive system and gut health, so look for a senior dog food that is easy to digest and contains fibre to promote healthy digestion.
Healthy senior dog teeth: Gum disease and other dental problems become more common in senior dogs, so choose a senior dog food that helps keep teeth and gums healthy, such as a senior dog food formula with crunchy kibbles or dental chews.
Healthy senior dog weight: Maintaining a healthy weight is especially important for senior dogs, as obesity can lead to serious health problems. With a slower metabolism, senior dogs may require less food to maintain a healthy weight, and it’s recommended to consult with a veterinarian to determine the ideal weight for your senior dog and how to achieve it.
Changes in senior dog metabolism: One of the most noticeable changes you’ll notice as your dog ages is a shift in their metabolism. Just like humans, dogs’ metabolism slows down as they age. This means your senior dog will begin to burn calories at a slower rate, requiring less food as a result.
Choosing the Right Senior Dog Food
When choosing senior dog food, it is advisable to consult with your veterinarian first to ensure that your dog is prepared and there are no specific recommendations to consider before switching to senior dog food.
Here are some tips for making your dog’s transition to senior dog food easier.
Use the Senior Version of Current Dog Food
To make the switch to senior dog food easy for your senior dog, consider using the senior version of their current dog food, which has the same brand, variety, and texture. A lot of dog food brands offer senior dog food variants of their mature adult dog foods, which can help prevent digestive issues that may occur from a dietary change.
Choose Senior Dog Food Similar to Current Dog Food
If a senior version of your dog’s current food is not available, you can look for senior dog food with similar ingredients and nutrient profiles. For instance, if your dog has been eating a beef and rice kibble, try finding dry senior dog food with similar ingredients.
In case your veterinarian recommends a different formulation, brand, or variety, carefully examine the ingredients and choose a senior dog food that aligns with your senior dog’s specific requirements.
Choose Size or Breed-Specific Senior Dog Food
Depending on the brand, senior dog food is usually available in small and large breed varieties. For small dogs, it’s recommended to look for a small breed senior dog food, and the same goes for larger breeds. These diets are formulated with size-specific or breed-specific needs in mind, including specific kibble shape, size, and texture, or added ingredients for diseases that are more likely to affect dogs of different sizes or breeds.
Consult Your Veterinarian for Special Conditions
If your senior dog has a health condition that is influenced by nutrition or is at risk of certain diseases based on their health and lifestyle, your veterinarian may recommend a therapeutic or prescription diet. These diets require a prescription from your veterinarian.
Even though these diets are not usually referred to as senior dog diets, they are formulated to treat diseases that commonly affect senior dogs. They may contain specific ingredients or have formulation differences that are not found in over-the-counter varieties. It is important to heed your veterinarian’s advice to ensure your dog receives the best possible nutrition for their particular needs.
Gradually Transition to a New Senior Dog Food
When switching your senior dog’s food, it’s important to make the transition gradually over a period of 7-10 days or more, with complete transition by 14 days. If your senior dog is prone to digestive issues, take more time to introduce the new food by gradually increasing the amount of new senior dog food and reducing the old dog food. If your senior dog experiences vomiting, diarrhea, or loss of appetite, stop the new senior dog food diet and contact your veterinarian.
Consult Your Veterinarian before Changing Your Senior Dog’s Diet
With a wide range of senior dog food options available, it can be difficult to determine the best choice for your senior dog. It is important to select the right food based on your senior dog’s unique requirements, existing health conditions, and disease risk factors, as well as their lifestyle. To make the best decision, always consult with your veterinarian before making any dietary changes for your senior dog.
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