As my dogs ages, I want to make sure that I give him the best care that I can. Because nutrition is key to my dogs health I went looking for information about ageing dogs and what the best dog food for an older dog is. Heres what I found.
When is my dog old?
We generally consider dog to be older or senior dogs in the last third of their normal life expectancy.
Large breeds like St Bernards are expected to live to about 9 years old, therefore we would consider them to be senior at around 6 years of age. Smaller dogs like little terriers and poodles, can live up to 15 years and sometimes much longer. Smaller dogs would be considered senior much later at around 10 years of age.Some dogs may not act very senior and their behaviour and health may vary greatly depending of their genetics, nutrition and fitness.
What changes shall I expect in my older dog?
- Joint and Arthritic problems
- Short tempered and grumpy
- Loss of sight and hearing
- Muscle weakness
- Dental issues
- Weight gain
How dog food can help with your dogs ageing process
Weight gain as your dog ages can mostly be controlled by how we feed our older dog. Dogs will generally gain weight due to the decrease in activity. Your dog may tired more quickly and play for shorter periods.
It is important to try to keep your dog’s weight under control. Gaining weight will put extra strain on their older joints and cause pain. The extra kilos will put strain on your dog’s cardiovascular system and heart. Maintaining a healthy weight will ensure you give your dog a good quality of life in the older years.
It is important that your older dog’s diet is lower in calories. To lower your dogs calories try:
- Feed your dog less
- Change to a formulated senior dog food
Older dogs may develop gastrointestinal issues including constipation. A diet high in fiber is recommended.
As your dog get older, he may develop some form of dental or gum disease. This may make it harder for your dog to chew his dry food. Try switching to a smaller kibble or moistening his food with water. You may also add some wet food, broth or raw food to his diet. Read more about your dogs dental health here.
Kidney and Liver disease
This can be very serious, your vet can advise on how to best deal with this. Generally a diet lower in protein will be required if your dog developed kidney or liver problems.
Dogs with diabetes need foods that are absorbed more slowly so that blood sugar levels rise more slowly. A senior dog’s diet that is lower in fat and higher in fiber is best for dogs with diabetes.
Homemade dog food for older dogs
If you are making your own dog food at home, ensure that you use a good dog food recipe because it is important to get the nutritional profile right with all the vitamin and minerals that your dog needs.
Supplements for older dogs
An older dog may need different nutritional need that younger dogs. You may consider some of the following supplements for your older dog:
- Glucosamine and chondroitin supplement for joint pain
- Vitamins and mineral supplements for nutritional deficiencies
Fruit and Vegetables for older dogs
A great alternative as a snack for you dog. Adding fruit and vegetables to your dog’s food will help to lower calories and increase fiber in his diet.
Exercise for older dogs
Your older dog still needs his exercise. Choose an exercise that wis not going to cause your dog pain. Swimming is a great one if you have water nearby.
Get regular checkups as your dog ages. If you find your dog’s weight changes dramatically or he is in more pain than usual, go to your vet. Older dogs sometimes lose their appetite and stop eating and this can be serious. Your vet will check for any underlying health issues and may also suggest appetite enhancers, some tasty broth, chicken or an alternate food to get your dog eating.
5 Star recommendations from the Dog Food Advisor
If you want the best food for your senior dog, then try one of these 5 star rated dog foods for senior dogs.
I thought you might like this short video about our food and their dog heath from holistic health: