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.
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
Our dogs get all the essential vitamins and minerals form the food they eat. It is therefor essential that we give them a good quality dog food. As dogs age, their vitamin and mineral requirements change. Here are several ways which dog food can have an effect on your ageing dog.
1. Weight Gain
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
2. Reduce Constipation
Older dogs may develop gastrointestinal issues including constipation. A diet high in fiber is recommended.
3. Dental disease
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.
4.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
- Omega 3, 6 and 9's
Here are three highly rated supplements that you may wish to try for your older dog.
1. Nutramax Cosequin DS PLUS MSM Chewable Tablets
Cosequin plays an important role in maintaining joint function for dogs. It is the #1 veterinarian recommended retail joint health supplement brand. The recommended initial administration period is four to six weeks; however, some dogs may respond sooner. With MSM, a naturally occurring, organic, sulfur containing compound. Cosequin maintains optimal joint function to increase joint mobility. Lastly it supports mobility for a healthy lifestyle in dogs of all ages, sizes, and activity levels.
2. Pet Tabs Original Formula Vitamin Supplement
This multi-vitamin for Dogs provides a dietary source of vitamins and minerals for better health and more energy. Pet-Tabs also provides a high quality source of protein. These are a chewable tablets that Dogs actually love.
3. Comfort Geriatric Tablets
Comfort Geriatric contains nineteen vitamins and minerals for the older pet to promote immunity against disease, foster optimum nutrition and aid older animals to live along and active life. The geriatric formula contains effective antioxidants plus Ester-C, a superior form of Vitamin C that does not cause acidity problems. A tasty, chewable tablet. Older dogs under go many physiologic changes, and because of these changes, it is recommended that they receive additional vitamins and minerals to supplement their diet.
4. Zesty Paws Pure Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
This Pure Salmon Oil from Zesty Paws is a natural fish oil supplement with vital nutrients that support the skin, coat, hips and joints, heart, and immune system. This premium Salmon Oil is rich with Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acid from EPA and DHA, which can help to keep skin and coats soft and healthy while also supporting overall health of your pet. The rich fatty acids found in Salmon Oil have been shown to support joint, heart, and immune function to keep your four-legged friend feeling lively and active every day, without the fuss
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. Dogs quite often like crunchy foods. My dogs is a huge fan of carrots, apples, broccoli stem's and edamame beans.
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.
1. Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior Dog Food - Dry
2. Holistic Select Natural Senior Dog Food - Dry
3. Dogswell LiveFree Senior Chicken Stew - Wet
I thought you might like this short video about our food and their dog heath from holistic health: