Dogs need specific food and, sometimes, even a special diet to be active and healthy. While the food we consume is not always dog-friendly and can even be life-threatening for your little fluffy friend, you should create a specific plan or buy vet recommended dog food to support your pet with all necessary vitamins. However, things become even more complicated when your dog becomes older: it requires more attention and specific meals to feel good and satisfy their nutritional needs. Once your beloved friend reaches its golden years, it is your responsibility to take good care of what and how often it eats. In this guide, we will reveal some informative tips on how to feed your senior dog.
Top recommendations for senior dogs` feeding
When your dog gets old, its preferences and food recommendations also change. But what is the age when the dog is considered senior? In fact, there is no medically agreed age when the dog officially gets old: every pet is different, and this change depends on the animal’s weight and size. Usually, dogs of big breeds get older at the age of 6 while smaller ones tend to live a bit longer and thus become senior at the age of 9. The signs of aging include problems with skin and vision, memory loss, excessive drooling, weight loss (or its sudden gain), altered behavior, bad breath, and other things.
What is the actual difference between the food for young and old dogs? To tell the truth, some products are pretty much the same, just branded differently. Of course, there are certain things that help dogs cope with their physical and mental changes when they age, including nutrients, softer food that fights dental problems, and added antioxidants and supplements for the joints. On this list, we have included the top of products to pay attention to, but of course, it is always better to check with a vet before changing the menu:
Pets make use of protein to grow their hair, make their skin better, and build muscle mass based on hormones. It is also helpful for metabolism regulation and rebuilding tissues when they get damaged. Many brands producing food for dogs base their products on protein, the amount of which should be decreased when your dog ages. That is why you need to pick packs with 20% protein instead of 80 and even 100%. Besides, low-priced foods are usually more difficult for your pet to absorb;
Oils and fat-containing products are the basis of great taste and high energy. They help to assimilate A and D vitamins better, feel more satisfied with food, and improve the condition of your dog’s skin and fur. Special diets for older dogs usually contain around 15% fat, depending on the brand. If the coat of your dog looks dim, it probably needs to consume food with more fat percentage;
These are starch and sugar contained in plants. They give dogs more energy for playing around, having fun and exercising, and should make up more than half of the diet. They also provide an animal with such required by the organism fiber. Again, we don’t recommend foods at low prices as they don`t contain complex carbohydrates of high-quality and may bring an opposite effect;
All aging dogs should consume more vitamins to stay healthy as they help to fight different diseases, manage metabolism, and enrich organisms with minerals. Almost all branded foods already contain all necessary vitamins for the balanced meal that guarantee your dog`s well-being. You only need to keep in mind that for an older dog, it’s important to pick those that taste well and can be absorbed easily.
Peculiarities of the senior dog’s diet:
1. Fewer calories
When the pet is in its golden years, it loses muscles and gets fat instead, which means that you need to watch the calories included in their diet (up to 50% less). Older dogs basically are less energetic and are not so active, and if your dog keeps eating as much as usual, there may appear a risk of obesity;
2. Feeding frequency
Young dogs are usually fed twice a day, but when they reach their golden years, they prefer to eat more often but smaller amounts of food. It should be of room temperature to taste and smell good. You can also find some quiet place where your dog can enjoy its meal without being interrupted, and in case you have two or three dogs, have them eat separately. Give your dog easy access to the bowl with fresh, clean water during the day and night.
These are just general recommendations on things that should be taken into account when making changes in the dog’s diet. Of course, it is always better to consult a vet, especially if your dog has health problems or is allergic to some products or branded foods. Remember that getting older, your dog requires more of your attention and support.