One of the most misunderstood aspects of aging dogs is their nutritional requirements. Are you supposed to feed them a certain type of food? More than what they usually got when they were younger? Less? Nutritional requirements for senior canines can be a difficult topic to navigate.
Caring for senior dogs in general can be complicated, mostly because there are so many factors that can affect an aging dog, it can be difficult determining what its underlying problems are (and how to effectively treat and/or manage them). Arthritis, kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes are some of the more common illnesses that can affect senior dogs.
While kidney disease, arthritis, and cancer are some of the main illnesses that older dogs are most likely to contract, there’s a wide range of health problems that canines become susceptible to as they grow older. To help you understand senior dog care a bit more, and to arm you with the knowledge you’ll need to care for your aging pup, we’ve made this blog covering diet and health management for senior dogs.
Taking a Look at Your Senior Dog’s Diet
Managing your dog’s diet can be tricky, especially if it has food sensitivities/allergies, can’t digest a certain type of food, or has certain health problems. This is especially true for senior dogs because they have a completely different set of nutritional requirements than younger dogs.
One of the most obvious examples is protein. Older dogs require much more protein than younger dogs. But it’s not just protein, all of the essential macronutrients (e.g. carbs, fats, protein) have varying requirements in senior dogs. This means that when your dog becomes a “senior” canine (i.e. over 7 years old), you need to reevaluate what food you’re feeding it.
Numerous health problems can develop from improper dietary habits, and health problems that already exist can be further compounded by inadequate nutrition. So then, what’s the best type of food to feed a senior canine? Are there certain ingredients to avoid? Below we cover why the answers to these questions are more complicated than they might appear.
Obesity in Senior Dogs
Unfortunately, many dogs become obese as they age, which means they also develop obesity-related health problems (some of which can be fatal). Obesity is a major problem in the US, and the cause mainly lies in the diet. Dogs are simply being fed far too much (especially senior dogs - who require a lower caloric intake than their younger counterparts).
There are many different “senior recipe” dog foods available, many of which feature different ingredients. So, the answer to whether or not there are specific foods to avoid, like most things in life; it depends. Your dog’s medical history, specific age, breed, and current health issues all play a role in determining which type of food would be optimal in its diet.
For example, choosing a pet food product like Blue Freedom Senior dog food chicken recipe can be an excellent choice for many senior dogs. But what about those who are allergic to chicken/chicken byproducts? Placing an emphasis on your dog’s diet is very important as it gets older. You should aim to feed your pet the highest quality food you can afford (and in this case, high quality pertains to the quality of ingredients).
Additional Tips for Senior Dog Care
Focusing on your senior dog’s diet is obviously essential for prolonging their life, but what about other aspects of their health? Use the following tips to provide your aging canine with the very best care possible (doing so could mean the difference between your dog staying healthy, or contracting one of the many very common age-related illnesses typical in senior canines).
- Focus on giving your dog an adequate level of physical activity
- Watch for any noticeable changes in behavior (which might indicate a health issue)
- Schedule regular visits to the vet’s office for routine check-ups
- Don’t forget about your pup’s dental health (i.e. brush their teeth)
- Make any necessary changes to their diet (and observe how the changes affect them)
Managing an elderly dog’s health can be stressful (for both the dog and its owner). However, it’s important to employ some patience with your dog as it ages because it might not be able to do things as easily as it once did. Making sure that your dog is comfortable, eating a nutritious diet (formed specifically for aging dogs), and receiving the proper level of physical activity can greatly increase its life expectancy (and make it a happier animal).