As your dog gets older you will need to begin thinking about how their nutritional needs may change to help maintain their health and weight with their changing body. Today, our Cumming vets talk about how diet can help keep your old pup healthy and what the best food is for senior dogs.
What are the nutritional needs of a senior dog?
When you are trying to decide what the best food is for your senior dog the first thing you should look at is whether or not it is suitable for any health conditions they have.
You will also need to start being conscious of their activity and caloric intake as they may begin to gain weight as they age. This means that it's a good idea to start watching their food intake more closely by the time they are middle-aged. You can help prevent obesity by limiting how much food your dog eats as well and choosing a suitable food for a low-calorie diet.
The second is trying to make sure their diet includes high-fiber options. Constipation is painful in its own right, and it can lead to further gastrointestinal issues when it becomes severe enough. Maintaining gastrointestinal health is a common obstacle for older dogs, so the best dog food for senior dogs will have lots of fiber to help them stay healthy and regular.
Will my dog's diet need to change as they get older?
Senior dogs who are suffering from diabetes, kidney failure, or liver disease are liable to require special diets that will help keep their condition under control. It is best to consult with a vet about your dog's diet if they are sick and you are concerned about the impact of their diet.
Reduced sodium dog foods and lower calories are more suitable for senior dogs that have any heart conditions.
Our Cumming vets recommend owners of diabetic or pre-diabetic dogs select dog food which slows the absorption of food. These special diabetic diets tend to raise blood sugar more slowly and reduce the chances of impactful health complications in dogs with diabetes. These diets are very low in fat and exceptionally high in fiber. We recommend talking to your vet who can provide dietary recommendations for your senior or otherwise diabetic dog.
As your pup gets older they may benefit from an increase in the quality of protein they eat. This helps senior dogs maintain healthy body weight without putting unneeded strain on their aging kidneys.
As previously mentioned, constipation is a common struggle for older dogs, the high amount of fiber present in the best dog food for older dogs helps to prevent constipation and keep their bowel movements regular.
What to do when your senior dog's appetite changes?
If you are noticing that your dog isn't eating the same amount as they used to, don't worry. This is perfectly normal. You are most likely to notice that they are eating less than before. Causes for sudden appetite loss are hugely varied both in scope and severity. Your dog could be suffering from simple nausea brought on by gastrointestinal problems, or it could be suffering from the effects of cancer.
If your senior dog has suddenly begun to demonstrate an unexplained loss of appetite, it is best to speak with your vet and have them rule out any potentially serious causes including dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.
Once serious medical conditions have been ruled out as the cause for appetite loss, another avenue for consideration is the simplest one — perhaps your dog is simply tired of its regular food.
One option if to add wet food to their dry food to make it more tasty for your pup. You could also try preparing a simple meal for your dog of cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice. These home-cooked meals are both nutritious and bland enough to sit well with them if your older dog is experiencing some nausea.
What is the best dog food for older dogs?
This depends on the exact situation of your dog. In some cases, yes, the best food for older dogs may be a medical prescription dog food. In other cases, simply switching to a healthy alternative regular food brand might do the trick. Your vet will be able to provide recommendations on which food might work best for your aging pup.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.