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Senior Dog Food - Diet Requirements for your Senior Dog
As your dog grows older, her nutritional requirements change.
Starting at around 7 years of age, most dogs should be fed a formula that’s lower in protein, salt, fat and minerals, says Mark Morris, DVM, and diplomat of the American College of Veterinary Nutrition.
“The biggest thing is to reduce the protein content because kidney disease is one of the common conditions in older dogs,” he said.
Morris is quick to point out that less protein won’t prevent kidney disease. Instead, he says, the reduction alleviates clinical signs and slows its progression.
As puppies, extra minerals are needed to build body tissue. In older dogs, new tissue is only produced for replacement, not growth, so fewer minerals are needed.
A reduction in sodium is also a good idea, says Morris.
“It’s the same basic principal as occurs in human nutrition,” he says. “You’re just better off not eating a lot of salt because salt tends to make heart disease worse.”
Also look for a formula with less fat and calories.
As some pets grow older, they pack on a few too many pounds. Obese dogs have an increased risk of kidney and heart disease and may even die earlier.
“As with any dog that is mature, we need to watch caloric intake,” said George Fahey, a professor of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois. “We need to feed according to directions on the bag and not according to begging of the animal.
” Avoid free feeding – where your dog is allowed to eat as much as she wants throughout the day – because animals don’t restrict their food intake to maintain normal body weight, says Morris.
Instead, follow the label’s feeding directions, and use a measuring cup to give correct portions, either once or twice a day.
Then, if your dog is losing or gaining weight, adjust the amount accordingly.
If your dog is overweight and you want to restrict calories there are many dog foods available for the senior dog that contain less calories and offer higher amounts of fiber.
“The fiber is added to the diet to replace the digestible calories,” says Morris. “It gives them a full feeling so they’re not pestering you all the time for treats, which are a lot of calories.”
~ Staff, SeniorDogs.com
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