Older Dog Food -
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Older Dog Food - FAQs about the Feeding Needs of Older Dogs
Older dogs have special nutritional requirements because of the common process of aging in their bodies; some things are lost and others are gained, thus, just as with elderly people, they must be fed a well-balanced diet specifically designed for their needs.
There are several questions that are frequently asked about the feeding needs of older dogs, and we answer them for you here:
What are the attributes of a good diet for older dogs?
Your senior dog will require a well-balanced diet that is low in calories and fat, but high in fiber. Your old pal's diet must contain high quality protein too, which is essential for its wellbeing.
There's the possibility that you could continue feeding your dog its regular food, but in a smaller amount, or you may have to change it for special older dog food.
Branded older dog food contains about 18% protein, while the kind for dogs suffering from renal failure contains about 14% protein. If your dog has a serious condition of decreased kidney function, it needs a diet lower in protein to ease the job of the kidneys.
Lower fat commonly means lower calories, thus, a lot of the older dog food has a fat level of about 10 to 12%. It is common for senior dogs to develop constipation; this is why older dog food is 3 to 5% higher in fiber. You could add wheat bran to regular dog food to increase your pet's fiber ingestion.
Also, if you feed your dog dry food, this will help control tartar build-up and will diminish gum disease.
When should I change my adult dog to older dog food? Is this necessary?
A dog is considered a senior when it reaches the last third of its life. For example, a large breed dog, like the Great Dane, lives around 9 years, thus, it is considered old at age 6. The life expectancy of a Poodle is 15 years, thus, it is considered a senior when it turns 10.
Obviously, there are exceptions, and if your dog remains active and in good shape, it may be able to live a longer quality life and you may be able to continue feeding it adult dog food.
The important thing is that you take your dog to the veterinarian regularly to get routine examinations and blood tests that will help establish what the best diet for your senior dog is.
Right now she is in the midst of a clinical trial evaluating around 30 dogs to see if SAMe helps with their arthritis. Part of the trial consists of having the owners bring the dog in every three weeks to be walked across a special weight sensing mat that measures how much pressure is placed on each foot, where exactly the weight is placed, and for how long.
Can I give my older dog adult food?
If your senior friend has no medical conditions, is not obese, and is active, you can feed it the normal adult dog food. Older dog food has fewer calories, more fiber, less calcium, and less phosphorus than adult formulas. If you have doubts as to what type of food to give your best friend, talk to your vet.
Should I give supplements to my older dog?
Supplements are good for some senior dogs because they have special nutritional necessities that can be met through dietary supplements.
Your vet has to help you create a nutritional plan to boost the health of your dogs joints, and it may include a supplement rich in glucosamine and chondroitin. This would work great if combined with a weight control and the right exercise plans.
Your dog will benefit a lot from a vitamin/mineral supplement if it is not receiving enough in the food. This can happen if your dog is not eating an older dog food formula.
Supplements are also good for some older dogs that have a tendency to absorb fewer vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes through their intestinal tract, and that lose more of these through the kidneys and urinary tracts.
Lastly, if your friend doesn't eat too much because of oral disease or other similar condition, it may not be receiving the necessary daily doses of minerals and vitamins, and a supplement can help.
You can also give your dog fiber like wheat bran to reduce the frequency of constipation in case it develops. It has been suggested that antioxidants like Vitamin A, E, and C help protect against normal aging processes, but again, only your vet can tell you what will benefit your dog the most.
What should I do if my older dog doesn't want to eat?
Take your dog to the vet for a full vet exam if it is getting thin and is not eating well, because the veterinarian must discard any possible diseases.
If everything is ok, you must do something to change your dogs diet. In order to motivate your older dog to eat more you can try the following:
- If it regularly eats dry older dog food, maybe it is hard for your dog to chew the large pieces. Try a smaller piece formula or put some water on it to soften it up.
- Get some canned or moistened dry older dog food and heat it a bit to enhance its smell. Mix it up before giving it to your dog to make sure it doesn't burn your friends mouth.
- Add other foods to the dry older dog food formula to make it more interesting. Put some water from canned tuna or canned dog food, some cooked chicken and broth, or cooked eggs. Ask your vet if you can give your senior dog a bit of bacon drippings, hamburger grease, clam juice, chicken drippings, or baby food as part of its diet. This is not a normal practice, thus, your vet must approve.
- Switch to canned dog food if you are at present feeding it dry older dog food.
- Give your dog smaller amounts of food but more often; if you do this, your pal may start eating more daily.
- If your dog doesn't like branded older dog food, ask your vet if you can get a homemade version created by a veterinary nutritionist.
- Some dogs love cat food, however, this is not good because it has too much protein and fat.
If you are looking for help in the feeding of your older dog, visit SeniorDogs.com, the most complete online source of information about senior dogs.
We are a website devoted to give you all the relevant information you need to properly take care of an older dog. Here, you will find articles, resources, and important information about many relevant topics, like older dog food, older dog arthritis, older dog supplements, older dog allergies, older dog medications, older dog rescue groups, and pet insurance.
We invite you to check out our forums, and to start sharing with other older dog owners, and to visit our blog, because it is full of amazing stories, news, and information that will not only touch your heart but will also inspire you through the power of humanity, love, and courage.