A Nutritional Guide for Senior Dogs
Old age comes for us all – even our beloved pups. Like humans, dogs’ dietary needs change as they age. In order to remain happy and healthy, senior dogs must continue to receive basic nutrients. These nutrient requirements are only met when a senior dog is given the correct diet and proper eating accommodations.
First things first, you must identify if your dog is considered senior. This depends on the breed and body weight of the dog, so it is important to do research on your pets’ specifics. However, a good approximation is when the dog reaches half of life expectancy. Little dogs tend to live 15-20 years while larger dogs live to about 12-15 years. To put that into perspective, a small dog is considered senior around age 8-9, and a large dog becomes senior at age 6.
Obesity and Protein Intake
One huge problem for senior dogs is obesity. As dogs age, their metabolism slows down and burning calories isn’t so easy (I’m sure we can all relate to that). The ideal dog food will be low-calorie and high fiber – ensuring proper gastronomical health and no overeating. While being low-calorie is important, it is still crucial that senior dogs are receiving all of the necessary nutrients.
Many assume that in order to reduce calories intake, you should decrease the amount of protein given to your dog. This is false. In fact, healthy seniors should receive 50% more protein to maintain proper muscle mass. Muscle loss is a common struggle among senior dogs, but adequate protein consumption will prevent this from happening. Most common dog foods do not have enough protein to meet this unique need, but Hi-Standard Premium Performance 30/20 Soy Free dog food offers a nutrient dense 30% protein and 20% fat diet.
Supplements & Water Intake
For many of today’s health fanatics, a proper diet isn’t enough. To fill in the nutritional gaps, one might choose to take supplements. Similarly, senior dogs can benefit from supplements too. Some common supplements for dogs are glucosamine and chondroitin which fight against arthritis and joint pain. Another important supplement that combats arthritis and cognitive loss is omega 3 fatty acids. Start with our Hi-Standard Premium Performance 23/16 dog food which is enriched with both Omega 3 & 6 Fatty Acids. You can also choose to add your own to your dog’s diet as long as you stick to the recommendations of the EPA and DHA: 700 to 1,500 mg. Begin at the lower end of the scale and decrease if your dog begins vomiting or having diarrhea.
In combination with these supplements, it is essential that senior dogs are consuming an adequate amount of water. As dogs age, their ability to maintain water balance decreases. So, make sure your pup is staying hydrated!
In addition to properly crafting a diet for your senior dog, the practical sides of feeding your dog must also be altered. Surprisingly, it might not be the food that is preventing your senior dog from staying healthy. Senior dogs face some unique challenges when trying to eat due to their age.
Pay Attention to Dental Health
Have you ever heard of a doggy dentist? Dental health in dogs is very easy to overlook. However, a sore tooth or swollen gums could be the reason your senior dog isn’t receiving proper nutrition. Dental problems can make chewing painful or challenging, so it is important to inquire about any dental procedures your dog might need. If procedures are impossible or unsuccessful, try wetting the food or switch to a canned, soft food option. We don’t want a dental roadblock standing in the way of your dog enjoying the nutrient filled food you are giving them!
Create a Comfortable Eating Environment
Older dogs tend to lose their appetite quickly and easily. To develop proper habits, it is important to create a comfortable eating environment for your senior pup. Consider encouraging your dog to eat lying down or from an elevated platform to eliminate any discomfort that can result from bending down to eat.
Trying to eat when you have no appetite is a struggle. Turns out, dogs experience this feeling too! As dogs age, they experience an increased sensitivity to certain smells and textures – which makes eating that much more challenging. To help stimulate an appetite, try heating your dog’s food up. The aroma will fill the room and leave your dog begging to have a bite.
Senior pups just need a little more love and conscious care to stay well. Use these suggestions and our nutrient rich Hi-Standard Dog Food to make sure your furry friend stays healthy for many more years to come!