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What is a Senior Dogs Nutritional Needs?

Yellow labrador retriever laying on a kitchen floor next to a food bowl

Dogs get older, it is a sad fact and hard to accept after your pet has been so good to you and your family. As your pet ages, their need for certain food items will change. Fat and calories are not needed as much due to the limited activity your senior dog does.

This change means that you need to change your dog’s dietary menu. To keep your senior dog healthy and vibrant you need to continue reading our article. It provides the information you need to make sure your senior dog gets the right nutrition.

Take a few minutes to get up to speed on what you need to do when your dog hits his or her senior years.

When is a Senior Dog a Senior Dog

There is no hard and fast line drawn in the sand that says when a dog crosses this line, he or she is senior. Their classification as senior depends a lot on their breed and their size. Because large dog breeds age faster than smaller ones, their senior line is lower.

For example, some large dog breeds live to about 12 to 15 years of age. That means their entry into the senior citizen category takes place at about the age of 6 years old. Smaller dog breeds live to about 15 to 20 years, and they are considered senior when they reach the ages of 8 or 9.

What that means is that you need to start planning their senior menu a lot sooner than you expected.

The Importance of Balancing Your Dog’s Diet

Green ceramic dog food bowl full of dog food on hardwood floors

As dogs get older, they are more vulnerable to aging diseases. Those ailments can be cancer, heart trouble or even kidney disease. also, their immune system may not work as well as they age. Others have a genetic issue that marks them for specific diseases.

To help your dog fight these diseases or other ones, their diet needs to change once they reach senior status. While this change may not completely help resolve their health issues, these changes can help slow the progression or limit the severity of the disease.

Diets that include digestible sources of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates are ideal as they get absorbed faster and put less strain on your pet’s digestive system. Also, their bodies can process the nutrients more efficiently and balance their energy reserves.

Special Diets for Special Needs

Dog food display in a commercial store

Not all senior dog diets will be the same. Different dogs will have different diseases they are fighting and will need a different emphasis on certain nutrients in their diet plan. For example, a dog with cancer would need more Omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants.

A dog that has heart disease will need a food source that is low in sodium and dogs with kidney ailments would need a higher dose of proteins. Other dogs may only need extra antioxidants in their meals to help them fight off brain problems.

if your dog is diabetic, then you will want to change their diet to low-fat, high-fiber content dog food. The latter option is good for those dogs with constipation issues. Don’t forget to get the high-protein senior dog food as that will help your pet retain muscle mass and body weight.

The best thing to do when your dog starts to age is to talk to your vet about your dog’s dietary plan. They can recommend certain dosages of those nutrients to help your dog prepare for his or her later years.

There is a Lot of Dog Food Choice

Large bags of dog food in a wholesale store

One thing about this world is that there are companies that really care about your pet. One reason for that is that they are dog owners themselves. So, their companies make a variety of dog foods for different dog stages.

The one drawback is that those owners with multiple dogs tend to buy just one brand and type. This is not good if their dogs are at different life stages. There is dog food for puppies, young and middle-aged dogs, and even senior dogs.

When your dog reaches its golden years, it should be fed the right food for his or her age. A senior dog food is best, although a multi-stage dog food will be helpful to those dog owners with more than one dog.

Then when it is snack time, you should feed your senior dog a low-fat, low-sodium treat. You could use vegetables your dog likes as a good snack food. Also, when your pet suffers from arthritis giving him or her a supplement is okay. Just make sure it is a canine formula NOT a human one.

Some Final Words

Senior woman hugging a senior beagle

When your dog gets older, it may refuse to eat due to different circumstances. have your vet rule out any illnesses that may cause this trait, then feed your dog softer food or moist food to make mealtime more appealing.

Or make a nice home-cooked meal of chicken, lamb, and rice. The smell alone may entice your dog to chow down. There are also flavor enhancers on sale right now that may convince your dog that it is okay to eat.

But before you do all of this. talk with your vet and get some good words of advice. That way you know you are giving your senior dog the best care.

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