Every dog is different and has different nutrition needs. It’s important to know exactly what type of food will be the most beneficial for your furry friend. Is it a puppy or an older dog? Does he have any allergies? If you’re not sure what to choose or are sceptical if you chose right, you can look for help online. Several websites provide you with materials that you can read, like UltimateHome where you can find, for example, a balanced review for Rachael Ray’s Dog Food.
In this article, the focus will be put on senior dogs and how their diet should look like to meet all of their nutritional needs. So, without further ado – let’s get to it.
How old is a “senior” dog?
All dogs experience ageing at one point, however, just like with humans they age at a different pace. There is no officially established age after which your dog becomes a senior.
In most cases, the dog can be considered older when he is anywhere between 5 and 10 years old. However, everything depends on things like their body weight, state of their organs and breed. For bigger dogs, the average age at which they become a senior is 4-5 years, while for smaller dogs it’s around 8-10 years.
Some things might indicate that your dog is getting older. These are just a few of them:
- weight gain or loss
- stiffness and pain in joints
- issues with teeth and infected gums
- changes in behaviour
A proper diet might not be able to stop the issues associated with ageing completely, but it will help in managing them. It might also, surprisingly, make your dog live longer. A study was conducted in which two labrador retrievers were fed in two different ways – one with a diet fitting his needs, and the other without a specific diet (free choice). As a result, the first one lived two years longer. Now you can see the importance of an appropriate diet.
So what to feed them?
Unfortunately, there has not been enough studies to establish the general characteristics of how a senior dog diet should be like – mainly because every dog is different. Some doctors have analyzed samples of more than 40 different dog foods that were classified as “for seniors”. They found out that all of them had some things in common, like fewer calories, increased fiber or less protein.
However, this type of food is not beneficial for most dogs – it’s a common misconception. For example, if your dog is losing weight, feeding him food with fewer calories might not be a good idea as it can actually worsen his health. The two most important things that you need to consider while choosing the perfect diet are your dog’s nutritional needs and individual condition. Also, a good idea would be to visit the vet to do so.
Dogs who are in their golden years tend to either lose or gain weight. Here are some of the things you should follow if you want to create a diet for your dog by yourself.
If your dog is losing weight:
- make his food more appealing
- try CBD oil
- if he eats kibble – it should have more than 450 calories/cup
- try giving him smaller portions, but more often
- balance the fiber
- make him exercise more often
If your dog is gaining weight:
- avoid high fiber diet/products
- try making his food yourself
- If he eats kibble – should have less than 300 calories/cup
- measure the food you give him
- feed him smaller portions
- give him, smaller treats, but more frequently
- try using fruits and veggies instead of already made treats from the shop
In both cases, it’s also important to weigh your pet regularly, to make sure that he is losing/gaining weight in a healthy way.
How to change their food?
Just like when you are changing puppy food to regular food, it has to be done slowly. You cannot just start a new diet for your dog overnight – it might have a negative effect on his health, especially his stomach. The problem with switching to a senior dog diet is that it is impossible to know when exactly you should do that, as every dog ages differently.
Furthermore, if your dog is in good health, he might not even need senior dog food! Your best choice will be to contact the vet, who will establish the exact nutrition that your furry friend will need to stay healthy.
Just like humans, dogs and their needs change with age. It is most visible when it comes to health since they are more vulnerable to diseases like diarrhoea or problems with kidneys. Senior dogs have different nutritional needs than puppies or adult dogs.
It is essential to visit the vet when you start seeing the signs of ageing in your pet – since he is a professional, after a visit you will know exactly how and what to feed your dog to keep him healthy, even in his golden years.