Senior Dog Care

- Feeding Senior Dogs -

Senior Dog Care

- Feeding Senior Dogs -

As our dogs age, they lose the ability to naturally repair their bodies and maintain normal functions. They have a slower metabolism, and some struggle to adapt to any changes and stresses around them.

The right diet is essential in the care of an aging dog. Some dogs don’t have the activity level they used to, and require a diet with fewer calories and nutrients. Meanwhile, other dogs may develop digestion issues, which call for more calories and nutrients. Be sure to choose the right regimen to meet your dog’s specific needs, starting with food formulated for aging dogs.

What Are Senior Foods?

Senior foods are designed to help older dogs live healthier, happier lives. Most senior life-stage dog foods have higher amounts of specific vitamins and supplements, and are lower in protein, sodium, and phosphorus to support aging hearts and kidneys.

When transitioning to a senior food formula, careful consideration of the choices available, along with the health and breed of your dog, is key. Your veterinarian should be actively involved in helping guide your decision on choosing the right food.

When Should Your Dog Start a Senior Diet?

The age at which you transition to a senior diet will depend on the health and breed of your dog. Smaller breeds tend to "age" more slowly than larger breeds, and are considered senior at around 10 to 12 years old. Extra-large or "giant" breeds are considered senior at five or six years old. Most vets classify dogs as "senior" at seven years, when their metabolism starts to slow down.

Why a Senior Diet?

Because of the decrease in activity and slower metabolism, senior diets for dogs should include lower caloric intake to avoid unnecessary weight gain, but also a normal protein level to help maintain muscle mass. They should be lower in calories and fat levels, and higher in fiber to create a feeling of fullness. Additionally, formulas with antioxidants help fight signs of aging, and help to promote a healthy immune system.

While your aging dog may be going through many different physiological changes, providing a senior diet suited for his or her needs, getting regular veterinary checkups, and appropriate daily exercising can make these golden years healthy and happy for your dog. And you’ll be able to enjoy them more, too.

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  • Published:
  • Updated: 8/31/2018: 12:58:30 PM ET
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