Updated: Nov 30
We all know how essential it is to eat right to stay healthy, but the impact of nutrition on senior dogs' health is even more significant. Feeding older pets a diet high in fat significantly increases the chance of developing heart disease, much earlier than dogs of the same age who are fed low-fat diets. We strongly recommend that owners of senior pets follow these six nutrition tips to help your best friend lead a healthier life:
Feed Lower-Calorie, High-Quality Dog Food.
We are all guilty of eating too much and often eating the wrong things. The same is true for our pets, although most of us may not realize it. In the case of our dogs and cats, they will overeat in an attempt to clean their plates. Many pet owners overfeed their pets out of love or habit.
We recommend following these simple steps when shopping for food for your senior dog:
Select Healthy Treats for Dogs
We recommend treats be limited to 10 percent of a pet's daily caloric intake, so the fewer, the better! Instead, we recommend using 100% dried liver treats or Royal Canin Canine Educ Treats.
Take Your Older Dog to the Vet Regularly
Owners should have their older dogs examined by a veterinarian twice a year, to monitor their health while they age. Any health problems that are developing could be caught before they become significant issues, prevention is better than cure! It's also vital to bring your dog to the vet whenever they seem sick or after any changes in their regular behaviour patterns.
Obesity can lead to numerous health problems, namely arthritis and diabetes. Senior dogs are at greater risk of becoming obese because they usually have less energy to burn the calories they are consuming. Lowering your dog’s portion sizes to align with their activity level is a great way to control this change. Speak to your veterinarian about the simple changes you can make!
Don't Allow Your Senior Dog to Eat Cat Food or Table Scraps
Cats are obligate carnivores, they require diets high in protein which is challenging for dogs' systems to digest.
Avoid all table scraps completely, feeding these can lead to stomach upsets, food allergies, and obesity because owners often dole out too much for their pets. While we may enjoy feeding our pets leftover chicken, it's also vital that senior dogs do not eat meat that has been cured or preserved, such as bacon and ham. Dog’s can get salt toxicity from ingesting too much sodium nitrites which can make them very sick and lead to death.
Here are some additional things to consider with senior dogs:
1. Keep a close eye on your dog's weight - A dog is considered obese when they weigh more than 20% of their ideal body weight. Consult with your veterinarian about how much you should feed your dog each day and get help from a pet food advisor if necessary. If your dog is overweight, you can try switching to a lower-calorie food.
2. Introduce new foods gradually - Adding new flavours and textures too quickly may cause gastrointestinal upset in your older dog, so look for small changes that are less likely to be noticed by your pet.
3. Add natural supplements - If your senior dog is having trouble getting around, the addition of joint-support supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can help.
4. Be watchful for anemia - An anemic dog may be lethargic and may tire more easily. Anemia in dogs can be brought on by several factors, including blood loss due to wounds, the ingestion of toxins, or internal parasites.
5. Check for gum disease - Your dog's gums may be red and inflamed if they have a periodontal infection, leading to a loss of her teeth and a painful death by starvation since chewing is too painful. If you're unable to brush your dog's teeth yourself, consult your veterinarian about a safe and effective home care program to manage your dog's periodontal disease.
6. Watch out for urinary tract infections - A common sign of a urinary tract infection in dogs is frequently urinating, often in the house. In addition to frequent potty breaks, watch for an unwillingness to play or romp as well as visible pain when your dog begins to urinate.
7. Exercise is essential - Even if your senior pooch has slowed down, they still need regular exercise to keep muscles toned and joints healthy. Gentle walks are best for aging dogs, so use a leash to assist them in climbing or jumping activities.
8. Take care of your dog's teeth - If your dog's constant chewing has caused painful dental disease, you may need to consult with an oral surgeon.
9. Just like us, dogs need medical care throughout their lives - Don't neglect regular checkups or necessary vaccinations just because your dog is older. Disease and illness don't discriminate based on age, so keep them healthy and happy throughout their life.
10. Consider pet insurance - pet insurance generally costs between $9 and $15 per month and can save you money in the long run if your dog does require expensive medical care.
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