You love your senior dog and want to feed them the very best food, but choosing the right food for your older dog can be tricky. That's why we recommend that you speak to your vet about the best food to meet the needs of your senior dog. In the meantime, here are a few tips from our Modesto vets on feeding older dogs.
How old is old for dogs?
The age at which a dog is considered elderly or geriatric will vary depending on the breed and size. Small dogs generally have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, while larger dogs usually live between 12-15 years.
Because bigger dogs age more quickly, they are considered to be "older" around the time they turn 6, while small dogs generally pass into middle age at around 8 years of age.
Do senior dogs really need different food?
Yes, your dog will have different nutritional needs at each stage of life, and meeting your senior dog's nutritional needs can help them to stay healthy as they continue to age. Also, many foods for senior dogs have been formulated to address age-related health conditions. Below are a couple of things that need to be considered when choosing the best food for your senior dog.
The first thing to be aware of is caloric intake. Just like with people, a dog's metabolism slows down as they age, and gaining extra weight becomes easier. This means pet owners must ensure their dog receives the correct amount of nutrients and protein to thrive without intaking too many calories.
The second consideration is trying to make sure their diet includes high-fiber options. Constipation is painful and it can lead to further gastrointestinal issues when it becomes severe enough. Maintaining gastrointestinal health is a common obstacle for older dogs, so the best dog food for senior dogs will have lots of fiber to help them stay healthy and regular.
Can foods for senior dogs help with their health conditions?
In some cases, specialized diets will be prescribed by your vet to help your senior dog with their health issues. There are foods tailored to help a range of issues, from kidney and liver health to urinary tract, digestive, and even joint conditions.
Even if your older dog doesn't have specific health issues, it is a good idea to switch them to dog food geared towards senior dogs to help preserve their wellbeing. Talk to your vet about what the best option is for your dog.
What if my older dog doesn't like the new food?
It is relatively normal for older dogs to have some loss of appetite. If your senior dog has suddenly begun to demonstrate an unexplained loss of appetite, it is best to speak with your vet and have them rule out any potentially serious causes including dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.
Once serious medical conditions have been ruled out as the cause for appetite loss, another avenue for consideration is the simplest one—perhaps your dog is tired of their regular food. You can try adding things like chicken broth, cooked chicken (unseasoned), or a small amount of canned food to your dog's dry kibble to make it more enticing.
Which dry food is the best choice for senior dogs?
Only your vet will be able to provide you with an informed answer to which food is best for your senior dog, but below are a few dog foods and supplements from reputable brands that you may want to try for your senior dog. Check with your vet to see if the foods below are available directly from their office.
For Small Dogs
Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™
Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™ Dry dog food provides precisely balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition tailored to older small & toy breed dogs.
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition SMALL Indoor Senior Dry for Dogs
Royal Canin Small Indoor Senior dry dog food (formerly called Indoor Life Senior) is tailored to support your older small dog’s quiet, indoor lifestyle. Optimal levels of EPA, DHA, and a complex of antioxidants support healthy aging.
For Large Dogs
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition LARGE 8+ Dry for Dogs
Canin Large Aging 8+ dry dog food (formerly Maxi Aging 8+) is tailored to support your big senior dog’s vitality. An exclusive complex of antioxidants supports cellular health to help reduce the signs of aging.
For Dogs with Food Intolerances
BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet™ Dog HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Dry
Formulated for dogs experiencing food sensitivities, BLUE HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance helps minimize the chance of adverse reactions to common proteins.
Supplements For Senior Dogs
In some cases, your vet may recommend that your dog's diet be supplemented with extra nutrition to support healthy joints or relieve skin issues. Below are a couple of brands you may want to look into.
SmartCanine™ Joint Senior Soft Chews
SmartCanine™ Joint Senior Soft Chews are designed to support healthy joints and normal inflammatory responses in senior dogs.
SmartCanine™ Combo Senior Soft Chews
SmartCanine™ Combo Senior Soft Chews are designed to provide support for joint, digestive, skin and coat health in senior dogs.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.