If you are a pet parent, you know there is one stage of life we dread the most- it is their senior years! It’s when all our efforts start to show. If they had a wrong diet/lifestyle as an adult dog, they would enter seniorhood with a lot more health problems and vice versa. Here is a senior dog diet to give them a comfortable set of final years.
How do you tell if your dog has become old? Dogs do not age overnight and different dogs age differently. On average, small dogs mature slowly, and large dogs slow down at 6-8 years. You’ll know when your dog has entered his/her senior years.
They are likely to do the following as they become senior dogs:
- Not be as enthusiastic as they used to
- Spend most of their time lazing around
- Show less interest in food
- Whine for the food they never asked for before (yes, senior dogs get cravings just like us)
- Have trouble climbing up and coming down the stairs
- Might have a slight limp in their hind legs – this is called hip dysplasia and is more common in large/giant dogs
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss
- Have trouble following orders or seeing things
It is a common misconception that senior dogs gain weight as they grow older; the truth is – all dogs do not gain weight; some may even lose weight. Their body slowly becomes incapable of digesting complex proteins and carbs like they used to.
Should I Switch To A Senior Dog Formula?
As your dog grows older, they require more proteins in their diet. But instead of feeding them protein that is high in cholesterol and harder to digest, go for leaner protein like fish or bird. White meat is uncomplicated and therefore better for their overall health.
Most companies that manufacture high-quality senior dog food formulas are aware of their nutritional needs and thus ensure that it is higher in vitamins, minerals and contain easy to digest protein sources. If you think you should make the switch, make sure that it is a gradual switch. A sudden change from adult dog food to senior dog food can not only lead to an upset stomach but also lead to true anorexia as well.
If you have many dogs living in different stages of life, it is quite understandable that you would want to stick to one formula. In this case, you should stick to a recipe specially made for all life stages.
Snacking Options For Senior Dogs
A similar rule applies to snacks as well. Go for low calorie, high fibre snacking options. Senior dogs are prone to constipation, so keep that in mind when you give them a snack.
Apples are wonderful snacks for older dogs, followed by baked (unsalted, unseasoned), broccoli. Carrots also make for a good snack. Wash thoroughly before giving them raw carrots.
For protein-based snacks, go for boiled chicken or turkey, this usually motivates them to learn new tricks. You can teach an old dog new tricks! You just need to find the right motivation.
Some things like cheese and other dairy products might not agree with their stomach as well as it used to when they were younger. As their digestive power decreases, dairy products can cause flatulence. Try to reserve dairy products for special days and keep them on a bare minimum.
A Senior Dog Diet – Requirements
As your dog grows older, they may have health conditions that would dictate the nature of their diet. Many senior dogs have kidney and liver problems.
If you see a sudden shift in their weight, you should visit your vet and get them tested. Weight changes can occur for various reasons. Diabetes, kidney problems, cancer are a few causes. A visit to the vet’s place will clarify a lot of it.
For instance, if your dog was diagnosed with kidney problems, you should consider shifting their diet and provide them with a higher portion of digestible proteins. You can also incorporate plant-based proteins like well-cooked lentils and soya-protein.
Curd (Dahi) is also an excellent source of a light, easy to digest, plant-based protein for dogs. It is especially beneficial for dogs in hot tropical regions. Balance is critical, so try to balance their diet with both meat and plant-based proteins.
Sometimes, their reason for not eating can be as simple as a toothache. Dental issues are common among senior dogs, especially if they had a good portion of table scraps throughout their lives.
Proper dental hygiene is a must throughout their life. If your dog has something as simple as a cavity, his/her dentist can fix it within a single session. However, if your dog requires extractions and other severe procedures, it will reduce their ability to eat, which is why we suggest softer food.
Soak their dog food in water or chicken broth for five minutes before giving it to them. This will serve two purposes. Firstly, it will encourage picky eaters to have a go at their meal and secondly, it will make the food softer for those with dental issues.
We hope the above tips were helpful. Remember, all the hard work you put in their younger stages shows in their senior years. So, if you pay close attention to what they eat as puppies and adults, take out time for long walks and training, you may prolong the approach of their senior years. As they grow old, take them to the vet every once in six months to keep track of their health and keep their meals light and healthy. What are your struggles as a senior dog owner? Get in touch with us on our social media handles and tell us all about it.