As your dog gets older, their diet starts to play a much bigger role in their overall health. Our Seattle vets address the best types of food that can help keep your senior dog happy and healthy.
At What Age Are Dogs Considered Elderly?
Since every dog is different, we are unable to offer a universal response to this question. The expected lifespan of a dog can change depending on breed and size. Larger dogs typically live from about 12 to 15 years, whereas small dogs typically live between 15 and 20 years.
Usually, smaller dogs enter middle age at around 8 years old, while larger dogs age faster and are considered "older" around the time they turn 6 years old.
Does my senior dog have specific nutritional requirements?
We recommend considering two main criteria when seeking the best dog food for senior dogs.
First, try to ensure that it has few calories. It's crucial to prevent our furry best friends from overeating in order to fight obesity because dogs' metabolisms, like people's, will slow down as they age.
Second, bring high-fiber options into their diet. For aging dogs, constipation is a fairly common issue and may lead to further gastrointestinal issues if it becomes severe enough. Plus, it can be painful.
Keeping your older dog's gastrointestinal system healthy should be high priority, so the best dog food for older dogs will contain lots of fiber to keep them regular.
What should I do if my senior dog won't eat?
Sometimes, we see older dogs that have lost at least some of their appetite. Causes for sudden loss of appetite are hugely carried both in scope and severity; your dog could be suffering from simple nausea brought on by gastrointestinal problems, or they could be suffering from the effects of cancer.
Speak with your vet if your senior dog has suddenly begun to display an unexplained loss of appetite, to have them rule out any potentially serious causes including kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or dental disease.
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 simply tired of their regular food.
Your dog's dry kibble supply might be made more alluring by adding chicken broth, some water, or a small quantity of canned food. Cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice are other simple meals you might try making for your dog. If your older dog is feeling queasy, these home-cooked meals are both wholesome and bland enough for them to go well with.
Which health issues can the best dog food for senior dogs help prevent?
Does your senior dog have a medical condition like kidney failure, diabetes, or liver disease? He or she will almost certainly require a special diet to help manage the condition. If your dog is ill and you are concerned about the effects of their diet, you should consult with your veterinarian.
Best Dog Food for Older Dogs
Our team at Aurora Veterinary Hospital has put together a list of some of the best types of dog foods for senior dogs. Ask your vet which senior dog food is best for your pet.
Prescription Dog Food
Depending on your dog's specific circumstances and health conditions, a medical prescription dog food may be the best option for your senior pooch. In other cases, your veterinarian may simply advise you to switch to a healthier alternative.
Low-Calorie Dog Food
Low-calorie senior dog food can help dogs who are at a higher risk of developing heart disease (or who have already been diagnosed with it) lose weight. Recipes with low sodium levels are preferred.
High-Fiber, Low-Fat Dog Food
The slow absorption of food is something our veterinarians in Seattle strongly advise owners of dogs with pre-diabetes or diabetes to pay close attention to. With special diabetic diets, blood sugar tends to rise more gradually, lowering the risk for health issues. These diets are also remarkably low in fat and high in fiber.
As mentioned previously since older dogs commonly struggle with constipation, the higher amount of fiber, the better. This will help to prevent constipation and keep their bowels working regularly.
Dog Food High in Protein
Compared to standard dog food, many senior dog foods also contain higher-quality protein sources, which can aid senior dogs in maintaining a healthy body weight without placing undue stress on their deteriorating kidneys.
Limited Ingredient Dog Foods
If your senior dog has allergies, your vet might recommend limited ingredient dog foods, which include just a single protein source (such as chicken, beef or lamb), often combined with one carbohydrate source.
By doing this, allergens that could be causing symptoms or allergic reactions can be removed. The Association of American Feed Control (AAFCO) seal of approval and a manufacturer's claim of being "complete and balanced" should both be looked for when searching for dog foods with a small number of ingredients.
Your vet will be able to provide dietary recommendations for your senior or diabetic dog, along with comprehensive geriatric care and exams.
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.