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Choosing the right food for your senior dog

What is the best food for my senior dog?

Older pets can sometimes experience pain in their joints, which may make your dog feel reluctant to exercise. This could lead to weight gain and the extra load could put further pressure on his joints. In order to keep your dog active, it is important that some ingredients might be more beneficial for him/her.

Canine Choice Senior Light Dog Food
  • The right balance of protein and energy for an older dog – senior dogs need just enough – but not too much – high quality meat to keep them healthy and trim, so each kibble contains 45% lamb as recommended by vets
  • Natural, health-boosting botanicals – to help safeguard your dog against illnesses and take care of digestion, skin & coat, and joint & bone health, including: Cranberry - Rosehip - Sweet potato - Apple - Camomile - Omega 3+6 - Prebiotics & Probiotics - Parsley - Chicory root - Peas - Rosemary - Yucca Schidigera - Sea Algae
  • Weight control – added the health supplement L-carnitine which helps your dog’s body control its ratio of fat to muscle (very clever!)

  • Kitchen Adult 8+ Scottish Salmon & Trout Gluten Free Food for Dogs

    green-lipped mussel and salmon oil are one of these ingredients that can improve your dog's health. This provides a great source of Omega-3 and -6 fatty acids which are essential for keeping joints supple, allowing him to enjoy ‘walkies’ again. Additionally, the fresh fish and natural meat proteins ensure he’ll feel satisfied without overeating and help him to maintain a healthy weight as he matures.

    Purina Proplan Veterinary Diets Canine Gastrointestinal

    Intestinal disorders are often associated with poor digestion which are common symptoms for senior dogs and can cause symptoms to worsen. Purina have developed a highly digestible complete veterinary diet, made with selected ingredients that help reduce the digestion workload and minimise a number of nutrients that are not absorbed and remain in the gut.

    An important feature of EN Gastrointestinalis that it's low fat, helping dogs with pancreatic conditions. It contains a type of fat that is easier to digest and absorb. It also contains omega-3 fatty acids and soluble fiber (prebiotics) to help promote a healthy intestinal environment.

    Hill's Prescription Diet urinary care

    Hill's Prescription Diet Canine c/d is designed to break up existing formations of bladder stones, while also minimising the risk of your dog developing them in the future. Minerals are the main culprits when it comes to bladder stone formation. The food can, therefore, help relieve your dog’s existing problems, and protect against any further stone formation.

    At what age should I switch my adult dog to senior food (and is this really necessary)?

    The answer to this question will depend very much on the breed and health of the dog. Smaller dogs tend to mature faster and, after reaching maturity, begin to age more slowly. A little dog such as a toy poodle, terrier or Chihuahua isn’t considered senior until much later than a larger breed, (maybe 10 or 12 years old), and the giant breeds are considered “senior citizens” at 5 or 6. Most vets, though, consider a dog of 7 or 8 years and older to be a senior.

    As dog's age, their health and stamina slowly decline. Their bodies lose the ability to repair themselves and maintain normal body functions, and they struggle to adapt to the stresses and changes in their environment. In addition, around age 7 for most dogs, and age 5 for giant breed dogs, metabolism slows down and the dog requires fewer calories (although some require more if they have digestion problems).

    While senior foods may help dogs to live happier and healthy lives, they are not necessarily the right choice for an older dog with health problems. If your older dog has specific health problems (such as failing kidneys, diabetes or poor nutrient absorption in his gut) it will benefit from a diet that caters specifically to that problem, and your vet will be able to advise you in these cases.

    Routine veterinary exams and blood testing can help determine what diet is best for your older dog, and since each pet food manufacturer has a slightly different understanding of "senior", the age at which you change to senior food will depend largely on the brand you choose.

    What are the characteristics of a good senior diet for dogs?

    The older dog will need a good, well-balanced diet that is lower in calories, higher and fiber, and has adequate protein and fat. For some older dogs, you can continue to feed their regular food, but in a smaller quantity. Specially formulated senior diets are lower in calories and help to create a feeling of fullness. If your dog has significantly decreased kidney function, then a diet that is lower in protein will lower the workload for the kidneys. Lower fat usually translates to lower calories; so many senior diets have a fat level of around 8 to 12%. Older dogs are more prone to develop constipation, so senior diets are higher in fiber at around 3 to 5%. If your senior dog will eat dry food, it will help to control tartar build-up and reduce gum disease.

    Can I still feed my senior dog with adult food?

    In general, if your senior dog has no medical problems, is not overweight, and is active, your dog may remain on the adult diet it is used to. If you have questions regarding which food to feed your senior dog, contact your vet.

    Should I give my senior dog supplements?

    Aging dogs have special nutritional needs and so some will benefit from supplements. For instance, a large percentage of older dogs suffer from arthritis, and can benefit from vitamins and supplements, like MSM,chondroitin sulphate and glucosamine for their joints, if combined with weight control and the proper exercise plan.

    A vitamin or mineral supplement is recommended if your older dog is not receiving adequate amounts through his food, which can occur if your dog is not eating a complete balanced diet. A supplement may also benefit some older animals that tend to absorb fewer vitamins, minerals, and electrolytes through the intestinal tract, and lose more of them through the kidneys and urinary tract. Finally, some older animals eat less (due to conditions such as oral disease) and may not receive their daily needs of vitamins and minerals.

    A fiber product such as wheat bran may also be given to help reduce the incidence of constipation if it occurs. Talk with your veterinarian to determine which supplements may be beneficial for your dog.

    What should I do if my senior dog won’t eat?

    Most importantly, if your dog is losing weight and not eating well, he should have a complete veterinary exam to rule out any possible disease problems. If everything checks out, then you'll need to take steps to modify your dog's diet.

    Some older dogs suffer from a lack of weight gain and disinterest in food. If a dog normally eats dry food, he may have decreased consumption because he has a hard time chewing the large kibble. By feeding a kibble with smaller pieces, moistening the food with water or adding a nutrient dense canned food you can make the food easier to chew.  Adding other foods can increase the appeal; try adding a little water from canned tuna or a small amount of cooked chicken.Homemade diets of boiled rice, potatoes, vegetables and chicken with correct vitamin and mineral supplements work well with others. Ask your veterinarian for a homemade diet recipe would be best for your dog. Do not try to formulate one yourself, as the vitamin and mineral levels are critical. Some dogs love to eat cat food, but this should be avoided, since it is too high in protein.