Your dog's body will have different needs depending on what stage of life they are in. This means that as a senior dog their dietary needs will be different than when they were a puppy. Today our Little Elm vets talk about what the best food to feed your senior dog is and share food recommendations.
When will my dog be considered a senior?
The age at which a dog is considered elderly or geriatric can vary depending on breed and size. Generally, small dogs have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, while larger dogs usually live between 12-15 years.
Generally, if you have a large breed dog then they will age much quicker than small dogs and 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.
Will my senior dog have specific dietary needs?
Yes, just as puppies have dietary requirements in order to help them grow, your senior dog will have specific needs in order to help keep them healthy and strong.
You should keep in mind that your senior dog's metabolism will have slowed down so you will need to be mindful of portion sizes to avoid your dog becoming overweight. 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.
Should I look into a special diet if my dog has a health condition?
If your dog is experiencing some form of health condition then your vet may recommend that they try a special diet to help relieve symptoms. There are foods tailored to helping a range of issues, from kidney and liver health to urinary tract and digestive 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.
My senior dog isn't eating, should I be concerned?
Occasionally senior dogs may not have much of an appetite, this is common and not something to worry about if it is only happening occasionally. 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.
The Best Food For Senior Dogs
Below are a few of the dog foods and supplements the vets at Healthy Paws Veterinary Center recommend for senior dogs:
Food For Small Senior 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.
Food For Large Senior 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.
Food For Senior 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
SmartCanine™ Joint Senior Soft Chews
SmartCanine™ Joint Senior Soft Chews are designed to support healthy joints and a normal inflammatory response 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.