Nutrition for older dogs is a very important topic to know for those who own a dog, this is because as your dog gets older his nutrition needs change. Many owners who know little to nothing about an older dogs metabolism can unknowingly be giving their best friend the wrong foods, leading to an overweight dog, which in turn, can lead to unwanted health conditions. However, in this article we will discuss the changes in an older dog, and the necessary changes we need to make to their diet, and exercise routine, so that you can still give your dog the best as he ages.
As a dog gets older, his nutrition requirements can change quite a lot, depending on the breed, and the way the body uses energy as well as the food intake needed to produce energy changes also. This is called the metabolism process, and as a dog gets older the metabolism slows, so their fat and calorie intake doesn’t need to be as much as when they were a pup or in their prime. However, your older dog still needs protein, and fat but not as much, and their diet should consist of more fiber and grain as they get older. That being said, their exercise needs change too.
Some older dogs can stay on the same food they have always had, but less of it, while others may need a completely different type of food. An older dog needs a well balanced diet with an adequate amount of protein and calories, but more fiber to give them the feeling of being full. Lower amounts of fat means lower amounts of calories, and older dogs are better off with a higher fiber diet due to them being more prone to things like constipation, and if you want to stick with your regular food, you can add wheat bran to this, which will add to the amount of fiber.
As your dog gets older it is highly recommended that you visit your vet regularly for checkups on his health, and to get a professional opinion of what your dogs diet should include. Some older dogs have the opposite problem of being obese, and that is being underweight due to them not wanting to eat. This can be due to many different reasons, and this will be the time to take the food challenge, by experimenting with what he will eat, because some older dogs are disinterested in their food for a variety of reasons.
One reason an older dog may not be eating like his old self could be that he has trouble chewing the hard kibble, this could be because his teeth or gums aren’t what they used to be. Having said that, you can try to add water to the dry food to soften it a little, or it may just be the kibble is too large now, so a smaller kibble may work better. Moreover, older dogs that seem to be off their food can often do well on a completely different type of food, like chicken and rice with some vegetables and potato, which is why many dog owners with older dogs will switch to homemade recipes, as their dog ages.
Some older dogs may even need supplements to help them get the nutrients they need, but each dog is different and again, it is recommended to speak with your vet to discuss your individual dog’s needs. Older dogs can be prone to joint problems, so a supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitinnutrition can help support joints. If your older dog cannot eat a complete balanced diet then a vitamin, and mineral supplement may be needed to help with any deficiencies.
Finally, older dogs undergo many physiological changes, and one should keep up with those changes, and change their diet and exercise accordingly. Nutrition for older dogs is important, and so is exercise, although exercise may not be what it used to be, and one may have to make some other changes around the home if he is having joint problems or medical conditions. Making sure your older dog has a well balanced diet, with the right amount of exercise, will prevent him from becoming overweight, and protect him from unwanted health conditions that go along with being obese.