Obesity In Older Dogs: Things To Know

Things To Know Regarding Obesity In Older Dogs

Obesity in older dogs is an increasing problem for many dog owners, and although sometimes it is caused by a health condition, many times it is something simple, like diet. In fact, in a recent study it showed that over 50% of dogs are overweight to some degree, some worse than others. In this article we will look at the things that can make an older dog obese, and what we can do about getting their weight to a normal level, in turn helping them live longer, happier and healthier.

With an older dog weight gain is a double problem, because an older dog has slowed down, needs less exercise, and his whole metabolism has slowed somewhat. Moreover, being overweight can increase his chances of developing health issues due to carrying around more weight than he needs to. Just like an older human, breathing can become labored, he can develop respiratory conditions, joint problems and more, so let us look at what diet changes should occur when a dog reaches his senior years.

All dog owners believe they are feeding their dog correctly, and many don’t even notice a slow gain in weight over time, because your dog is around every day. Many people will say “but I’ve been feeding him the same food since he was an adult”/ and don’t realize that as he gets into his senior years his calorie intake, as well as fiber and protein intake needs to change. Having said that, once he is in his senior years it’s not going to solve anything by just going shopping for a dog food labeled ‘senior dog food”, because you have to take into account his nutrition needs for his age, activity level and health.

Another thing to take into consideration is that all breeds are different.
Moreover, some breeds reach their senior years quicker than others, for instance, a large breed may be in their senior years at age 7, whereas a smaller breed may not reach that stage until 10 or even 12 years of age. An older dog that has gained a lot of weight may need a diet with less protein, but again this depends on the food he has been getting in the past. If, the protein is in the ingredients by way of poor quality protein like bone meal, or meat meal he is not getting the right amount. A real source of protein that is going to be beneficial to him would be real meat in the ingredients like chicken or beef.

Keep in mind, that poor quality protein is difficult for an older dog to digest, and provides little nutrients, and can even put a strain on their major organs. Another point to mention, is that if an older dog is overweight they may also benefit from a lower fat diet, and some even benefit from added supplements. Changing diet can help return your older dog to its normal weight over time. However, you also need to incorporate some exercise, because many owners stop taking them for walks, and just because you let him out in the yard for an hour, doesn’t mean he is actually exercising, he may just be laying down basking in the sun.

Diet change can be difficult for the owner, because there are no guidelines as to what goes into ‘senior dog food’ and it’s left up to the manufacturer to put whatever they feel is good into their product. Look for a dog food that contains whole grains, and vegetables, because these have good carbs with a low glycemic index. In addition, as mentioned earlier you should look for a food that contains real meat, like beef, or chicken as real meat is easily digested, and absorbed by the body. Furthermore, look for a food that contains minerals, and vitamins that include zinc, copper, vitamins A,D,E,K, folate, and biotin as these are the beneficial ones.

Finally, if your older dog is overweight or obese, take him to your vet to get a thorough checkup to make sure it is not a health condition that is causing his obesity. If it is just diet related, it makes sense to give him a food that will be beneficial to him, as in the long run he will live longer, and you will be able to enjoy his company for longer too. Leave out the table scraps, and talk to your vet instead about how much food you should be giving him, as sometimes older dogs need less food, and by getting him to his correct weight it will help give him more energy, and you may be surprised to see him return to his old self once his diet has improved.

Learn more about common health problems in older dogs in our blog.

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