As our dogs age, they become slower, and this is not unusual, but their nutrition needs have to change also. Having said that, feeding our dogs the same food since they were adults has become a habit, but now that they are in their senior years, we should start to look at the proper nutrition for older dogs. Therefore, in this article today we will be looking at what changes you should be looking at, so that your older dog is still getting the proper nutrition he needs in his golden years.
When it comes to older dogs, the lack of awareness has created many older dogs being overweight, obese, and getting more illnesses than they really should be getting. Moreover, older dogs are already at a higher risk from getting diseases like diabetes, liver and heart problems, arthritis, and even different forms of cancers. Older dogs immune systems are not as good as they used to be either, making them more prone to any of the above diseases or conditions, but there are special variations in diets for dogs with any of these problems.
For instance, an older dog that has developed kidney disease will probably be fed proteins that are easily digested, or an older dog with heart disease will be fed food that has a much lower sodium or salt content. Alternatively, dogs that have developed cancers will do considerably better on a food that has added antioxidants, and omega 3 fatty acids, and dogs that have developed brain issues may respond well to more antioxidants in their diet too. Keep in mind, that omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants will help keep the immune system in shape as well as the ability to heal by boosting the immunity levels.
Even if our older dog doesn’t have any of the above conditions, it is wise to change the diet from an adult healthy dog to one that suits a senior dog, as your dog reaches his senior years. Always consult your vet first before any diet changes, but check out other types of food next time you purchase your regular dog food, as there are many different types of dog food that cater for dogs of all ages and even breed specific. Moreover, many older dogs will benefit from a diet that is lower in calories, yet still has enough protein and fat and a higher fiber content.
Other problems that can arise with an older dog is the lack of appetite, and although many older dogs can become obese, there are also a number that become extremely thin due to lack of appetite. If this is the case, you should get him checked out with your vet to rule out any medical conditions, and if everything seems to be okay, then your next step is to try to get him to eat. Having said that, if he is used to eating dry food, you could try him on wet foodn or a dry food that is considerably easier to chew, as he may have trouble chewing due to old age.
That being said, many dog owners that have owned older dogs, or who have a senior dog now will often move to homemade meals, like chicken, rice and vegetables, as this change can at times bring their appetite back. One should always consult their vet first, even before trying homemade meals to ensure that they are getting the correct amount of minerals and vitamins. For instance, for many older dogs they may have to ensure they take some extra supplements, like glucosamine and chondroitin, which may help to support their joints. In addition, perhaps an added vitamin and mineral supplement, which can help prevent any deficiencies may be necessary too.
Finally, if you have an older dog that has any of the above problems, always get him checked with your vet to rule out any serious health problems. Switching to a food that is specifically designed for older, or senior dogs can often keep him in good health for many more years to come. Moreover, always check the ingredients before purchasing a new dog food, and remember cheap isn’t always the worse, and the most expensive isn’t always the best, and a good dog food will always have real meat as one of the first ingredients, not meat by-products.