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Food and nutrition are essential at every stage of a dog’s life. Feeding your dog the right food will keep them healthy and energetic and give them the best protection against various illnesses and diseases.
This is especially important during their senior years, when a dog’s energy levels can begin to drop, and health issues can become more common.
But do senior dogs need their own special food? Many dog food companies offer foods that are aimed at senior dogs and claim to be of benefit to our older pooch .
Are these claims legitimate, and does your senior dog need food specifically for older dogs?
In this article, let’s take a closer look at senior dog food and its benefits.
Senior dog food isn’t always necessary if your dog is healthy. However, it can be helpful for dogs that have experienced a drop in energy levels.
Senior dog food includes more vitamins and minerals, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and less protein to account for their lower energy levels.
Senior dog food also includes fewer carbohydrates to prevent obesity. Old dogs can suffer from dental disease, so senior wet food might make eating more accessible and less painful for them.
Before making the change, consult your veterinarian to see if this is the best course of action.
“There is special food just for senior dogs? I hope it’s as delicious as food for younger dogs!”
Don’t worry, you won’t notice any difference in the taste! It’s just the nutrition that can be different.
“Good! That’s all that matters to me. Give me all of the delicious treats!”
Many dog food brands have food aimed at different stages of a dog’s life. One of the more common and popular stages focused on is the senior years.
However, there are no strict guidelines on what makes dog food suitable for seniors, so each brand will have its own ideas.
This means that the nutrients and ingredients included in senior dog food aren’t regulated in the UK or US, and there isn’t a standard. Most senior dog food brands have a few things in common, however.
Generally, senior dog food has less protein than food marketed to puppies and adult dogs. Protein is responsible for muscle recovery after vigorous exercise.
As older dogs have less energy than adults, they won’t be exercising as much, so their protein requirement is lower.
For example, dog food for adult dogs can contain between 18 to 30 per cent protein, but senior dog food is in the 18 to 23 per cent range. You’ll also see less fat in senior dog food, but more carbohydrates.
Most senior foods will have increased nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids.
These nutrients are known to help with your dog’s joints, and instead of adding supplements to your dog’s diet, your veterinarian may recommend switching to senior dog food that is already rich in them.
There are also omega-3 fatty acid supplements you can give your senior dog if your food doesn’t include them.
This supplement is a great preventative measure for health issues, so starting your dog on it at the start of seniority is a great idea.
Many senior dog foods are available on the market, and you can buy these from your local pet store or online.
“How will we possibly choose from all of the options available to us?”
There might be many choices, but not all foods suit your senior dog. Deciding whether you’ll choose wet or dry dog food is an excellent place to start.
Many vets advise kibble as it helps to keep teeth healthy naturally and is easier to digest.
However, senior dogs are more prone to suffering from dental disease.
Kibble can be too tough on their teeth, so wet dog food might be less painful for them to eat.
Or if you add a little water to the kibble a few minutes beforehand, that will soften the kibble making it easier to eat.
Senior dogs also have a slower metabolism than adult dogs, giving them a higher risk of becoming overweight.
Many nutritionally balanced wet foods offer fewer carbs than dry food, which can prevent them from gaining weight.
There are even vegan senior dog foods on the market, which replace the animal protein source for plant-based alternatives.
However, these might be more difficult for an older dog to digest and must be introduced with care.
“I like my regular dog food.”
I know, you always eat everything and beg for seconds.
“Do I have to change to senior dog food?”
Senior dog food isn’t always needed. Several factors to consider are current health status, lifestyle, and disease risk. Consult with your veterinarian if you’re not sure.
As a general guide, people usually switch to senior dog food for one of two reasons. These are:
If your dog is in good health and hasn’t experienced a drop in energy, they won’t need to change their dog food.
However, if you have seen these changes, it might be time to make the swap.
“I’m not a young pup anymore and do have some age-related issues. Can senior dog food help me?”
It can help with some conditions, especially those known to be impacted by diet.
“Which conditions are those?”
Let’s take a look!
Many different illnesses and diseases are known to affect aging dogs.
These conditions are more likely in older dogs, and some can be improved or managed by changing their diet and ensuring your dog gets the nutrients they need.
Dental disease is one condition that can be most helped by food for senior dogs.
Diseases of the mouth and teeth can make it difficult for dogs to eat regular dog food, but many senior foods are designed with this in mind.
You can also find senior dog food that aims to stop plaque buildup.
Evie Randall is a talented writer at KnowMyDog.com who specializes in creating content that provides senior dog owners with the knowledge they need to take care of their furry friends. Her passion for dogs and her exceptional writing skills have enabled her to create engaging and informative articles that cover a wide range of topics related to senior dog care, from the importance of regular veterinary checkups to tips on managing age-related health issues.
Through her writing, Evie has helped to build a community of dog owners who rely on KnowMyDog.com for guidance and support in caring for their aging pets. Her dedication to providing high-quality content that is both informative and easy to understand has earned her a loyal following among dog owners, who appreciate her expertise and her ability to make complex topics accessible. Overall, Evie’s work at KnowMyDog.com has made a significant impact in the pet industry, and her commitment to helping senior dogs and their owners is sure to continue benefiting countless pets and their human companions for years to come.