Being a responsible pet parent is really hard, all the decisions, actions and health concerns for the dog fall on you. You should take care of the dog appropriately to its age and adjust the feeding and walking activities to the dogs necessities and ability.
When does a dog reach seniority?
The senior adjective has different meanings for the different dog breeds. The smaller dog breeds tend to age more slowly and live longer. A dog from a small breed usually lives between 15 and 20 years. So a small breed dog is considered senior at an age of about eight or nine years.
The bigger dog breeds show signs of maturity at an earlier stage and have shorter lifespans. A bigger breed dog is more likely to live between 12 and 15 years. They can show signs of maturity at an early age of about six or seven years.
Still, there are some exclusions to this general rule, with some examples of dogs living exceptionally long lives.
The food should be age appropriate
The young dogs have energy and nutrients that have to support an active life and promote the healthy development of the bones and muscles. The food that is fed to these dogs should be rich in energy, healthy carbohydrates and protein and contain enough vitamins and minerals.
The adult dog has somewhat similar dietary needs. The adult dog does not grow but is usually very active during the day, and this should be complemented with appropriate food that contains fresh meats, fruits and vegetables, carbohydrates to support the active life and enough vitamins and minerals.
The senior dog, however, is not as active as an adult of a young dog, so its dietary necessities are substantially lower. Here we will go into explaining the basics of the senior dog food and tell you why you should be careful on the type of food you feed your four-legged best friend.
What is senior dog food?
There is no set definition for senior dog food, only broad guidelines. Every manufacturer follows a general rule of thumb when it comes to senior dog food, but all the individual recipes have some tweaks that are aimed at fulfilling a specific need.
Many brands produce more protein-rich foods, while others may have less protein and more added vitamins and minerals etc.
Senior dog food requirements
As noted above, the dog has different food requirements at the different stages of its life. Below we will explain the nutritive necessities of the senior dogs.
If a dog has some health issues, the food it is fed needs to be in accordance with the veterinarys recommendations. If there are some liver or kidney issues, then the food that is given mustnt contain a lot of protein. You should follow the general health condition of your dog via regular blood analysis.
The senior dog should not be fed foods that are loaded with carbohydrates that may cause an excess of energy as this can lead to obesity. Foods that contain a lot of sodium are also not recommended for senior dogs.
A senior dog needs to eat more vegetables and fruit, as these ingredients promote healthy digestion and offer important fibres, vitamins and minerals. As the dog ages, its ability to use all the eaten food diminishes, and in many cases the important elements do not get fully absorbed in the digestive organs.
That is why the food intended for senior dogs is enriched with vitamins and minerals. An added benefit of the intake of the supplements like antioxidants is the healthy and shiny coat of the dog.
Another important health risk that can develop in older dogs is arthritis. This is a disease of the joints that can be managed with food.
In such case, the food should contain glucosamine (amino-sugars) supplements to help fight off the deterioration of the joints and ligaments.
Food balanced with the daily activity
The senior dog usually has less daily activities and uses less energy than a younger dog. This usually results in the dog gaining weight and feeling less enthusiastic and playful.
As a responsible pet owner, you should balance the food intake with the daily activities. If the older dog is less active, then lower the portion to compensate for the unburned energy and stave off weight gain.
In the opposite case, if the dog looses weight as it gets older, then this most likely points to a serious medical issue that has to be checked by a vet. Many older dogs develop teeth issues that may be the cause of weight loss.
If this is the case, then switch the food to small size kibble or wet or canned food that requires less chewing and still delivers the necessary nutrients.
Overall composition of senior dog food
There is a broad industry standard that all manufacturers of pet food follow when making the senior dog food. The main ingredient is meat deboned chicken, lamb or beef.
They usually do not put chicken or turkey meal, and most manufacturers avoid using meat by-products.
There is usually well-balanced fruit and vegetable content, like apples, carrots, peas, blueberries, spices, brown rice, oatmeal, pumpkin, spinach and more. The senior dog food usually does not contain any grain or gluten products like wheat, corn or soy as these can cause allergies and indigestion in the senior dog.
These senior dog foods contain very small amount of carbohydrates and sodium, and enough protein and healthy fatty acids. And there are some added ingredients like vitamins, minerals, and supplements to help fight old-age related health issues.
To finish up
The getting old stage is inevitable in all living beings, including dogs. Even though most dog lovers have a very special connection to the furry little friend, still, this is an unchangeable fact of life.
However, the owner of the senior dog can significantly influence the comfort of the dog in its mature years by giving it an adequate senior dog food, well thought of daily activities and enough TLC.