When you are strolling down the dog food aisle with your aging dog, you may notice the senior dog food section. At this point, you are probably wondering- “Is senior dog food necessary, or can I continue to feed him his favorite?” This is a challenging question, as you want to make sure that you’re doing what’s best for your furry friend. So what’s the verdict?
So, is senior dog food necessary? No, senior dog food is not necessary, but it should be considered- especially if your dog is suffering from obesity, being underweight, or struggling with arthritis, kidney or heart disease. At this point, you will have to change his diet to help him with his condition. If he is not struggling with any of these issues, you can get by with what you are already feeding your dog, but adding certain supplements can help.
Making the right decision for your geriatric dog is important for his health. If you are unsure as to whether or not he really needs to switch to senior dog food, we are here to help. We are going to discuss some of the major health conditions that may require a diet switch-up, and what other options there are to make your dog food healthier for your aging furry friend.
When You Should Change Your Dog’s Diet
Remember- for some dogs, senior dog food is not necessary.
If he seems to be in perfect health and his last vet checkup was good, then it’s likely okay to keep on feeding him his favorite dog food without switching to something designed for ‘elderly dogs’.
Of course, there are major health conditions that will require a change to his diet. These include:
- Being underweight
- Kidney disease
- Heart disease
If your elderly dog is suffering from one of these conditions, he may need to change his diet.
Each health condition will come with its own set of rules and regulations as far as what you feed your dog, so you will need to pay extra close attention when picking out his food.
1. Food for Obese Elderly Dogs
As your dog ages, he is going to exercise less and less. This is a perfectly normal change in his life, but that also means that he is not burning as many calories. These calories can quickly stack up and lead to your dog gaining far too much weight for his frame, otherwise known as obesity.
At this point, you will need to change his diet to a fewer calorie option. It is important to make sure that the dog food doesn’t slack on important nutrients such as protein, though. Don’t swap out healthy dog food for something that’s packed with fillers just because it’s lower in calories. This can cause major health concerns to your geriatric furry best friend.
2. Food for Underweight Dogs
Some elderly dogs may have the opposite problem, though, and have a harder time holding on to their weight as they get older. When this happens, it is important to find a high-quality food that is also high in calories. The calories should come from most protein sources and other nutrient-rich ingredients rather than fillers, as these won’t help to pack on the weight.
3. Food for the Dog Struggling with Arthritis
Arthritis can make your elderly dog’s joints hurt pretty badly, but good food that is packed with glucosamine, chondroitin and/or omega fatty acids can help him. These ingredients are well-known to be able to combat the aches and pains associated with arthritis and help the joints to function better.
However, the short shelf-life of arthritic dog food can be a turn-off for some people. If you’re not interested in the foods available to help this condition, you can always opt for a quality omega fatty acid supplement to add to his food.
4. Food for Dogs with Kidney and Heart Disease
It can be tricky knowing which dog food is best for your elderly dog when he is suffering from kidney or heart disease. There is some speculation whether or not decreasing protein is really beneficial when battling these diseases, as some worry that the dog’s muscles may start to deteriorate.
Your best solution is always to talk with your veterinarian about which dog food is best to help with these conditions.
For the most part, any elderly dog that is suffering from heart disease may be advised to cut down on their sodium levels, while those struggling with kidney disease will need to consume less phosphorus.
The good news is that there are many options on the market, most of them located in the senior dog food section.
This is because these diseases are most likely found in geriatric canines, and special formulas have been constructed to deal with these health conditions.
Other Options for Elderly Dog Food
If your geriatric best pal is in pretty good condition and doesn’t require a special diet, it still doesn’t mean you should skimp on nutrients or adding something a little extra to help him stay in tip-top shape.
Here are two great ways to enhance your aging dog’s diet:
- Feed him fruits and vegetables. Fruits and veggies aren’t just beneficial to humans, they are great for your furry pal, too. Fruits and veggies, in moderation, are a tasty treat for your geriatric dog and it will help him with constipation- which is very common with aging dogs.
- Consider adding supplements to his food. Adding supplements, such as Vitamin E or omega fatty acids, can have a positive impact on your dog’s health and appearance. Just like you would take a vitamin supplement to improve your health, you can do the same for your dog.
Remember that it is best to always check with your veterinarian before changing your dog’s diet or adding something to his normal feeding routine.
They can give you the best advice on what is best for your dog, as every dog will need something different as they age. This is even truer if your dog is suffering from an age-related medical condition, such as the ones mentioned above.
Every dog will reach its “elderly” stage at different points in their lifetime. However, it is safe to say that almost any dog breed that reaches 13 years of age can be considered “old”. You can consider the age of 13 to 15 years old to be between 70 to 115 human years, which is clearly an elderly stage of their lives.
Every dog has special needs when it comes to their food, no matter what age they are. However, when it comes to feeding your elderly dog it may become more questionable. When it comes to soft food, it is not exactly ‘necessary’ for your older dog to eat soft foods. However, he may find it easier to handle as he ages.
This is mostly due to the fact that a lot of elderly dogs are suffering from dental conditions, such as broken teeth or infections. Chewing soft food will make it easier on your older dog in general, though, even if he isn’t struggling with a dental-related issue. (If you think there is something dentally wrong with your dog please get him checked out ASAP.)