Senior dog food vs regular: There are a lot of important things to pay attention to when raising a dog, such as grooming, how much exercise is necessary, and of course which food is right for him. And if your dog is starting to fall into the elderly category- which is for the most part between 7 and 12 years old, then you might consider purchasing senior dog food.
So, senior dog food vs. regular – what’s the difference? Senior dog foods may contain fewer calories or fat, but for the most part, the ingredients remain close. Unless you are looking at prescription senior dog foods, such as those specifically designed for older dogs struggling with obesity, arthritis, or kidney and heart disease, there isn’t much of a difference.
So what should you, as the owner of a geriatric doggy, do to make sure your dog is being fed correctly in his later years? We are going to discuss the differences between regular and senior dog food. We will also be commenting on why you should or should not change dog foods, and what to look out for when you’re looking on the market.
The Difference Between Regular and Senior Dog Food
If you take a gander at the ingredients of your dog’s regular dog food and the senior brand you’re considering, you might notice that they are basically one and the same.
So does that mean that senior and regular dog food is the same, or are there differences to them?
Let’s take a better look:
According to M.B. Lachlei of Senior Dog Food vs. Adult Dog Food, “the words ‘senior’ on pet food is nothing more than a marketing term”.– M.B. Lachlei
This is due to the simple fact that the Association for American Feed Control Officers requires that all adult dog foods (instead of puppy ‘growing’ dog foods) contain at least 18% of protein and 5% of fat- and both adult and senior dog foods have this.
Does that mean that you shouldn’t consider switching to senior dog food once your beloved best friend has reached that point in their life?
No, not exactly.
If your dog is in good health, there is no reason to switch to adult dog food.
However, if he is starting to get a little belly on him, you might simply want to cut down on the amount given to him.
The Difference in Calories, Fiber, and Fat
Perhaps one of the biggest differences between senior and regular dog food is that senior dog food tends to have a lower calorie content than regular dog food, with higher fiber content (possibly) less fat.
But is this healthy?
And why lower anything when it comes to your dog’s breakfast, lunch, and dinner?
Well, the reason behind this is fairly simple:
your geriatric dog probably is not as active as he used to be, which means he is burning fewer calories. His metabolism also slows down, so he is naturally not utilizing all of those calories on a day-to-day basis.
With less activity and a slowed metabolism, it can be fairly easy for elderly dogs to become overweight, and eventually obese.
While you have the option of cutting down on the amount of dog food you are supplying your dog, or you can try swapping out his regular dog food for a senior dog food that is just as dense in nutrients, just fewer calories.
Senior dogs can also be struck with gastrointestinal issues, such as constipation, due to their lack of exercise and slow metabolisms. They require the help of added fiber in their diets to combat this issue, amongst other issues. That is why so many senior dog foods increase the fiber content.
Specialty Senior Dog Foods
Where the biggest differences come into play is when your elderly dog is suffering from certain old-age medical conditions. Some of these include arthritis, kidney disease, and heart disease. These types of medical conditions require specialty senior dog foods that are very different from regular dog foods.
A lot of dogs will struggle with arthritis and mobility issues in general as they get older. This can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for your dog, which may also lead him to exercise less. This, of course, only extends the problem as they become less active and gain more weight.
That being said, if your dog is suffering with arthritis, then your vet will likely suggest a specialty senior dog food that is fortified with the proper ingredients- such as omega fatty acids and vitamin E- to help ease the pain and get them moving again.
2. Kidney, Liver and Heart Disease
There are certain ways to handle a senior dog struggling with kidney, heart, and liver disease. Each requires a certain set of ingredients that are designed to help your aching dogs. For instance, a dog who is struggling with kidney disease will need to consume less protein in order to handle the disease.
Diabetes is another common issue amongst elderly dogs as they begin to move less and pack on the weight easier. Diabetes can also come from other issues, such as a bad diet during their earlier years and getting into certain foods- such as chocolate- that they shouldn’t have.
Specialty senior dog foods designed for those struggling with diabetes are constructed to be absorbed at a slower rate. The ingredients may also be shuffled to have fewer carbs and lack other ingredients that can cause diabetes to worsen. This, in turn, will lead to a happier and healthier dog that isn’t being plagued with the troublesome symptoms of diabetes.
Which Senior Dog Food is Best?
There are a lot of senior dog foods on the market.
If you are considering switching, but your dog does not suffer from any type of medical condition, here is a list of the top 10 senior dog foods on the market to make your choice easier:
- Orijen Senior High-Protein
- Wellness Core Senior Dog Food
- go! Solutions Carnivore Senior
- Nulo Senior Grain-Free
- Victor Senior Healthy Weight
- Halo Holistic Senior (wet)
- Canidae Pure Senior
- Diamond Naturals Senior
- Iams Protective Health Mature
- Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind
If your dog is suffering from a medical condition, though, then you should always consult your veterinarian on what the best choice is for your elderly dog.
They will be able to guide you on what dog foods are best for your geriatric dog and his specific situation. These specialty dog foods are designed to help him remain healthier and stronger, so it’s not something to overlook.
It really comes down to his health. If your dog is in his elderly years- which could begin as early as 7 years old for the larger breeds- but is still in good health, you shouldn’t need to switch. However, if your dog is suffering from health problems, whether they are large or small, you will need to switch to make his life easier and make sure he stays healthy.
For the most part, you can get by feeding your dog once or twice a day. Of course, if your dog is struggling with holding onto weight, you might consider upping it to three or four times a day (but with a bit smaller portions). You might consider bulking it up with other ingredients, too.