Senior Dog Food: Meeting Aging Canines’ Nutritional Needs
Experts give advice on caring for your senior dog’s nutritional needs.
Do senior dogs have special nutritional needs? continued...
In that case, foods labeled “multi-stage” would be acceptable for puppies,
adults, and seniors. “You make some compromises when you do the ‘multi-stage’
diets,” Nunez says. “So they’re my second choice. But some people just can’t
separate the foods. The puppy will get into the senior diet, and the senior dog
will get into the puppy food.”
Metzger tells WebMD that when it comes to snacks, you should serve your
senior dog healthy, low-fat, low-sodiumtreats. Although many dog
owners think of bones and milk biscuits as snacks, there are alternatives.
“Vegetables are great,” Metzger says. “Most dogs like carrots and apple
slices.” But avoid grapes and raisins because they’re harmful to dogs.
Dogs may also need more water as they age. “The body’s ability to maintain
water balance is decreased as they get older,” he says. It’s important to make
sure that senior dogs have plenty of water.
What health problems can affect a senior dog’s diet?
If your dog has medical problems in its later years, you may need help from
a veterinarian or veterinary nutritionist to plan a proper diet. “Older pets
with specific conditions, like diabetes, kidney failure, or liver disease may require
special veterinary diets to assist in the treatment of their conditions,”
Dogs with heart disease may need
lower-calorie senior dog foods to help keep weight down as well as lower-sodium
“The goal of a diabetic diet is to delay absorption of a food," Nunez
says. That's important for dogs with diabetes. When foods are absorbed slowly,
blood sugar tends to rise more slowly.
Lower-fat, higher-fiber foods are best for diabetic dogs, Nunez says.
Consult your veterinarian about which type of food to buy.
Some senior dogs also have trouble with constipation, so a higher-fiber
diet will help them stay regular.
Many senior diets have higher-quality protein sources than standard foods.
This helps to maintain body weight and muscle mass without putting too much
strain on the kidneys.