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    Senior Dog Food: Meeting Aging Canines’ Nutritional Needs

    Experts give advice on caring for your senior dog’s nutritional needs.
    (continued)

    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,” Metzger says.

    Dogs with heart disease may need lower-calorie senior dog foods to help keep weight down as well as lower-sodium formulations.

    “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.

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