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What to Feed Older Dogs
Dogs have different needs at different stages in their life, and as your dog gets older, he will start to need a little more TLC if he is to remain healthy and happy. One of the biggest changes to his usual care will come in the food that he eats. Chances are you have previously fed your canine pal the same food throughout his adult life. However, as he ages, the exact nutrition that he needs will change. This means that you will almost certainly need to reconsider his preferred brand of food.
Changes Experienced by Senior Dogs
Just as our bodies change as we age, so do those of dogs. Greying fur, stiffening joints, and dental disease are all extremely common problems. Your vet may give your pet a diagnosis of arthritis, which is one of the most prevalent mobility problems affecting dogs. Medical complications may develop, such as incontinence, heart disease, and diabetes, and treatment may be necessary to manage or eliminate the symptoms that your pet is experiencing. Your dog’s immune system may also need some additional support.
As your pet reaches senior age you can also expect to witness differences in his behavior. You may find that he is less tolerant of other animals and children, is more irritable and is much more vocal. He may seem more anxious and nervous than usual, and often this is the result of the loss of quality of some of his senses, such as distorted vision or hearing, that makes him feel vulnerable.
Age and Obesity in Senior Dogs
Older pets are also considerably more likely to be overweight or obese. This is because they will naturally move around less and get less exercise. Your dog may also suffer from health problems that make it difficult for him to get the exercise that he needs to manage his weight, such as arthritis. Carrying excess weight can put the health of your furbaby at serious risk and could even shorten his lifespan.
Because successful weight loss relies heavily on your dog being physically active, if he has an impairment that makes exercise difficult, it could make it impossible for him to get his weight under control. For this reason, it is imperative that you adapt your dog’s nutrition as they get older as this could help prevent excessive weight gain.
What to Feed Older Dogs
Recognizing the important physiological and psychological changes that occur in older pets, many dog food manufacturers now offer products aimed specifically at the older animal. These tend to be formulated specifically to meet their nutritional requirements. This includes:
- Lower calorie content
- Essential fatty acids, which help support joint function
- Antioxidants, which help reduce cancer risk and boost the immune system
- Higher protein levels which support maintaining muscle mass
Senior dogs are prone to becoming constipated. However, you can help prevent this by offering additional fruits and vegetables in your canine’s diet. Plain, unsweetened pumpkin is one of the best sources of natural fiber, and pumpkin can be added quite easily to most meals.
Consult with Your Vet Before Implementing Any Dietary Changes
Before you implement any changes to your pet’s diet, it is essential that you discuss them with your vet. Some medical conditions necessitate specific dietary requirements, and these may not be sufficiently met if you were to switch without professional advice. For example, dogs with kidney disease must follow a low protein diet.
If your dog is getting older and you would like further advice about what to feed him, your vet can offer you the best possible support. Make an appointment at Chaparral Veterinary Medical Center today and ensure that you get the nutrition your dog needs to stay healthy at 480-595-8600.
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