The first hairs turn gray and the movements slow down: your dog is getting old! That’s part of a dog’s life, just like a human’s life. But you can do a lot to alleviate aging in your dog. The right food for older dogs is very important at this stage of life, a diet that is tailored to the needs of older dogs ensures health and vitality at an advanced age.
More sensitive to diseases
There are many different ready-made meals for senior dogs these days. But is there really a need for special nutrition for seniors? Yes, because that age brings some changes and aches and pains. The temperament of the frolicking puppy is not much to see. The dogs are calmer and move less. Digestion is slower and intestinal performance is reduced. Digestive problems such as constipation, bloating or diarrhea are the result. Tooth pain often follows during chewing and the sense of taste diminishes. In addition, age-related diseases such as arthritis or other joint problems also occur.
Also Read: How can I stop my dog from barking?
No nice side effects of aging, but don’t worry: with the right nutrition, the aforementioned disorders can be prevented. This way, your senior dog will remain fit and healthy for a long time to come!back to menu ↑
Lots of nutrients, few calories
With a little exercise in old age, the energy requirement of the dog also decreases to a maximum of 20 percent. The decreasing activity also affects metabolism: ingested feed is no longer converted into muscle, but into fat. Being overweight can be the result. A senior menu should therefore contain fewer calories than a menu for adult dogs. But how do I reduce the number of calories in food? Of course, it is natural to reduce the amount of food by feeding smaller portions. But that’s a mistake! Because then it not only remains with calories but also valuable nutrients are lost. Nutrients such as vitamins and minerals are essential for older dogs.
Vitamin C, E, and B
L-carnitine and antioxidants such as vitamins C and E strengthen the dog’s defenses. They also trap the aggressive free radicals, which are considered to be a cause of the aging process. Vitamin E is found in sunflower oil or corn oil. When you prepare your dog’s food yourself, you can easily mix it with meat or vegetables. Other water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin B must also be present in the senior diet. However, caution is advised with the fat-soluble vitamin A. An excess can put a lot of strain on the liver. Since dogs usually like to eat liver or drink cod liver oil, a deficiency is rarer than an excess of vitamin A.
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids
Dry skin, hair loss or an increase in skin infections are not rare in older dogs. High content of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids strengthens the skin and coat and ensures that they remain healthy and shiny. Omega-6 is found in flaxseed oil. The even more valuable Omega-3 for your dog is found in fish oil, such as salmon oil. The Omega-3 fatty acids not only have a positive effect on the skin but also help to support the joints. Clinical studies have shown that a high content of Omega-3 in dog food can reduce the number of painkillers for joint problems.
Green-lipped mussel, Glucosamine, and chondroitin sulfate
Glucosamine or Chondroitin, such as Green-lipped mussel extract, have an equally positive effect on the bones and joints. Also the symptoms of already formed arthritis or hip dysplasia can be relieved with these substances.
Even at a later age, protein is the dog’s main energy supplier. Meat is considered a high-quality protein source and therefore the main component of dog food. It is particularly important to use high-quality meat later in life. Good, fresh meat not only tastes better but is better digested by the organism. Lean meats and offal, such as the heart, are also easier to digest than strong pieces of tendon and cartilage with meat.back to menu ↑
The digestive system of older dogs is more susceptible to disease than that of adult, active dogs. Not infrequently, a slowing bowel causes blockages. The food is often insufficiently chewed due to dental problems so that the intestine has problems processing the large ‘bites’. As the bacterial balance in the gut changes, older dogs are also more likely to suffer from malodorous flatulence. So an adjustment to more easily digestible food at a later age not only ensures a properly functioning digestive system, but also a better odorous climate in the house. Lean meat, chicken (slightly cooked), heart, egg, as well as a little rice, low-fat cottage cheese and Hüttenkäse (cottage cheese) can help your dog get the digestive system back on track. Highly digestible foods, such as too many carbohydrates, bone, and strong cartilage with meat should be avoided. For sensitive stomachs, it is also advisable not to give the food directly from the refrigerator, but rather at room temperature. To protect the stomach, do not suddenly change the dog’s food. Let the dog get used to the new food and gradually replace the old food. It can take a whole week for your dog to get used to the new senior food.
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Drink a lot
When older, dogs often have the same thing as people: they drink too little. However, a healthy diet should in any case include an adequate intake of water. Wet food is, therefore, better suited for drinking seniors than dry food, because with wet food the dog also immediately ingests the liquid present. To make your dog drink more again, it sometimes helps to add a small amount of ‘flavor’ to the drinking water, for example, a spoonful of poultry juice, bock sausage juice or low-salt stock. In principle, you should take abnormalities in your dog’s drinking behavior absolutely seriously and the vet can provide the answer, because drinking too little, but also too much, can be a serious condition.back to menu ↑
Ready-made food or homemade?
The most important thing for your nutrition senior dog is the quality. If you want to make your dog’s food yourself, you probably already have a good idea of what your dog does well and what he likes. You can influence the quality of the food yourself by, for example, using fresh food yourself. Fresh meat and high protein content and fresh vegetables provide the necessary vitamin intake. But even if you prefer ready-to-eat food, you can ensure that your dog is optimally cared for in old age. There are many different types of senior dog food, but unfortunately, there are just as many differences in quality. You can recognize high-quality food not only by the price but especially because the ingredients are indicated very accurately on the packaging. Make sure the ‘meat source’ is consistent,
Sugar also does not belong to dog food and is very harmful, especially for old dogs that are prone to dental problems. Unfortunately, you can often still find sugar on the shelf of ready-to-eat food. Although it is often cheaper: for the sake of your dog, don’t be tempted! Also, be careful with too many treats! Even if your dog puts on his begging look with his trusty brown eyes, permanent treats lead to obesity and can harm your dog’s health. Of course, this does not mean that you should not give treats, but pay attention to the amount and offer them separately from the daily meals. You should also pay attention to the extent to which you give your dog chew, these are difficult to digest because of the sensitive intestines. For your older dog, it is better to choose wet food than dry food.
High quality, easily digestible, nutritious, low in calories, and rich in liquids should be the food for your senior dog. In this way, your dog stays fit and healthy for a long time and he can fully enjoy the daily rounds in the fresh air. Specially tailored food can help dogs that suffer from certain diseases, such as being overweight or underweight due to loss of appetite, to reduce their complaints. For questions about the right diet, it is best to contact your veterinarian.
We wish your older dog tasty food!