Just like humans, dogs go through many changes throughout their lifetime, many of which are associated with age. Due to their shorter lifespan these changes happen much more quickly than in humans, meaning they can have a greater effect on our canine friends. Because of this it is up to us, as responsible owners, to ensure our dogs can adapt and be as comfortable as possible while these changes are taking place.
One of the most important aspects of taking care of an ageing dog is providing the right food for the period of life that they are in. Many of us choose puppy food when our pets are young, moving them onto adult food when the time is right. But fewer of us move onto a suitable senior dog food when our pets are in their later years. However, it is just as important to cater for their advanced needs in old age as it is when they are growing into big, strong adults.Why Does My Dog Need Senior Food?
To answer the question in the title of this post, a dog requires senior food because their body requires something different, whether that is to do with joints, digestion or their coat. Senior dog foods are formulated to provide specifically for older dogs, from providing more nutrients to reducing the amount of fat content.
As dogs get older, they require more essential nutrients to help maintain and repair joints and tissue. There is also a tendency for the metabolism of senior dogs to slow down which, combined with decreased activity levels, can lead to increased fat levels and a loss of muscle. These two factors can also combine with joint issues which many older dogs suffer from, so it’s important that the food they are provided with is as catered to their needs as possible.What Problems Might My Dog Suffer From?
Many older dogs develop food intolerances in later life, often due to exposure to ingredients which are regularly used in many dog food products. Therefore you may notice slightly different ingredients in senior dog food, including the use of rice or alternative meats such as turkey. It’s also a good idea to look out for foods that contain prebiotics, which can help the digestive system.
The protein levels of senior dog food are often slightly higher than regular products in order to maintain the muscle mass of less active, older pets. On the opposite end of the scale, the calorie content should be lower as older animals are more susceptible to weight gain. It’s recommended that you check these statistics when choosing an appropriate food.
Slight weight gain in older dogs is almost a given as they tend to be less active (although it’s obviously important to keep this to a minimum and have regular check-ups with your vet). However, more serious weight gain can enhance any joint problems which your pet may be suffering from after a lifetime of running, bounding and jumping. To maintain the health of your dog’s joints, look for food that contains glucosamine.What Should I Look For In Senior Dog Food?
Many senior dog food brands will readily promote the benefits they offer for older pets, with the majority being genuine and suitable for helping your canine friend in their later years. As well as the points mentioned above, there are other ingredients that you can look out for which can help:
- Vitamin A: A good ingredient for maintaining eyesight.
- Vitamin D: Helps build and maintain healthy bones.
- Vitamin C: Less frequently produced in older dogs, it helps protect against illness and viruses.
- Glucosamine: Helps keep joints lubricated and moving.
- Calcium: Aids bone growth, therefore helping to prevent bone disease, and maintains healthy teeth and coat.
If you’re in doubt about which senior dog food is best for your pet, we would always recommend asking your vet for their advice so that you provide the most suitable food possible.