Your once-active puppy will eventually old and weak. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to enjoy more time with them until they reach their golden years. Age-related changes may start to manifest as soon as they turn 7 to 12. Your dog’s energy isn’t the only thing that will dwindle down with their age, their overall health will become more fragile too. With that, you’ll need to start planning a good senior dog diet to adjust to their needs.
While letting your dog do senior dog activities every day, like exercises or interactive sports, at the end of the day, what you put into their mouth is still the most important. Today, you’ll be reading all about senior dog diet tips and their nutritional requirements. The main objective is to maintain good health and optimum body weight while reducing the risk of chronic illnesses.
Feeding Your Senior Dog: Senior Dog Diet Tips
Consider the dog’s current build and weight
Here is a diet guideline to follow.
- Small breeds and dogs weighing less than 20 pounds—7 years of age
- Medium breeds and dogs weighing 21 to 50 pounds—7 years of age
- Large breeds and dogs weighing 51 to 90 pounds—6 years of age
- Giant breeds and dogs weighing 91 pounds or more—5 years of age
Though smaller dogs like the Chihuahua or a toy poodle mature faster, they aren’t considered senior until they reach 10 or 12 years old. Giant breeds, on the other hand, enter their senior years at age 5 or 6. As a dog ages, their health, stamina, and ability to adapt to environmental stresses decline. Metabolism will slow down too, so your senior dog will greatly benefit from a diet that caters specifically to that problem as well as other existing illnesses.
Always include protein in the diet
Experts have found out that the protein requirement for older dogs should not decrease with age. In fact, low protein levels can be extremely lethal for your pet, as it could lead to kidney failure. Other than that, dogs use protein to maintain muscle mass and exercise alone won’t cut it.
Without protein reserves, the immune system could end up being impaired and may result in a decrease of the body’s ability to respond to physical injury, infection, or even stress. A real healthy senior dog diet has to have an increase in protein-to-calorie ratio, with a minimum of 25 percent of calories from protein.
Increasing GLA and FOS Intake
To maintain your dog’s skin and coat, you should increase their intake of gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). To make sure they get the right dosage each day, it is best you pay your pet’s vet a visit to know how much your dog is only allowed to consume. GLA is actually produced by the dog’s liver, but the production of this acid in the body declines as they get older.
Other than GLA, fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are needed to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and reduce the risk of gastrointestinal disease.
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High Levels of Vitamin E and Beta-Carotene
Antioxidants are important for maintaining your senior dog’s overall health. These components are known to deter aging by helping the dog’s cells and organs resist damage. Healthy antioxidants can be found in grains, nut oils, and dark leafy vegetables. An excellent source of antioxidants is kale, as it contains vitamin E and other phytonutrients that dump toxins and carcinogens out of cells ten times faster.