It’s true that your doggo will always be your baby. But like everyone else, they grow old. And as they do, their nutritional needs evolve as well. It’s therefore essential for you to keep up with these changing needs, so that you can ensure they continue to have a healthy and happy life.
When does your baby become a senior?
For starters, let us try to understand at what age a dog can be considered a senior. According to Fred Metzger, from the Metzger Animal Hospital in Pennsylvania, US, even though it varies amongst different breeds, as a rule of thumb, it’s mostly when they have reached half their life expectancy. In addition, overweight and/or larger dogs tend to age faster than smaller dogs.
Common health problems in senior doggos and how to tackle them through food
It is extremely important for us to understand that our pets have needs that are different from ours. Something that’s beneficial for you might not be the same for your dog. Any major dietary change must be thus run through your vet.
The metabolic rate of dogs keeps getting slower as they age. For this reason, it is essential for them to be on low-calories diets, to prevent obesity from setting in. In addition, as they get older, they might develop certain health conditions. Some of the common health issues faced by senior dogs are usually pertaining to diseases of the kidney and liver, constipation, and diabetes.
A trick to tackle diabetes is through a healthy diet and to delay the absorption of food, so that the blood sugar levels can be contained. The best way to do this is to stick to low-fat and high-fibre foods.
One of the major functions of the kidney is to synthesize proteins. To ensure that the kidney is not stressed, it is essential for dogs suffering from kidney-related ailments to be fed limited amounts of sodium and protein. Reducing phosphorus content is helpful as well, as it’s often linked to a higher risk of kidney disease progression. You can take your pet’s first step towards a low-sodium, low-protein diet with these delicious biscuits by The Barkery.
It is never a pleasant sight to see your loved one suffering from a heart disease, and the issues that follow. You can, however, ease their pain to some extent with the help of a well-planned diet. The most important way to do this is to limit your dog's sodium intake. You can also supplement their diet with taurine and omega-3 fatty acids. In addition, you must be particularly careful with avoiding treats, as these often contain large amounts of salt.
If your dog suffers from osteoarthritis, it is essential that they don’t gain excessive weight, as that would add pressure to already weak joints. The best way to do this is to stick to low-fat diets. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids are known to be essential for dogs with arthritis. Foods containing chondroitin and glucosamine support joint cartilage - although it is advisable to supplement these separately after consulting with the vet, so you can stick to the correct proportions.
Many older doggos tend to have weaker or missing teeth. You do not want to further pressurize their teeth with food that is hard to chew. If your big baby also suffers from bad teeth health, stick to wet food, and avoid hard kibble.
While a senior dog may or may not suffer from the health problems mentioned above, generally, a healthy mix of low-carb and high-fiber diet is the best bet for senior doggos. For example, in dogs suffering from constipation, a high-fiber diet will ensure that they have regularized bowel movements. You can also add supplements containing chondroitin and glucosamine to help them have healthy joints. In some seniors, it becomes difficult to follow a healthy diet as they sometimes tend to refuse food. In such situations, mineral and/or vitamin supplements can help prevent deficiencies.
We hope our suggestions are helpful for you. Do keep in mind that if your doggo is suffering from any disease or discomfort of any kind, the vet knows best!