As our canine companions grow older, they will likely require a different diet to meet their changing nutritional requirements. Today, our Pleasant Hill vets talk about senior dogs' dietary needs and the foods they recommend for them.
At what age is my older dog considered elderly or geriatric?
Depending on the breed and size of the dog, the age at which it is considered elderly or geriatric can vary. Small dogs can live for 15-20 years on average, while larger dogs can expect to live for 12-15 years.
As bigger dogs age faster, they are considered to be "older" around the time they turn 6, while small dogs generally pass into middle age at around 8 years of age.
Do senior dogs have special nutritional needs?
Yes, there are two major things to consider when determining the best dog food for senior dogs.
The first thing to consider is calorie consumption. A dog's metabolism slows as they age, just like a person's, making it easier to gain weight. This means that pet owners must ensure that their dog gets the right amount of nutrients and protein to thrive without overeating.
The second thing to think about is including high-fiber foods in their diet. Constipation is unpleasant, and if it persists, it can lead to other gastrointestinal problems. Because maintaining gastrointestinal health is a common challenge for senior dogs, the best dog food for senior dogs will contain plenty of fiber to keep them healthy and regular.
Will special food help my senior dog with their health issues?
Your vet may prescribe specialized diets to help your senior dog with their health issues in some cases. Some foods can help with everything from kidney and liver health to the urinary tract and digestive problems.
Even if your senior dog doesn't have any specific health issues, it's a good idea to switch them to senior dog food to help them stay healthy. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for your dog.
What should I do if my senior dog won't eat their dog food?
It's fairly common for older dogs to experience a loss of appetite. If your senior dog has developed an unexplained loss of appetite, consult your veterinarian immediately to rule out any potentially serious causes, such as dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.
Once serious medical conditions have been ruled out as the cause of your dog's loss of appetite, another possibility to consider is that your dog has grown tired of its regular food. To make your dog's dry kibble more appealing, try adding things like chicken broth, cooked chicken (unseasoned), or a small amount of canned food.
Best Dog Food for Older Dogs
Below are a few of the dog foods and supplements the vets at Diablo View Veterinary Hospital recommend for senior dogs. Ask your vet about the best dog food for older dogs.
For Small Dogs
Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™
Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™ Dry dog food provides precisely balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition tailored to older small & toy breed dogs.
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition SMALL Indoor Senior Dry for Dogs
The Royal Canin Small Indoor Senior dry dog food (formerly known as Indoor Life Senior) is designed to help your older small dog live a quiet, indoor life. Healthy aging is supported by optimal levels of EPA, DHA, and a complex of antioxidants.
For Large Dogs
Royal Canin Size Health Nutrition LARGE 8+ Dry for Dogs
Canin Large Aging 8+ dry dog food (formerly Maxi Aging 8+) is formulated to maintain the vitality of your large senior dog. An exclusive antioxidant complex promotes cellular health and helps to reduce the signs of aging.
For Dogs with Food Intolerances
BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet™ Dog HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance Dry
Formulated for dogs experiencing food sensitivities, BLUE HF Hydrolyzed for Food Intolerance helps minimize the chance of adverse reactions to common proteins.
Supplements For Senior Dogs
SmartCanine™ Joint Senior Soft Chews
SmartCanine™ Joint Senior Soft Chews are designed to support healthy joints and normal inflammatory responses in senior dogs.
SmartCanine™ Combo Senior Soft Chews
SmartCanine™ Combo Senior Soft Chews are designed to provide support for joint, digestive, skin, and coat health in senior dogs.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.