As our canine companions age, they are likely to require a different diet to meet their shifting needs. Today, our Rabun County vets discuss senior dogs' dietary needs and the best dog food for older dogs.
At what age is my older dog considered elderly or geriatric?
Depending on breed and size, the age at which a dog is considered elderly or geriatric can vary. Small dogs have a life expectancy of 15-20 years, while larger dogs have a life expectancy of 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 be aware of is caloric intake. Just like with people, a dog's metabolism slows down as they age, and gaining extra weight becomes easier. This means pet owners must ensure their dog receives the correct amount of nutrients and protein to thrive without intaking too many calories.
The second consideration is to ensure that their diet contains high-fiber options. Constipation is excruciatingly painful and, if severe enough, can lead to further gastrointestinal problems. Maintaining gastrointestinal health is a common challenge for senior dogs, so 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 in some cases to assist your senior dog with their health issues. There are foods that can help with everything from kidney and liver health to the urinary tract and digestive issues.
Even if your older dog doesn't have specific health issues, it is a good idea to switch them to dog food geared towards senior dogs to help preserve their wellbeing. Talk to your vet about what the best option is for your dog.
What should I do if my senior dog won't eat their dog food?
It is relatively normal for older dogs to have some loss of appetite. If your senior dog has suddenly begun to demonstrate an unexplained loss of appetite, it is best to speak with your vet and have them rule out any potentially serious causes including dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.
Once serious medical conditions have been ruled out as the cause of your dog's appetite loss, another possibility is that your dog has grown tired of its regular food. To make your dog's dry kibble more appealing, try adding chicken broth, cooked chicken (unseasoned), or a small amount of canned food.
Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs
Below are a few of the dog foods and supplements the vets at Rabun Animal 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
Royal Canin Small Indoor Senior dry dog food (previously known as Indoor Life Senior) is designed to help your older small dog live a quiet, indoor lifestyle. Optimal levels of EPA, DHA, and an antioxidant complex promote healthy aging.
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 designed to boost 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.