Feeding The Older Dog

Feeding The Older Dog

Dog Food for the​ Older Dog

What changes do you​ need to​ make to​ your dog feeding regime as​ your dog gets older?
The changes you​ make to​ your dog feeding regime,​ and when you​ make them will vary depending on​ the​ age of​ your dog,​ and the​ breed of​ your dog.
It is​ considered that the​ larger and giant breeds of​ dog age earlier than the​ smaller and toy breeds of​ dog.
Your objective in​ managing the​ nutrition of​ the​ older dog is​ to​ enhance his quality of​ life,​ delay further ageing changes,​ and to​ extend his life whilst maintaining his optimal weight.
You are also trying to​ slow down the​ onset of​ disease and improve immune function.

Older dogs will generally be less active than younger dogs so as​ a​ rule will require a​ less energy dense dog food,​ unless of​ course the​ dog's appetite is​ reduced for some reason.
Continuing to​ feed a​ dog the​ same amount of​ food with less exercise will inevitably result in​ obesity,​ a​ problem all too common in​ many dogs today.
In the​ old dog obesity can be a​ bigger problem than in​ the​ young dog as​ there may also be concurrent arthritis and organ problems which will be made worse.
A keen eye is​ needed to​ assess the​ energy needs of​ your dog as​ it​ ages,​ so be aware and switch brands if​ your dog's weight shows marked changes as​ it​ ages.

For the​ older dog a​ good quality animal protein based on​ meat,​ fish eggs,​ milk or​ cheese is​ better than cereal protein.
A balance needs to​ be struck between providing too much protein which may be a​ problem for dogs with renal failure (a common problem in​ older dogs),​ and providing too little.
As ageing dogs tend to​ have less muscle and bone they will have less of​ a​ tissue protein reserve and need a​ certain level of​ protein in​ their diet to​ avoid a​ negative nitrogen balance.
Your veterinarian is​ the​ best person to​ monitor your ageing dog's renal function and advise the​ appropriate level of​ protein in​ his diet.
When your dog's protein intake is​ low due to​ inappetance,​ this can be increased by heating the​ food to​ increase palatability and release more aromas,​ and by feeding smaller more frequent meals and by supplementing with vitamins.

Carbohydrates are mainly provided by cereals and legumes in​ the​ diet,​ and these are a​ cheap source of​ energy.
Care should be taken with the​ sugar content of​ some of​ these foods

Fats are essential in​ the​ diet to​ provide a​ vehicle for fat soluble vitamins,​ and are essential for the​ health of​ old dogs.
However too much may result in​ obesity,​ so again moderation is​ the​ rule.

Fibre has a​ role too in​ the​ elderly dog as​ many are predisposed to​ constipation.
Adding fibre in​ the​ form of​ wheat bran or​ cooked vegetables two or​ three times a​ week will help to​ keep your elderly dog regular!

Most dog foods will have more than adequate levels of​ calcium and phosphorus for the​ older dog.
There may be a​ case for reduced levels of​ phosphorus and salt in​ the​ diet.
Some supplementation of​ zinc and vitamins may be helpful in​ the​ older dog,​ particularly the​ vitamin B complex.

The main food types for the​ older dog are - dry,​ semi-moist or​ canned.
Diet changes should be made slowly to​ prevent tummy upsets and diarrhoea.
Be sure to​ have plenty of​ water available for your dog,​ particularly if​ fed a​ dried food,​ and also if​ kidney and liver disease is​ a​ problem.

Reduced appetite in​ older dogs may be helped by feeding them 2 or​ more times per day with smaller portions so that they get their full daily requirement.

There are many commercial senior dog food diets now available.
It will pay you​ to​ thoroughly examine the​ different types to​ increase the​ life span and vitality of​ your older dog.

Feeding The Older Dog

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