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Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Your dog's diet will play a role in their health and wellbeing throughout their life. Here, our Thornton vets share some information about the impact of diet on your aging pup and how choosing the best dog food for your senior dog can help keep them healthy.

Has your dog reached their golden years?

While each dog is different and their anticipated lifespan can vary depending on breed and size, there is a standard age that each size of dog reaches their senior years.

As a general rule, small dogs can be expected to live between 15 and 20 years, while larger dogs typically live from about 12 to 15 years. Usually, smaller dogs enter middle age at around 8 years old, while larger dogs age faster and are considered "older" around the time they turn 6 years old.

What kind of dietary needs do senior dogs have?

There are two things you should consider first and foremost when choosing a diet for your senior dog.

First, try to make sure it's low in calories. Like people, as a dog ages, their metabolism will slow down, which is why it's important to prevent our furry best friends from chowing down too ferociously to keep obesity at bay.

Second, bring high-fiber options into their diet. For aging dogs, constipation is a fairly common issue and may lead to further gastrointestinal issues if it becomes severe enough. Plus, it can be painful. 

Keeping your older dog's gastrointestinal system healthy should be a high priority, so the best dog food for older dogs will contain lots of fiber to keep them regular. 

My senior dog doesn't want to eat, why?

As dogs age we commonly see a decrease in their appetite as well. Causes for sudden loss of appetite are hugely varied both in scope and severity; your dog could be suffering from simple nausea brought on by gastrointestinal problems, or they could be suffering from the effects of cancer. 

If your dog's appetite has declined, you should schedule an exam with your vet to have them rule out any potentially serious causes including kidney disease, cancer, diabetes or dental disease. 

Once serious medical conditions have been ruled out as the cause for appetite loss, another avenue for consideration is the simplest one--perhaps your dog is simply tired of their regular food.

Adding chicken broth, some water, or a small amount of canned food to your dog's dry kibble supply may serve to make it more enticing. You could also try preparing a simple meal for your dog of cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice. These home-cooked meals are both nutritious and bland enough to sit well with them if your older dog is experiencing some nausea.

Can diet help to address health issues that affect senior dogs?

If your dog has developed any conditions that commonly come with old age, such as diabetes, speak with your vet about how changing their diet may be able to help.

Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

Your vet will be a great source of information when it comes to choosing the best dog food for your older dog. Here are some that may be right for your aging pup:

Prescription Dog Food

Depending on your dog's specific circumstances and health conditions, in some cases, a medical prescription dog food might be the best option for your senior pooch. In other cases, your vet may simply recommend you switch to a healthy alternative. 

Low-Calorie Dog Food

Low-calorie senior dog food can benefit dogs that are at a higher risk for heart disease (or who have already been diagnosed with it), as it will help keep their weight down. Low-sodium recipes are preferred. 

High-Fiber, Low-Fat Dog Food

Our veterinarians in Thornton recommend owners of pre-diabetic or diabetic dogs place a high priority on the slow absorption of food. Blood sugar tends to rise more slowly with special diabetic diets, reducing the risk of health complications. These diets are also exceptionally high in fiber and low in fat.

As mentioned previously since older dogs commonly struggle with constipation, the higher the amount of fiber, the better. This can help to keep your dog's bowels moving as they should.

Dog Food High in Protein

Many senior dog foods will also contain higher-quality protein sources than standard dog food, which can help senior dogs maintain healthy body weight without putting unnecessary strain on their aging kidneys. 

Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

If your senior dog has allergies, your vet might recommend limited-ingredient dog foods, which include just a single protein source (such as chicken, beef or lamb), often combined with one carbohydrate source. 

This can be used to eliminate allergens that might be causing allergic reactions or symptoms. When looking for limited-ingredient dog foods, it's important to check for the Association of American Feed Control's (AAFCO) seal of approval, in addition to a "complete and balanced" claim from the manufacturer.   

Your vet will be able to provide dietary recommendations for your senior or diabetic dog, along with comprehensive geriatric care and exams.

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.

Do you have a senior dog that could use a routine examination while you receive some guidance for their diet? Contact our Thornton vets to book an appointment today.

New Patients Welcome

Caring Hands Veterinary Hospital is always accepting new patients! Our vets are passionate about providing kind and loving veterinary care to Thornton companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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