As your dog ages, their diet becomes increasingly important for their overall health. Our Diamond Bar vets address the best types of food that can help keep your senior dog happy and healthy.
At What Age Are Dogs Considered Elderly Or Geriatric?
Every dog is unique, so we cannot provide a one-size-fits-all answer to this inquiry. A dog's anticipated lifespan can vary depending on breed and size. Generally, 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.
Does my senior dog have specific nutritional requirements?
When looking for the best dog food for senior dogs, remember two key factors:
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 because constipation is a common problem for aging dogs, and if left untreated, it can lead to more serious digestive issues. It can also be quite uncomfortable for your furry friend.
To maintain your older dog's digestive health, prioritize dog food that is rich in fiber to keep them regular.
What should I do if my senior dog won't eat?
Sometimes, we notice that older dogs have lost at least some of their appetite. The reason for this can vary widely in both scope and severity. It could be due to something as simple as an upset stomach, or they could be suffering from the effects of cancer.
Speak with your vet if your senior dog has suddenly begun to display an unexplained loss of appetite to have them rule out any potentially serious causes, including kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, or dental disease.
Once any serious medical conditions are ruled out, you might consider a straightforward solution - maybe your dog is just bored with their usual 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.
Which health issues can the best dog food for senior dogs help prevent?
Is your older dog dealing with health issues like kidney problems, diabetes, or liver disease? They might require a special diet to help control these conditions. If your dog is unwell and you're worried about how their diet might affect them, it's a good idea to talk to your veterinarian for guidance.
Best Dog Food for Older Dogs
Our team at Diamond Bar Veterinary Clinic has put together a list of some of the best types of dog foods for senior dogs. Ask your vet which senior dog food is best for your pet.
Prescription Dog Food
Consider your senior dog's unique situation and health. Sometimes, a prescription dog food could be the right choice. In other instances, your vet might suggest switching to a healthier option.
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 Diamond Bar 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 will help to prevent constipation and keep their bowels working regularly.
Dog Food High in Protein
Most senior dog foods have better protein sources than regular dog food. This helps senior dogs maintain a 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 can 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.