Choosing the right food for your dog can be challenging, but things become harder when they get old. While they still remain your best friend, it’s their health that starts to degrade.
Your canine friend might become weaker, and their movements become slower, indicating that there should be a change in their food and nutrition.
However, determining what you should feed your old dog is quite difficult, as there are no clear guidelines on what exactly they should eat. Besides, not every diet plan works for every dog breed.
Feeding Guide for Senior Dogs
How fast your dog will become old completely depends on their breed. While a Saint Bernard can slow down at the age of six, a Chihuahua can still stay strong at 12 years of age.
There are some other factors that need to be considered if you want the best diet and nutrition plan for your old friend.
Take a Look into Their Dental Condition
Is your dog avoiding the food he used to love while he was a puppy? Then you need to be concerned about dental health.
Your pet might start losing teeth and suffer from toothache as they grow older. They will face difficulty in chewing foods, which means you need to focus more on liquid and soft food for them.
Besides, dogs tend to lose appetite if they have severe toothache or any other dental problems. You need to address those issues first before you go for a specific diet plan.
Include Some Omega-3 Fatty Acids
While omega-3 fatty acids are known for their ability to reduce inflammation and boost your immune system, they can do the same to your dog.
Compared to puppies, senior dogs need more omega-3 in their food for the proper functioning of their heart and brain.
Consider adding more foods in their regular meals that contain these fatty acids. You can give them fish, such as sardines. You can also try adding some fish oil in their food after consulting a veterinarian.
Think About The Risk of Arthritis
Like humans, dogs have a high possibility of developing arthritis as they become older, particularly if they are a larger breed and overweight.
While planning a healthy diet for your senior dog, consider adding some joint supplements that will help ease the pain due to arthritis. Supplements that contain glucosamine and chondroitin may help reduce some of the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
There are so many commercial dog foods available in the market that claim to look into such issues. However, whether you feed your dog with homemade food or canned food, make sure they have those required nutrients.
Add Some Antioxidants
As we grow older, we tend to have more antioxidants-rich foods to reduce the signs of aging. Consider the same for your pet, as well. Antioxidants like beta-carotene and other phytonutrients are quite essential for helping your dog to fight diseases.
One of the best ways to add antioxidants is to add more fruits and veggies into their meals. Try feeding them with berries, leafy greens, turmeric, and foods that are less processed.
If your dog refuses to eat these veggies and fruits, you can try some antioxidant capsules upon discussing it with a vet.
Watch Their Weight
Your dog may become obese or extremely thin as they age, which means you need to consider those facts while feeding them.
Depending on their breed, some dogs gain so much weight as they slow down with age. On the other hand, some dogs may start losing appetite, which promotes extreme weight loss.
Based on your dog’s current weight, you need to decide exactly how much calories and fat should be included in their diet.
Choose a Healthier Option for The Treats
You may love to give some treats to your furry friend occasionally just to make them active and playful. However, as they get old, their immune systems become weak, so commercial dog treats may not be a healthy choice for them.
Instead of giving them store-bought treats, try some fresh fruits like berries, apple slices, baby carrots, etc. It is also highly recommended that you give healthy snacks to your dog since their childhood.
Consider The Digestive Issues
Your dog’s digestive system won’t be the same as it was in their childhood. As they grow old, their gut health becomes extremely sensitive, causing problems like food allergies, constipation, diarrhea, and other gastrointestinal issues.
To address this issue, you need to feed your old dog with something that is easily digestible. You can consider adding more soluble fiber if your dog suffers from constipation.
Always feed your dog with fresh foods. It’s easy for their body to break down those foods and pull nutrients from them.
Change Their Food Bowl
You don’t eat in the same plate you loved to eat in your childhood. Then why wouldn’t it be the same when it comes to your dog?
It might be easier for them to have food from a particular bowl when they were puppies. But it’s highly possible that your dog will develop some joint issues, including arthritis, as they grow old. It means they will find it difficult to bend while eating.
There are some raised bowls available in the pet store that can eliminate the need to bend. Serve your dog’s food in those bowls if he has the same issue.
A dog is the most loyal friend you can ever get in your entire life. So it’s your responsibility to take proper care of them when they get old and sick.
While there are some common factors that need to be considered while choosing the food for a senior dog, the right diet varies based on the breed of your dog.
Remember, every dog is unique. Only because your friend’s dog is responding well to a particular diet, it doesn’t mean your pet will do the same. You must always consult with an expert veterinarian before finalizing a diet for your dog.