Just like humans, dogs and cats must eat the right food to stay in a healthy condition. This is even more important with senior dogs’.
Dr. Barbara Royal is a vet with more than 25 years of experience and has come across many cases of canine heart disease during her career.
Dr Royal said in an interview that when older pets are fed diets that contain high-fat content, they can develop heart disease much earlier than dogs of the same age fed on a low-fat diet.
This is why vets strongly recommend that owners of senior pets follow some simple nutrition tips to help ensure their best friend hopefully lead a long and healthy life.
Ensure they have high-quality dog food that is low in fat.
If you have a more senior pet, then you may wish to consider a dog food designed for 7+
These foods are specially designed to be lower in fat etc. and are lower in calories.
It is also essential to follow the feeding guide on the packet so you do NOT overfeed
Select healthy treats for dogs
As dogs get older, it is recommended to reduce the number of treats. You should aim for the treats to be no more than 10% of their daily calorie intake, although if the treats are more natural such as vegetables, this could be increased.
When giving your senior dog treats, why not consider vegetables which are healthier and low in fat or just weighing out a small portion of their daily food that can be used as a treats
Regular vet checkup
As dogs get older, they can be more inclined to illnesses such as diabetes and heart issues, along with other problems. Therefore, it is recommended that you take your dogs to the vet at least twice a year for medical to catch problems early – just like humans.
It goes without saying that if your pet show signs of being under the weather or their normal behaviour has changed, then it is essential to contact the vet for advice.
Obesity can lead to numerous health problems, including arthritis and diabetes. Senior dogs are at greater risk of becoming obese because they usually have less energy to burn extra calories. That’s why Royal recommends learning more about portion control and training games.
Keep certain foods out of reach of Senior dogs.
Cat food is high in protein and so can be a challenge for dogs digestive systems at the best of times but even more so for the elderly dog.
It is essential to avoid fatty treats and anything that contains corn
Another important note about table scraps is that they can often cause food allergies, stomach upsets, and obesity. They usually have salt as well, which is bad for dogs
Whilst feeding plain leftover chicken in small amounts is probably ok, we mustn’t give our senior dogs any meat that has been cured or preserved with sodium nitrites. For example, bacon and ham.
Dogs, in general, find digesting salt or meat preservatives very well at all. It is therefore much safer to stick to fresh meat and avoid all preserved meats
10 Top Senior Dog Nutrition Tips to consider with senior dogs:
Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight
If your dog is 20% or more over the recommended/ideal weight, it is obese, and you should consider a diet.
Talk to your vet about how much you should be feeding out dog daily and also look at the food that is lower in calorie and formulated for dogs over 7
Introduce new foods gradually.
Adding new flavours and textures too quickly may cause gastrointestinal upset in your older dog, so look for small changes that are less likely to be noticed by your pet.
Add natural supplements
If your senior dog is having trouble getting around, the addition of joint-support supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can help. I recommend reading the blog post on Dorwest Herbs website on How to care for an elderly dog.
Be watchful for anaemia.
An anaemic dog may be lethargic and may tire more easily. Anaemia in dogs can be brought on by several factors, including blood loss due to wounds, the ingestion of toxins, or internal parasites.
Check for gum disease.
Your dog’s gums may be red and inflamed if she has a periodontal infection, leading to a loss of her teeth and a painful death by starvation since chewing is too painful. If you’re unable to brush your dog’s teeth yourself, consult your veterinarian about a safe and effective home care program to manage your dog’s periodontal disease.
Watch out for urinary tract infections.
A common sign of a urinary tract infection in dogs is frequently urinating, often in the house. In addition to frequent potty breaks, watch for an unwillingness to play or romp as well as visible pain when your dog begins to urinate.
Exercise is essential –
Even if your senior pooch has slowed down, she still needs regular exercise to keep muscles toned and joints healthy. Gentle walks are best for ageing dogs, so use a leash to assist her in climbing or jumping activities.
Take care of your dog’s teeth.
If your dog’s constant chewing has caused painful dental disease, you may need to consult with an oral surgeon.
Just like us, dogs need medical care throughout their lives
Don’t neglect regular checkups or necessary vaccinations just because your dog is older. Disease and illness don’t discriminate based on age, so keep her healthy and happy throughout her life.
Consider pet insurance
Pet insurance from an early age can be with it. Whilst you may feel you are paying out up to £80 PLus a month for no reason when they are younger, you will benefit more senior years.
It is important to remember that an older dog still needs exercise. This, combined with a well-balanced diet, can help your more senior dog live a healthier and happier life in his golden years.
Also, take a look at our article on How to entertain and exercise an elderly dog.
Derek Chambers of Finchley Dog Walker offers dog walks for elderly dogs