Your dog is part of your family, and just like any family member, we want to make sure we take care of them. As humans get older, we can’t eat the same way we did back in our “good ole’ days.” The same is true with dogs. As the dog ages, they can’t eat the same things they did when they were young.
But before you go searching for the best dog food for senior dogs, you need to answer the question, “Is my dog even considered a senior?”
How To Know If Your Dog is Now a Senior
We all know dogs age differently from us, but how do you know if your furry-friend is considered a senior? Does he have more noticeable gray on his muzzle? Look at this list and see if any sound familiar.
- decreased activity
- behavior problems
- dental issues
- stiffness of the joints
- weight loss or gain
- pack ranking change (in homes with more than one dog)
If you do have more than one pooch in your home and the younger one becomes the new “alpha,” that’s a clear sign your older pup is entering the senior years. A noticeable shift in dominance will occur. On the other end of the spectrum, a puppy, when trying to play with an old dog, may become annoying. This can prompt unwanted aggression towards the pup.
In general, dogs aged 7 or above are considered senior. Some dog breeds have a shorter life expectancy, so seven years does not apply. Then again, some dogs are considered senior at the ripe old age of 10 or even 12 years. If any of these seems to fit your situation, then you may have a senior dog.
The Best Diet For a Senior Dog
Now that we’re a little more informed on canine seniors, what is the best food for them?
1. Your Dog Needs Protein
Most senior brand dog foods cut the protein. Not all of them do though. Wellness Complete Health Senior has 22 percent protein with 416 kcal/cup. Avoderm Senior Health+ Lamb and Chicken meal has a whopping 28 percent protein and 350kcal/cup.
Either of these would be an excellent choice to keep that muscle on your old dog. Both sites have ingredients listed so you can see if they are appropriate for dogs with health issues.
2. Prescription Food
When it comes to prescription food, you still have to look at labels. High protein, antioxidants, and minerals are all necessary for a healthy senior. If you have concerns, your vet can review the food content with you. Most contain high-quality ingredients with no artificial flavorings or colors.
One major brand of prescription food is Hill’s. They have been producing dog food since the 1930s, and it shows. Hill’s Science Diet Adult 7+ Active Longevity dry food is a balanced nutrient rich option. It has almost 20% protein and 364 k/cal per cup. Looking through all their reviews, it’s easy to see customers love it.
3. Home Cooked Options
Let’s face it, regular dog food is pretty dull. I couldn’t imagine going a week on the same food, years would be out of the question. So, why not cook for your old pooch?
Not only can you give him something nutritious, but it would be a delicious change from the same old thing. A slow-cooker is an excellent preparation idea. You can find plenty of slow cook dog recipes online. You can make what you want, set a timer, and walk away.
Also, supplements can easily be added this way. Just be sure to let it cool before you give it to your dog.
4. Shipped to Your Door
There are companies out there that will cook dog food and ship it straight to your door. These places take into consideration the age, breed, weight, and health issue when it comes to a meal plan.
One of the more thorough companies, “Just Food for Dogs,” charge a one-time fee of $250 to customize a meal plan with optimal nutrition. After that, there is a weekly or monthly meal cost.
“Ollie” is another company to offer this service. They cover all the basics — your pet’s birthday, breed, and allergies, to name a few. Their meals only include a portion of your dog’s calorie needs, so they recommend using it with your pet’s regular meal. Their price per week isn’t too high, no extra fees, and they offered four standard proteins.
5. Dog treats
Why dog treats? Your dog has been a good boy for a long time. A tasty, soft treat with good ingredients for senior dogs is Wellness Wellbites. They’re grain-free, soft, full of antioxidants, and have plenty of protein choices.
Remember the nursery rhyme about the lady that couldn’t give her poor dog a bone? “Old Mother Hubbard” dog treats (sold on Amazon) has treats geared towards hips and joints. All-natural ingredients and mobility supporting glucosamine. She couldn’t get one for her dog, but you can get a whole bag.
General Health Advice For Aging Dogs
You want to be on top of your pet’s health. Routine veterinarian visits and some tests are an excellent preventative measure. They also have great importance in senior dogs. You want to make sure he is aging well and catch any potential problems before they become serious. Aging dogs may end up with health issues such as kidney or liver problems, diabetes, or even hypothyroidism. These are all manageable, but you want to catch them early on.
Older dogs need extra care to maintain a healthy, quality life. They still need exercise to keep up muscle tone, and the right foods feed those muscles.
Dental issues can be painful for anyone, dog or human, and can make your dog not want to eat. Did you know canned food can make plaque worse on your dog’s teeth? Wet food sticks to teeth more and will cause harmful bacteria buildup. Plaque can lead to tooth decay and diseased gums. That’s why dental cleanings are recommended. If your dog has painful or missing teeth, he can’t eat well. Then his nutrition suffers. This can have a snowball effect.
Joints are another thing to look at. Arthritis in dogs can cause changes in eating habits as well. Because of all these issues, you’ll want to take your senior dogs diet seriously.
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