As our dogs enter their senior years, their diet becomes crucial for maintaining their overall health. In this regard, our veterinarians at Woburn are here to address common inquiries regarding geriatric care and provide insights into the best types of food for senior dogs.
At What Age is My Dog Considered Elderly or Geriatric?
It's important to note that every dog is an individual, and there is no one-size-fits-all answer to lifespan estimations. The anticipated lifespan of a dog can vary based on factors such as breed and size. Generally, small dogs tend to have a longer lifespan, ranging from 15 to 20 years, while larger dogs typically live from about 12 to 15 years.
Does My Senior Dog Have Specific Nutritional Needs?
When selecting the best dog food for senior dogs, we recommend considering two main criteria:
1. Low in calories: As dogs age, their metabolism tends to slow down. It is important to prevent excessive weight gain and obesity by choosing a dog food that is low in calories. This helps to maintain a healthy weight and reduces the risk of obesity-related health issues.
2. High in fiber: Aging dogs often experience constipation, which can lead to gastrointestinal problems and discomfort. Including high-fiber options in their diet is beneficial for maintaining regular bowel movements and promoting a healthy gastrointestinal system.
Prioritizing the health of your older dog's gastrointestinal system is crucial. Look for dog foods that contain ample amounts of fiber to support regularity and digestive health.
Remember, consulting with your veterinarian can provide further guidance in selecting the best dog food that meets the specific nutritional needs of your senior dog.
What Should I Do If My Senior Dog Won't Eat Their Food?
The sudden loss of appetite in older dogs can have various causes, ranging in severity. It could be due to gastrointestinal issues causing nausea or be a symptom of more serious conditions like cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, or dental problems.
If your senior dog experiences an unexplained loss of appetite, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to rule out any underlying medical conditions. They can conduct appropriate tests and examinations to identify potential causes and provide appropriate treatment.
Once serious medical conditions have been ruled out, you can explore other options to stimulate your dog's appetite. Sometimes, dogs may simply become tired of their regular food. You can try adding chicken broth, water, or a small amount of canned food to their dry kibble to make it more enticing. Another option is to prepare a simple home-cooked meal for your dog, such as cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice. These meals are nutritious and can be easier on their stomach if they are experiencing nausea.
Always remember to discuss any changes to your dog's diet with your veterinarian to ensure they receive the necessary nutrients and that the new food is suitable for their specific needs.
Which Health Issues Can The Best Dog Food For Senior Dogs Help Prevent?
If your senior dog has health conditions like kidney failure, diabetes, or liver disease, it is highly likely that they will require a special diet to manage and support their condition. These special diets are designed to provide the necessary nutrition while taking into account the specific needs and restrictions imposed by the health condition.
If you have concerns about the effects of your dog's diet on their health, it is always recommended to consult with your veterinarian. They can provide tailored advice and guidance based on your dog's specific condition and dietary requirements. Your vet will be able to recommend the most suitable diet and provide instructions on feeding guidelines and any necessary adjustments.
Best Dog Food For Older Dogs
Our team at Woburn Animal Hospital 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
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 Woburn 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 for 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 amount of fiber, the better. This will help to prevent constipation and keep their bowels working regularly.
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 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 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.