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Guide to Finding and Feeding the Best Senior Dog Foods - May 16, 2019

Guide to Finding and Feeding
the Best Senior Dog Foods

Nulo Freestyle Senior and Origin Senior rated 5 Stars
from Dog Food Advisor 2019 ! Available at Pets Pets Pets, Califon.

Over the last 10 years, we’ve collected dozens of tips and ideas from owners, breeders and veterinary experts about feeding older dogs.
We’ve also answered lots of questions, too.

 

dog-beagle

 

When Does a Dog Become a Senior?

Not all dogs get grey hair around their muzzles. And many are as playful as a puppy for their entire lives.
In fact, you may not even realize your dog is growing older until she starts to show the early signs of aging such as…

  • Joint stiffness
  • Dental problems
  • Cloudy eyes

Yet many of these telltale signs can be prevented or managed with the right senior food.
You may have also noticed that small dogs seem to age more slowly than large dogs. It’s true. A small dog can live to be as old as 20 years. But a large dog can reach maturity much sooner.

So, how do you know exactly when your dog has entered her golden years?

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association…2
“…small dogs are generally considered senior at 7 years of age. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans… and are often considered senior when they are 5 to 6 years of age.”
Of course, all dogs are different. A healthy diet, regular exercise and good dental care can help extend your dog’s middle age phase.

How Much Protein Does
Your Older Dog Need?

Despite what you may heave heard…
Your mature dog needs more quality protein in their diet than a younger dog. Not less. That’s because (like humans), seniors need to replace wasting muscle mass as they age.
What’s more…
A dog food high in quality, meat-based protein will not strain (healthy) older dog’s kidneys. However, if your dog has already been diagnosed with kidney disease, be sure to ask your vet about prescribing an appropriate diet.
Although adult dog foods can legally contain as little as 18%, each of our recommended senior recipes contain at least 27% protein.

Should All Older Dogs
Eat Senior Food?

No. In most cases, that’s not necessary. In fact, if your older dog is healthy and eating a quality, balanced diet, there’s really no reason to switch to a senior dog food.
Just be sure the food you’re currently feeding contains an above-average amount of meat-based protein and moderate calories.

Weight Management Tips
for Your Senior Dog

Although obesity contributes to health issues in dogs of all ages, it’s especially harmful to seniors.
Extra weight means your dog’s joints have to work harder… and they may already be inflamed from arthritis, hip dysplasia or a luxated knee cap.
What’s more, dogs are naturally more prone to obesity as they age. According to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science…3
“Because of decreased physical activity and slowed metabolism, older dogs need 20% fewer total calories than do middle-aged adult dogs.”
So, a low calorie food can help your dog lose or maintain her weight without feeling hungry all the time.

What’s the Ideal Serving Size
for a Senior Dog Food?

Since every animal is unique…
It’s impossible to predict the serving size that’s “perfect” for each dog… and each brand.
So, start with the package’s feeding instructions… or the amount suggested by our dog food calculator. If you use the calculator, be sure to use the “senior” setting to estimate an appropriate serving size for your older dog.
Either method will work because you’re using it only as a starting point.
Then, over time…Adjust that serving size up or down to reach and maintain your dog’s ideal weight.

Use Your Dog’s Body Condition Score
to Discover Her Ideal Weight

Knowing and maintaining your dog’s ideal weight can help you determine the best serving size and can significantly extend your pet’s life.
14-year landmark study by Purina found that…
Dogs fed to ideal body condition lived 1.8 years longer than their overweight litter mates.
That’s a bonus of nearly 2 extra years of life…

Remember, every dog is different. If you’re feeding the recommended amount, but your dog is not losing weight (or if she’s always hungry), you may need to make some adjustments.
Talk to your vet if you’re unsure of your dog’s ideal weight and body condition.

What If My Senior Dog
Is Losing Weight?

If your older dog is losing weight with no obvious explanation, the cause could be dental pain, a chronic condition or side effects from a medication. See your vet to rule out a serious underlying cause.
Often, senior dogs seem to get pickier because their sense of smell and taste are not what they used to be. If this is the case, it’s time to make your dog’s food more exciting.

 

Using Tasty Toppers to
Improve Your Dog’s Appetite

Another way to enhance your dog’s appetite is to add tasty additions to their food. Mixing a few tablespoons of a quality canned food to your dog’s kibble can help.
Toppers can make up about 10-20% of your dog’s diet. You’ll need to be mindful of added calories and nutrients.
[Adding a combination of orange and green vegetables and freeze dried proteins can considerably up the nutrition value and taste for your pet. For ease of use consider Canine Caviar freeze dried vegetable mix and Instinct Mixers freeze dried proteins. Both are available at Pets Pets Pets.] Fresh, raw or cooked chicken or beef can also get your dog to drool over their meals again. Eggs are another popular appetizer… scrambled or boiled with no salt, oil or seasonings, please!
If raw or cooked foods make up a significant part of your dog’s diet, you may want to go with a commercially prepared formula to ensure you’re not throwing off the nutritional balance of your dog’s diet. Raw or freeze dried raw food can be mixed with kibble to boost its flavor.

Diet Rotation Can Lower Risk
and Cure a Boring Menu

Since there’s no such thing as a “perfect” dog food, it’s safe to assume any food you feed your dog could be defective.
Too much of one nutrient… too little of another. Or the food may contain hidden toxins.
And you’d never even know it.
What’s worse…
The effect of consuming these defective foods tends to be magnified when you feed them continuously… day-in and day-out.
For a lifetime.
Unlike a conventional feeding plan where the same food is served continuously over a period of years…
Diet rotation involves varying a dog’s menu on a daily, weekly, or other periodic basis…
Which can help lower the risk associated with unknowingly feeding an imperfect dog food.
Diet rotation is the opposite of putting all your eggs into one basket.

Keeping Your Senior Dog Healthy

Your senior dog’s health can decline unexpectedly. And quickly. A basic, yearly vet exam may no longer be enough to keep your dog’s health in check.
Consider seeing your vet twice a year for a full blood panel to check your senior for chronic conditions like kidney disease, hypothyroidism, diabetes and arthritis. These conditions are best caught early and are often easy to manage with dietary changes, supplements and medication.
Also keep an eye on any sudden changes in your dog’s health. While it’s not unusual for a younger dog to have tummy troubles for a few days after eating something weird, even a short bout of illness can put your senior’s health at risk.

Preventing Dental Problems in Older Dogs

Just because your dog is old, doesn’t mean she should have to live with poor dental health.
Sadly, an overload of harmful bacteria in your dog’s mouth can spread through her bloodstream and put a strain on her heart, liver and kidneys. In fact, dental disease is one of the most common causes of chronic kidney disease.
Simply caring for your dog’s teeth can prevent some of these conditions… and save you thousands in vet bills.
To help older pets who suffer from missing teeth or other dental issues, you may wish to consider a wet dog food. These types of dog foods are ideal for animals who have difficulty chewing.

Feeding Your Senior Dog
for Better Mobility

Many senior dog food formulas include a source of omega-3 fatty acids like fish oil. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to your dog’s immune system, protect your dog’s heart, and can also improve her joint health and mobility.
So, finding salmon or other fish oils in your dog’s food can be a good thing.

Supporting Your Older Dog’s Digestive Health

The best way to judge the digestibility of a food is to monitor your dog’s stools.
A mature dog is more likely to experience gastric issues. That’s because chronic illnesses, medications, and normal bodily changes can all contribute to bowel irregularities.
Like humans, dogs seem to be more prone to constipation as they get older. Others may experience diarrhea, while some develop bowel movements that swing widely from one extreme to the next.
Tummy troubles of any kind can make it more difficult for your dog’s body to break down and utilize the nutrients in their food.

Probiotics, when added to your dog’s food, introduce friendly bacteria to your dog’s gut. These bacteria help break down food. They also support your dog’s immune system by fighting off harmful microorganisms.
Added fiber in some senior dog foods can improve loose stools and also be beneficial to those with constipation.
Switch gradually when changing formulas. And keep an eye on your dog’s stools to see if a particular food is agreeable with her. A healthy stool is firm and easy to pick up… yet easy to pass without straining.

Good nutrition can help your dog live a longer, healthier, happier life. See us at Pets Pets Pets in Califon for your pets’ needs. We’re happy to help and we will carry your bags to the car.

Source: Dog Food Advisor “Best Senior Dog Foods for 2019”

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