Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Should I Switch My Senior Dog To Wet Food

Senior Dog Food Vs Regular Dog Food

How To Transition from Dry To Wet Food

Senior dogs require fewer calories than their younger, more active counterparts. If your older dog is relatively healthy, you may be able to get away with keeping them on the same formula and adjusting the serving size to accommodate their level of activity.

Some senior dogs will benefit from special formulas designed to help strengthen their bodies and fight against these common ailments that come with age:

  • Constipation: Some senior dogs have problems with constipation for which they will need high-fiber diets.
  • Joint pain: Joint pain caused by arthritis is an age-related issue for many senior dogs. A dog with joint problems or inflammation may benefit from glucosamine and chondroitin supplements, available in some special veterinary diets.
  • Dental problems: Soft or wet diets are recommended for senior dogs with dental problems.

What Can I Do To Satisfy My Picky Eater

One way to enhance your dogs appetite is to add tasty toppers to her food. Mixing a few tablespoons of a quality canned food to your dogs kibble can help.

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, of course.

Toppers can safely make up about 10-20% of your dogs diet. Youll need to be mindful of added calories and nutrients.

How Much Wet Food To Feed A Dog

There are many different diets available for pups today. It is easy to get confused between marketing gimmicks and quality nutrition. With pictures of fresh wholesome meat and delicious looking fruit and vegetables on the packacging of many products, it is tempting to shop with your eyes.

We now know that many of these pet food labels use marketing tactics to promote food as healthy and use less than the highest quality ingredients. But don’t worry we’ll help you understand what to look for in a wet dog food and how much you should be feeding your best friend to keep them happy and healthy. We did the research and can offer you some of our best tips and tricks.

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What Is Dry Dog Food

Dry dog food contains less than 11% water. The majority of dog food is dry and comes in bags that have a long shelf life. Dry kibble may contain pieces of dried meat, but they don’t have a high water content like canned or pouched food will have. If you walk down the aisle of a pet store, the bags of dog food stacked on the shelves contain dry dog food.

Contains More Protein Than Most Dry Kibble

When Should I Change My Dogs Food?

Wet foods are generally speaking formulated with more protein and less carbohydrate content. They usually come packed with more meat than their dry counterparts. That said, all food is not created equally so it is still critically important to read the ingredient labels carefully before choosing a wet food.

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How To Choose A Dog Food

Choosing an appropriate diet for your dog is a complicated process. The sheer number of dog food options available is overwhelming. Unfortunately, there is no one diet that is best for every dog. Just like humans, dogs are individuals and their dietary needs vary depending on factors such as age, health, and personal preferences.

To make the process even more complicated, there are also a lot of myths about dog food on the internet. Many people fall victim to advertising campaigns or scare tactics warning them away from commercial dog foods. Fortunately, the World Small Animal Veterinary Association has published a guide entitled The Savvy Dog Owners Guide: Nutrition on the Internet to help pet owners decipher fact from fiction when doing their own research about dog food.

Learning how to read a pet food label can also help demystify the process of choosing a dog food. The information on a pet food label is guided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials . AAFCO is responsible for establishing definitions for many of the terms you will find on a bag of dog food. Understanding these labeling requirements can make it easier to identify which products are best for your dog. Look for the words complete and balanced diet on the label.

Seniorcise: Keeping Old Dogs Active

No matter how old your dog is, its crucial to maintain age-appropriate activities, especially in his senior years so he can exercise his body and mind.

Always ask your veterinarian how much physical exercise is safe for your mature canine, based on his body condition and health. Even if they can no longer run and jump, dogs need and love to walk you can always shorten and slow down your daily treks.

Whatever the physical activity, always watch your dog for signs of fatigue or pain and take frequent breaks as needed.

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How Many Calories Should My Senior Dog Consume

One of several feeding quandaries associated with older dogs is do they need more, or fewer, calories? Well, just try squeezing yourself into that prom tux, wedding dress, or honeymoon bikini, and lets hear how that pizza and doughnut diet is working for you. The same is true of our dogs. Its not necessarily that we get lazy as we age. Changes in metabolic rate cause fewer calories to be burned and more to be stored as fat. A recent study showed that mature dogs require 20 percent fewer calories in order to maintain the same weight as younger ones. Dogs entering old age may benefit from eating a food with less fat and fewer calories. Research also suggests that L-carnitine, a vitamin-like compound made from amino acids found in red meats, fish, chicken, and dairy products, may may help the body use fat for energy.

But its not that simple. Chances are most of the really old people you know are thin. The same goes for dogs. As dogs progress from old to very old, they tend to stop gaining weight and instead start losing weight, actually requiring more calories. In those cases, they often have a decreased appetite, possibly related to a decreased sense of smell or taste, and may even have difficulty chewing or swallowing. Increasing the fat content of the diet can increase palatability and calorie content, and may improve protein efficiency.

Do Senior Dogs Have Special Nutritional Needs

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“Seniors and geriatrics generally need lower-calorie diets to help prevent obesity — a huge problem in seniors — and higher-fiber diets to improve gastrointestinal health, Metzger says.

Probably the most important thing for a geriatric dog is that their energy requirement gets lower, Nunez says. With a slower metabolic rate, older dogs are more likely to become overweight or obese.

Many dog food companies now offer senior dog food formulations, which Nunez recommends as an age-appropriate diet for older pets because theyre lower in calories.

If possible, owners should feed their pets foods that are suitable to their stage in life. But some owners have more than one dog and would prefer to buy just one type of food.


In that case, foods labeled multi-stage would be acceptable for puppies, adults, and seniors. You make some compromises when you do the multi-stage diets, Nunez says. So theyre my second choice. But some people just cant separate the foods. The puppy will get into the senior diet, and the senior dog will get into the puppy food.

Metzger tells WebMD that when it comes to snacks, you should serve your senior dog healthy, low-fat, low-sodiumtreats. Although many dog owners think of bones and milk biscuits as snacks, there are alternatives. Vegetables are great, Metzger says. Most dogs like carrots and apple slices. But avoid grapes and raisins because theyre harmful to dogs.

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Listen To Your Veterinarians Recommendations For Special Conditions

If your dog has been diagnosed with a condition known to be influenced by nutrition, or they are at risk for certain diseases based on their health and lifestyle, your vet may suggest a therapeutic or prescription diet. These diets require a prescription from your veterinarian.

While these diets do not usually contain the word senior in their title, they are formulated to manage disease conditions commonly seen in senior dogs. They may have added ingredients or formulation-specific differences not available in over-the-counter varieties.

Life In The Slow Lane

A senior dog has a slower metabolic rate than a pup or young adult. Simply put, this means that the dogs body expends less energy when its resting.

Couple this with decreased physical activity, and youve got a recipe for obesity.

Obesity is a very serious problem, and can lead to many serious conditions including heart disease and osteoarthritis. An overweight dog will also have increased strain on its joints, and digestive and respiratory organs.

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Converting From Caloriesto Serving Size

Once youve entered your dogs ideal weight and activity level, youll know the number of calories per day.

However, to convert calories into something you can use, youll need to enter the number of calories in your dogs food.

The number of calories in a given amount of dog food is known as its metabolizable energy . Its usually reported somewhere on a dog food package like this

  • Calories per cup
  • Calories per kilogram

By the way, the calculator assumes youre feeding your dog just once a day.

If you prefer to feed your dog twice a day, be sure to divide your result in half so that both meals add up to the full daily calories suggested.

Whats The #1 Cause Of Food

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Although it contributes to health issues in dogs of all ages

Obesity is the #1 cause of chronic disease and premature death in seniors.

Extra weight means your dogs joints have to work harder and they may already be inflamed from arthritis, hip dysplasia or a luxated knee cap.

Unfortunately, dogs are naturally more prone to obesity as they age. According to the National Research Council of the National Academy of Science3

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.

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Differences Between Senior Dog Food Vs Regular

Is there a difference between senior dog food, regular adult dog food, and food labeled “all life stages” or “multi-stage”? Not necessarily. In fact, some food products might be identical and only market differently that is, only the packaging changes. According to our experts, there’s no regulation of dog foods claiming to cater to seniors, which is why there’s so much confusion on the topic.

There certainly are, however, some dietary factors that can help manage the physical and medical changes dogs experience as they age. Here are some of the ways a senior dog diet might differ from a regular adult dog diet:

  • Nutrient adjustments
  • Added MCTs, omega-3s, and antioxidants

The Pros And Cons Of Mixing Wet And Dry Dog Food

Dog food options abound when you walk into a pet store and while there are fresh, frozen, and even freeze-dried options, the most common types of food you will find are either dry kibbles or canned, wet dog foods.

Some dog owners will mix both kinds of food for various reasons. It is helpful to know the benefits of both kinds of food individually as well as whether mixing them negates these benefits so that you can provide the best diet for your dog.

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Should Senior Dogs Take Supplements

Many older dogs struggle with arthritis and joint pain. To address this problem, many senior dog foods contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulphate, which Nunez says may help the joints.

Metzger also says that owners who decide to give their dogs glucosamine and chondroitin supplements should use veterinary formulations, not human ones.

Although such supplements may be useful, dogs with joint problems and arthritis benefit more from slimming down, Nunez says. People think glucosamine is the best thing, but the very best thing is weight management.

How Much Protein Should My Senior Dog Eat

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Increasing protein will help maintain muscle. But isnt protein bad for old dogs because it overtaxes the kidneys? No that myth began with rodent research from the 1940s. Dogs evolved to eat more meat and protein than rats, and subsequent studies have debunked the idea that protein is bad for old dogs and confirmed that protein does not adversely affect the kidneys. In fact, theres evidence these days that suggests old dogs need more protein. A study comparing protein requirements in 2-year-old Beagles versus 13-year-old Beagles found that the senior dogs needed at least 50 percent more dietary protein.

Protein is important for older dogs. Even with exercise, older dogs tend to lose muscle mass, which means losses in protein reserves. Losses in muscle tissue and protein reserves may impair the immune system and decrease the bodys ability to respond to physical trauma, infectious agents, or stress. Loss of protein reserves also means the body may not have enough amino acids for tissue repair and energy metabolism. Senior diets should have increased protein-to-calorie ratio, providing a minimum of 25 percent of calories from protein.

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How Long Will It Last

Generally speaking, the diarrhea from switching foods should not last longer than 3 or 4 days at the very most. In some cases it may take up a full week for some dogs to adjust to the new food, but that is really pushing it. For the most part, dogs will adjust to their new food in 2 or 3 days.

If you are switching foods because your dog was always sick on the old food, and it still does not change with new food, you should take your dog to the vet to get examined.

In any case, if the diarrhea lasts for more than a week in any case, go see a vet, as your dog may have a food sensitivity, the new dog food may not be ideal, or your dog may have some other illness which is causing the upset stomach.

What Else Do I Need To Consider When Determining How Much Wet Food My Dog Needs

  • What size and breed is my dog?
  • The larger the dog, the more food they will need to eat each day. Some dog breeds also may require more food than others due to faster metabolism or energy level. Wet food is often more expensive than dry food, so cost may be a barrier to feeding exclusively wet food if you have a larger dog.

  • How old is my dog?
  • Younger dogs need more food than seniors. As dogs age, their metabolism slows down. You may want to re-evaluate your dogs caloric needs as they get older.

  • Is my dog over or under weight?
  • If your pup is not at its ideal weight youll want to work with your vet on a diet plan specific to your pup. If your dog needs to gain weight, you will want to work with your vet to help them pack on the pounds the right way. If your pup needs to lose a few pounds, your vet can help with a diet and exercise plan to get your pup back on the right track. You may also want to talk to your vet about your pup’s dietary needs in different seasons. Your pup may need some extra calories in the winter to help them stay warm and keep up their energy.

  • How active is my dog?
  • If your dog runs, hikes or competes in sporting events like agility, flyball, or dock diving they may need more calories, especially when theyre competing. Talk to your vet or a knowledgable nutritionist to make sure your dog is in optimal shape to compete and win.

  • How many times per day does my dog eat?
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    What Should An Owner Do When A Senior Dog Wont Eat

    Its common for older dogs to have reduced appetite, Nunez says. Causes vary. For example, some dogs have gastrointestinal problems that bring on nausea, while others lose their appetite because of cancer.

    When a dog wont eat, Metzger says, make sure your veterinarian rules out any underlying health problems, such as dental disease, diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer. He also says that when dogs lose interest in dry food, adding warm water, chicken broth, or a small amount of canned food can make it more appealing.

    Home-cooked meals can be enticing, too. That extra smell and that extra TLC can get the dog to eat, Nunez says. Some owners feed their dogs combinations of foods, such as cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice.

    Pet stores also sell bottles of flavor enhancers that owners can add to food. Also, as a last resort, there are medications — appetite stimulants — that can help dogs eat,” Nunez says.

    But these treatments should be used only after veterinarians have ruled out serious diseases, Metzger says.

    Fred Metzger, DVM, Diplomate ABVP, owner, Metzger Animal Hospital, StateCollege, Pa., and adjunct professor, Penn State University.


    Benefits Of Wet Dog Food

    Should I Buy Wet or Dry Dog Food for My Dog?

    Wet dog food is oftentimes more enticing or attractive to a dog when compared to dry food due to the scent and texture. It comes in many different flavors and sizes of meat chunks.

    Dogs with no teeth, painful mouths, syringe feeding requirements, or those that are weaning off of milk will prefer wet dog food.

    It doesn’t usually require much chewing to be swallowed, making it great for dogs that are weak or lethargic, and it is more likely to be eaten by a picky eater. Some can even appear to look more like human food, making some owners feel more comfortable feeding their dogs.

    Wet dog food is also great for dogs that have a hard time smelling due to an upper respiratory disease. It can be warmed up to make it more fragrant, thus further enticing a hungry dog.

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