Consider A Lower Calorie Dog Food
If youve ever dieted, you know how it worksa big leafy salad will keep you feeling full longer than that small side of fries. When the pounds creep up, switch your pup to a weight-loss formula thats bulked up with healthy, low-calorie fiber. That way, theyre still receiving nearly the same amount of kibble, but its not as calorie-dense, says Frankfurt. Pet foods that are marketed for senior dogs often have a reduced caloric density as well as higher levels of antioxidants, omega-3s, and other ingredients that can help pets as they age. As always, consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your canine companions diet.
How To Buy The Best Senior Dog Food According To Veterinarians
Select is editorially independent. Our editors selected these deals and items because we think you will enjoy them at these prices. If you purchase something through our links, we may earn a commission. Pricing and availability are accurate as of publish time.
As your dog gets older, finding the right senior dog food is an important part of keeping your stay-at-home buddy happy. Weve previously covered the best dog food to consider, as well the best dry dog foods and even dog treats but how do you decide whats best for an older dog?
Pets age at different rates than humans age, says KT Boyle, DVM, of the Banfield Pet Hospital, noting that large breed dogs like Great Danes can be considered senior at six years old but smaller breeds like miniature poodles may not become seniors until they turn 10 years old. While age is a factor, Boyle suggests keeping an eye on your dogs energy level, whether or not they have white hair on their face and whether you notice a blue haziness or cloudiness, known as nuclear sclerosis, in their eyes. Talk to your vet if you notice your dog slowing down or exhibiting physical changes to determine if a change in diet could help. To that end, we consulted animal experts on how to shop for senior dog food and compiled some of the best senior dog foods available now.
What About Wet Food Versus Dry Food
While some dogs with dental issues may find wet food easier to eat, dry food is more convenient and doesnt spoil easily. A call to the vet will help line up your dogs needs with the right food and Boyle recommends letting your dog try both wet and dry options. Switching from dry to wet food or vice versa can be more difficult if they are picky eaters, Boyle says. So it can be a good idea to expose pets to both types of food during their lifetime.
Recommended Reading: Is Natural Balance Dog Food Made In China
Best For Constipation: Royal Canin Small Digestive Care Dry Dog Food
If your pup has a hard time going on your walks, dry food thats high in dietary fiber is your best bet to help them get things moving again. This food from Royal Canin is made with easily digestible proteins, primarily from chickens, and has added prebiotics to help the good bacteria in your pups digestive tract flourish. The kibble is also smaller in sizethis variety is intended for pups up to 22 poundsso it’s a good choice for larger dogs, too, because its easy for them to chew and digest. Those who tried it say that even their picky pups gobble down a bowl of this food.
Our best overall pick is Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dog Food , which is formulated with protein- and fiber-rich chicken to keep your dog fuller for longer. If you’re on a budget, we recommend the Diamond Naturals Dry Senior Dog Food Formula .
How Do I Determine My Dogs Ideal Weight
Keeping your senior at ideal weight can help you significantly extend your pets life.
A 14-year landmark study found that
Dogs fed to ideal body condition lived 1.8 years longer than their overweight litter mates.
Thats nearly 2 extra years of life
Just for keeping your dog close to her ideal weight based on her Body Condition Score. This process is explained in the following short video.
Remember, every dog is different. If youre feeding the recommended amount, but your dog is not losing weight , you may need to make some adjustments.
Talk to your vet if youre unsure of your dogs ideal weight and body condition.
Also Check: Where Can I Buy Royal Canin Urinary So Dog Food
Calories In Vs Calories Out
Its a term we are all familiar with – calories in must equal calories out. While its not exactly an all-encompassing term, it does make the point that we should be cautious of feeding our pets more calories than they are capable of using.
As our pets age, its common for them to slow down. Weight and activity levels should be monitored to help you identify the need for a change in diet, feeding guidelines, or routine.
While not every senior dog will slow down the same way, you should be prepared for subtle changes, and be able to respond accordingly.
How Much Protein Should My Senior Dog Eat
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.
Don’t Miss: Where To Buy Pedigree Dog Food
Older Dogs May Need More Protein
Maintaining muscle mass is vital for your dog’s health as he gets older. It’s important to provide your dog with enough protein, as his body may become less effective at synthesising protein with age.
This is why senior dog foods often contain higher quality protein sources. Meat and fish tend to be the easiest sources to digest, although some newer foods use insect protein. Cheaper protein sources, such as potato and soya, may be more difficult to digest.
There needs to be a balance when increasing protein though. Too much protein can put pressure on the kidneys – especially if your dog has kidney problems.
Added Mcts Dha And Antioxidants In Dog Food
Dogs, like humans, may show changes in memory and the ability to learn as they age. Several studies suggest that the following substances and nutrients may help to reduce some of the effects of these changes and are therefore added to some foods marketed to senior dogs:
- Medium-chain triglycerides or MCTs, a type of fat. Look for coconut oil or palm oil as sources on food labels, or you can add MCTs to your dog’s food as a supplement.
- Antioxidants like those found in some veggies, such as carotenoids and other phytonutrients. While some pet parents malign fruits and veggies, they contain some of the most interesting and unique compounds that can influence a pet’s health. One benefit of a minimally preserved fresh diet over a kibble or canned diet is that it can offer antioxidants that have not degraded due to processing and storing.
- DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid that appears in high concentrations in fish and algae oil, or as with MCTs, you can add DHA as a supplement to your dog’s diet. A reasonable starting amount is 0.5 grams DHA per 1,000 calories.
Recommended Reading: Iams Prostora Max Gi
Senior Dog Food Vs Regular Dog Food
Is there more to senior dog food than the name on the packaging? When comparing an adult or all-life-stage diet to one labeled as senior dog food, you may not see a noticeable difference.
In this example, there are only three ingredients in the senior formula that arent in the adult version: pea fibre, flaxseed, and glucosamine hydrochloride. The addition of these ingredients helps to improve digestibility, reduce inflammation, and support joint function.
These ingredients help to fortify this food to suit many pets showing some age-related symptoms, but dont assume that all senior dog foods are the right food for your dog. Commercial pet foods are incredibly generalized and may not accommodate all of your dogs needs.
When Does A Dog Need To Switch To Senior Dog Food
Dog life-stage classifications can help you know when your dog is considered a senior. Depending on their breed and size, most dogs are considered to be mature adults between 6 and 8 years old. In most cases, a dog older than 8 years will move into the senior category.
While these age classifications can be helpful in guiding food choices, its important to remember that animals are individuals. Just because they reach a certain age does not mean they are necessarily old on a physiologic scale.
The aging process differs for each dog, and just like with people, it may look, feel, and affect them all differently. If your senior dog is healthy and maintaining a good weight, a new dog food may not be needed.
Your veterinarian is your best ally in determining when your dog is ready to transition to a senior diet.
Read Also: Rachael Ray Dog Food Petsmart
How Much Should A Senior Dog Eat
The best way to ensure your senior dog is eating the right portions of food is by figuring out how much it should eat. The amount of food an old dog needs depends on its breed, age, weight, and existing health issues. One thing all old dogs have in common is that they require a lower calorie intake.
Because of their slower metabolisms, senior dogs are more prone to becoming overweight if a dog owner is accidentally overfeeding them. Here are some steps to help you determine how much an old dog should eat.
An old dog will not eat brand new food right away, so it might be best to slowly introduce your dog to a new food to see how it reacts to it. If possible, purchase the smallest quantity of new dog food to see if your dog likes it first. If your old dog enjoys the new food, you can purchase the same brand but in larger quantities.
Address Any Dental Issues
If you notice your senior dog is having a hard time eating his kibble, you may be wondering what to feed an old dog that won’t eat. But, it may not be his diet at all. Dental disease and tooth pain may very well be to blame for your senior dog’s lack of appetite. While switching to a softer food may seem to help, its crucial to actually address the root of the problem. Proper dental care can greatly enhance an older dogs life, says Dr. Heather Frankfurt, a Texas-based veterinarian who sees many senior dogs with advanced dental disease. Imagine having a tooth ache, or many, for several years!
If your dog has stopped eating, however, its very unlikely that dental disease is solely to blameFrankfurt notes that most pets will figure out a way to eat through tooth pain. As with all changes to eating patterns, a visit to your veterinarian is in order.
You May Like: Where To Buy Darwin’s Dog Food
Taking Your Dog To The Veterinarian Because They Arent Eating
If youre sure nothing in your environment can be the cause of your dogs lack of interest in food, your next step must be to call the vet and make an appointment as soon as possible to rule out any of the medical causes listed above.
If its been more than a day since your dog last ate, I would give the person answering the phone those details, and see if they can find you an appointment that day or the next.
Were so worried about our dog the vet appointment can be nerve wracking, so I encourage you to make a list of your concerns in advance and bring it with you.
It not only ensures you dont forget to mention something, your appointment will be more productive and it will help your vet with a diagnosis.
When Is A Dog Considered A Senior
While there is no medically agreed-upon definition of what is considered a senior dog, large breed dogs have a shorter life expectancy and are considered senior at around 5 or 6 human years old. Smaller breeds live longer and are in their advanced years when they are around age 8 or 9 human years old.
Recommended Reading: What Stores Carry Rachael Ray Dog Food
Feeding Your Senior Dog
Every dog has different nutritional needs, and senior dogs are no exception. Once your beloved pup reaches his golden years, it can be even tougher to understand his shifting dietary requirements. This can often leave pet parents with a lot of questions: Is “senior dog food” necessary? What is the best senior dog food on the market? What do you do if your senior dog refuses to eat? While you’re here, check out our success story on how our fresh dog food helped to improve Bailey, a 13-year-old lab mix’s life.
Check out the answers from our pet nutrition experts to some of the most common questions we receive about senior dogs below.
Consider Trying A Food Thats Specialized For Your Dogs Size Or Breed
There are usually small and large breed varieties of senior dog food, depending on the brand.
If you have a small dog, looking for a small breed senior food is a good idea . These diets are usually formulated with size-specific needs in mind. This could include a certain kibble shape, size, and texture, or added ingredients for diseases that are more likely to affect dogs of different sizes or breeds.
Read Also: Does Dog Food Taste Good To Dogs
Nutrient Adjustments Are Needed For Senior Dogs
While some dogs may not need a change in the nutrient composition of their diet as they age, there are nutritional adjustments that may specifically benefit senior dogs, depending on a number of factors . Here are some of the most common:
Lower-calorie foods are often the way to go, because senior dogs tend to be less active than their younger counterparts. In fact, dogs’ activity levels tend to drop by as much as one-third to one-half as they age that means they do not need to take in as many calories. Portion control is key! That said, for those senior dogs who are losing muscle mass, a vet might recommend a diet higher in protein and calories.Finally, always consult your vet, who can help you determine what is right for your dog and make adjustments accordingly.
Check out this study for more reading on senior dog nutrition. Remember, there is currently no senior, geriatric, or mature dog food nutrient profile recognized by the Association of American Feed Control Officials . That means there is no guarantee that senior food will contain a certain amount of protein, fiber, or any of the nutrients mentioned here.
What To Look For When Planning Your Senior Dogs Diet
As your dog ages, so do his nutritional requirements. Yet theres no official Association of American Feed Control Officials statement for senior dog food. As more and more companies are making specially formulated senior dog food, it can become confusing to navigate.
When choosing a diet for your senior dog, these are the top nutrients to look for:
RELATED: 5 supplements all senior dogs need
Also Check: Is Iams Dog Food Any Good