Why should I feed my senior dog a special diet?

 

Throughout a dog's life, they will require different food depending on breed, age and size. From the beginning of puppyhood through to adult and senior, your dog has different nutritional requirements for growth, health and wellbeing.
 

Why do senior dogs need different food?

As your dog ages, they can potentially be at risk to certain health conditions. Sometimes, through careful changes to your senior dogs diet, these challenges can be alleviated or sometimes negated altogether through feeding of the correct diet. The two main reasons are to prevent or manage disease and Increase longevity.

 

How do I know when my dog is classed as a senior?

This is subjective to the breed and size of the dog. As a quick rule of thumb, we can consider dogs ‘senior’ at the following ages:

🐾 5-8 years of age for very large / giant dogs

🐾 7-10 years of age for medium-sized dogs

🐾 9-12 years of age for small dogs

As these guidelines vary considerably between individuals, it is worth asking your vet their opinion on whether your dog is a senior or not.

 

What makes senior dog food different?

Lower levels of fat

As your dog gets older, it's very important to keep their weight within a healthy range to avoid any stress on their joints or cardiovascular system from the additional weight. Their metabolism also begins to slow down with age, meaning their body burns fewer calories and needs less food to function. It’s also common for older dogs to become less energetic, therefore they burn less calories through exercise.

 

Higher levels of protein

It’s important to maintain your dog’s muscle mass as they get older. Your dog will require more protein as their body may become less effective at synthesising protein with age, along with higher quality protein sources as these will be easier to digest for the absorption of key nutrients. 

It’s important to take into consideration that although higher levels of protein are important, these must be controlled through a complete senior dog food as too much protein can put pressure on the kidneys. 

An appropriate diet can also help to influence or manage, in part of entirely through nutrition certain diseases which are known to affect ageing dogs, such as:

  • Dental disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Obesity 
  • Arthritis 
  • Neurological diseases
  • Skin diseases
  • Certain cancers

In some cases, nutritional changes can affect the outcome or slow the progression of certain diseases.

 

Always remember to slowly transition your dog from their previous food to their new senior food and if you’re ever unsure or have any questions, we recommend speaking with your Vet who can provide an appropriate recommendation tailored for your dog. Why not try Barking Heads Golden Years? Specially formulated for wise, senior dogs and recommended by Vet, Dr Scott Miller!

 

Veterinary Nurse, Sharna Beveridge & Barking Heads

Is my dog overweight? Read our blog for advice on weight loss and management for your pet by our Vet Dr Scott Miller and Barking Heads!