Feeding an elderly dog
“Elderly dogs, like people, require special care as they age. Age brings complications in the teeth, favors the appearance of some diseases and the animal has less physical activity. For this reason, the dog’s diet must be adapted to the age of its birthday. Taking care of the diet in this special stage helps the animal to have a better quality of life.
Not all dogs grow old at the same age. In the world of dogs, getting old doesn’t just depend on having a birthday. It also influences the size of the animal.
Small dogs are longer-lived than large breeds. While a large dog, over 25 kilos, is considered senior at five years, a small dog, up to ten kilos, is not old until he is seven. For a medium-sized dog, weighing between ten and 25 kilos, the third age reaches seven years.
Obesity and age
When a dog passes adulthood to enter his senior dog phase, he often reduces his physical activity. Exercise less, and losing weight becomes more difficult. This explains why obesity is a common problem in an aging dog.
Being overweight can lead to health problems. Keeping a senior dog within its ideal weight (the vet can help you know it) is key for the animal to maintain its health and quality of life; and with them, longevity.
With age, other problems appear such as arthritis, loss of sensory abilities (hearing, sight) and teeth become more vulnerable to infection. Other changes have to do with behavior: sleep problems are accentuated over the years, he is more irritable and also less tolerant of children. These changes typical of an elderly animal force the owner to introduce small changes in the dog’s diet that improve its quality of life.
Diet of an aging dog
Although an animal has a birthday, and the alterations it experiences are numerous (as we have just seen), there are things that do not change. A dog entering its third age requires the same basic foods as the young animal: proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. The dog needs fat to maintain its body temperature, and for its hair and skin to remain healthy.
The elderly dog requires, like the young, proteins to transform the food they eat into substances useful for their body. While carbohydrates are a powerful source of energy. The aging animal needs vitamins and minerals: it uses them to make these proteins, hydrates and fats. What then is it that varies in the diet of an old and a young animal? The amount of these nutrients.
Less energy intake
The body of an elderly dog works at a slower rate than that of a young dog. It loses regenerative capacity and some organic functions slow down. At this stage, heart abnormalities are also more common. And the diet of the elderly dog should be directed to counteract these risks.
An aging dog needs less energy intake since physical activity is reduced. To avoid being overweight, veterinarians recommend reducing the number of calories you eat by about 20%. Manufacturers know this and feed and cans for senior dogs usually take these recommendations into account, since they offer a specific low-calorie food for this age, but which satisfies them.
To counteract the loss of muscle mass suffered by the elderly dog, foods rich in protein are recommended. Fiber is also a nutritional supplement that must be increased in the animal’s diet.
Vitamin C against aging
Together with the dog, the cells of his body also have a birthday. And as in man, the elderly dog suffers memory loss. To delay brain wear it is advisable to increase the amount of vitamin C you consume, as it acts as an antioxidant. Some lipids (phosphatidylserine) help keep neurons active.
Alterations in behavior is another characteristic feature of dog aging.
The elderly animal is more irascible, tolerates children worse and some sleep disturbances appear. The senior dog’s diet must take into account these changes. Certain substances (tryptophan) help control the dog’s mood and increase his sensation of pleasure, so he will be calmer. They also make the elderly dog sleep better.”