As a general rule, a so-called senior or old dog characterizes one that is entering the last third of its life expectancy. While all breeds have their own longevity, it is when your dog becomes less active that the transition to senior feeding should begin.
During this time, nutritional needs change and your pet needs fewer calories and fat versus more protein. Depending on the characteristics of the breed, it is often at the age of 5 years for large dogs and 7 years for small dogs that the food transition must begin.
The diet of an elderly dog is therefore very different from that of an adult dog. To cope with the decrease in metabolism, dehydration problems, the increase in fat mass, you must therefore adapt Its diet.
For this, you will need to increase the number of daily meals and give it 2 per day. Be careful not to give twice as much to eat, but to divide the daily ration into 2 meals. If you change Its food, the same principle as a change in conventional food. You will need to make the transition gradually by mixing the new formula into the old one while increasing the doses of the senior formula over a period of one week to 10 days until it becomes Its only diet.
What does an elderly dog’s diet consist of?
To provide a suitable diet for senior dogs, you can use smaller kibble or other foods that are easy to swallow. So-called senior foods consist of:
- little fat (10 to 20%)
- high-quality protein (concentrated feed with 18 to 20% protein)
- essential minerals: iron, calcium, and zinc – and little sodium and potassium (to not strain the heart and kidneys)
- vitamins B and E to support the dog’s body (antioxidants) and help withstand external aggressions.
Processed foods are calibrated to meet the specific needs of senior dogs. In the case of a household diet, it will be necessary to make sure to cover the needs and probably to use food supplements to balance the ration.
How to feed your elderly dog with a “special senior” diet?
The processed foods for an older dog will be your best ally. They take into account all the physiological changes your dog is facing and contain all the essential elements that your dog (now old) needs from now on.
To feed It, you must feed It food at room temperature that has been stored in a dry, clean, and airtight place. In this state, the food preserves its taste and smell as much as possible. Remember that a senior dog has less effective senses of taste and smell. The food served in a box can be heated moments in the microwave or from the fridge before being distributed (only prepare the amount to be given and keep the remaining cold to prevent bacteria growth). In short, avoid serving It a meal that is too hot or too cold.
Finally, Let it eat in a quiet place, where it will not be disturbed by children, for example, or surprised while it is feeding. For older dogs, with difficulty bending over, consider placing the bowl a little higher.
How much to give It?
Follow the indications displayed on the packaging of industrial foods. They give you a trend on how much to feed based on age and breed. However, every dog is different. You have to feed It enough, but not too much either. The goal is to keep It in good health.
Indeed, older dogs can quickly show weight problems since they store more fat. And overweight means health problems and there are many such as diabetes, heart and respiratory problems or joint problems.
If your dog has such a problem, there are “senior light” foods available with a special formula that is low in fat and does not eliminate all of the other nutrients that older dogs need.
To conclude, make sure that It has a full water bowl at all times. Older dogs have less water content in the body than younger dogs. The risks of dehydration are therefore more present.