Older Dogs Diet requirements:

There is no hard and fast rule when a dog becomes a senior, but you will know it when you get there.  She or he will get up slower, sleep deeper, tire more easily, and enjoy sitting with you more than running with you.

As your dog ages, it is important to adjust your routines to suit the new stage of life the dog has entered; thus, do not insist that she or he continue to run alongside you on your daily marathon runs in the morning.  If your dog still enjoys this, let her or him, if you can tell that she or he is running out of steam sooner than usual, it is time to rest or maybe go back.

Another thing to consider with an aging dog is diet.  Obviously, no matter what the age of your canine companion is, nutrition is important and will ensure a long and healthy life, yet dietary needs change as a dog matures.  Just like you would not feed puppy food to a mature four or five year old dog, so you also would not feed regular dog food to a nine or ten year old canine senior.

Here are some dietary needs to keep in mind when feeding your senior dog:

An aging dog will require extra moisture to keep her or his skin supple and the fur shiny and healthy. Because of the aging process, these dogs become more susceptible to mite infections and also get bothered a lot more by fleabites.  In addition to the foregoing, the dry air, environmental pollutants, and other irritants now tend to affect her or him a lot more.  You may wish to supplement your dog’s diet with some sunflower or flax seed oils to keep skin and coat healthy and shiny.

As your dog ages, so will its digestive system.  An antibiotics treatment, such as is often needed when dealing with open wounds, may leave it in a bit of turmoil since the antibiotics also take out the beneficial bacteria in the stomach. Yogurt supplements in small doses will curtail this condition.

Considering that your dog’s metabolism is slowing down, you may have to decrease the amounts of treats you feed.  It is important to not let your aging dog become obese, since this will bring a whole host of health problems in its wake.

This may also be a good time to discuss a vitamin supplement with your dog’s veterinarian.

If your dog suffers from arthritis, it may be advisable to look for a dog food that is low in sodium as salt aggravates that condition.

If your dog appears to gain too much weight, you may wish to switch her or his food to one that is lower in fat.  Do not look for one that is lower in protein, as this may cause muscle loss and not the fat loss you are hoping for.  Similarly, do not fall for the ads that want you to purchase high fiber foods since a dog’s digestive tract is not set up for a large fiber intake.

Do not assume that an increase in age warrants a decrease in calcium and phosphorus.  It has been thought that these substances contribute to kidney disease in aging dogs, but instead it appears that decreasing these levels will not keep bones and joints as healthy.  Do not feed a diet reduced in these substances unless specifically advised by your veterinarian to do so.

As your dog ages, keep an eye on his dental health.  If he suddenly stops eating and medical reasons have been ruled out, then it is quite possible that the hard kibbles are hurting his palate and gums, and you may wish to moisten them to make them easier to eat.

It is evident that a dog’s nutritional needs are changing with age.  Yet it is not always easy to predict into which direction your dog’s needs go, and therefore it is imperative that you keep a close eye on that mature canine senior in your household to make sure he gets everything he needs to remain healthy and active.

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