Feeding Your Senior Pet – Meeting The Nutritional Needs Of Your Aging Dog
Is the beloved pet up in years? It may make sense to start considering a diet specifically formulated for older dogs.
That said, not all dogs will need a senior diet. If your dog is still quite active, than you should continue to feed them as you are. In many cases the only thing you need to consider doing is decreasing the amount of food that you are giving them to accommodate a more sedentary lifestyle.
Not All Senior Formulas Are The Same
The Association Of American Feed Control Officials do not actually have separate guidelines for senior dogs. In their opinion, all adult dogs should be fed based on activity levels.
This makes shopping for a high-quality senior dog food a little more challenging as there is not a standardized system to compare them by. An analysis of dog food by Tufts University showed that most “older dog formulas” have decreased levels of of protein and calories, and increased levels of fiber.
However, the amounts varied widely from one food to another.
Furthermore, a decreased protein diet is not always best. Older dogs need more protein as they age to maintain muscle mass and healthy organ function.
So, when you are shopping for an ideal dog food for your older pet, you actually need to steer clear of the foods marketed for older dogs and find a formula that works well for your dog.
Maintain an Ideal Body Mass
A lot of people assume that older dogs are overweight. This may or may not be the case. If your dog is, slowly decrease the amount of their food by about 10% and keep them active. You need to not starve your pet, but give them time and let an active lifestyle help correct the weight problem.
Too often, people switch their older dogs to low-calorie, low-protein formulas when their pet doesn’t need it. Bottom line is, don’t let current thinking cause you to inadvertently starve your pet.
Also, older dogs may have a harder time chewing, or may not want to eat as much due to loss of smell (and decrease in appetite). Finding a food that is appetizing and soft may be key to keeping your older friend eating as much as they should.
3 Ideal Foods For Your Older Dog
I chose these foods based on their high protein content and the quality of the protein used. These brands have the most balanced, most nutritious and more natural diets of any brand on the market.
I hope these suggestions help keep your pet in tip-top shape.
Pick #1 Blue Buffalo Life Protection Formula Dog Food
You guys are probably tired of me going on and on about how wonderful Blue Buffalo is. But, in my opinion, Blue Buffalo is one of the top-notch brands that is just about the best alternative to going raw.
Sure, there are a few better brands out there, but after awhile I feel like the cost-benefit ratio starts to die off, and that you might be better off hiring a chef come by once a day to fix your dog a bite.
So without being ridiculously expensive, Blue Buffalo manages to deliver solid protein from chicken (no meat by-products) and avoids soy and wheat which are known allergens for many dogs.
On top of that, they pack it full of vitamins and other goodies to keep your dog in tip-top shape.
I think, however, the best proof is in your dog. Smaller poop piles, more energy — this i what you want to see out of your dog food and, in my experience, Blue Buffalo delivers just that.
Pick # 2 Wellness Core Reduce Fat Formula
Wellness is another top brand, and one that many vets have started to recognize and recommend — a refreshing point in the sea of marketing hogwash that normally prevails.
This formula is 100% grain free to help you avoid any allergic reactions or digestive difficulties. However, it contains 54% more protein than there other popular formula — and more protein than many other brands on the market.
The trick with high protein foods is to find one that has “low ash” or low levels of calcium and phosphorus. It’s easy to throw extra meat in the formula, but difficult to control these two mineral levels when you do so.
Wellness core takes that into account and makes sure that even with the added protein, your dog does not suffer from too much calcium or phosphorus which can interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc if not kept in check.
Probably the best part with the Wellness formula is all of the raving reviews it gets in private forums. Owners of older dogs are having great results with this formula and that is what helps secure it a spot on our top-3 list.
Pick # 3 Wellness Canned Dog Food For Senior Dogs
If your dog is having a hard time chewing their food, I would recommend looking at the Wellness Canned Food series.
For some dogs, all you need to do is mix in some canned food into their regular dry kibble. Others will need to be on only canned food. The key thing is to watch their energy levels and make sure that they are getting plenty of food.
I normally shy away from reviewing canned foods because the fillers and water content that are used tends to be higher in canned foods. However, with Wellness, they don’t cut corners, so you are getting real protein and real veggies. Every bite is packed with optimal protein and vitamins, so even if your dog doesn’t eat much, they are getting the most nutrition per bite that they possibly can.