Image courtesy: Pixabay.com/
Dogs are usually considered to be old when they are halfway through their expected lifespan. The lifespan of dogs varies depending on the breed. Smaller dogs age relatively slowly when compared to larger dogs. Small dogs can live anywhere between 15 and 20 years, while large dogs live for anywhere between 12 and 15 years. Let’s take a look at how you can modify your dog’s diet to match its needs once it starts aging.
What should their diet include?
As dogs age, their metabolism rate also slows down. They may easily gain weight and grow obese as a result of this. Then again, your dog’s physical activity may greatly reduce because of joint pain and other ailments. This could further worsen conditions like obesity. It helps to include low-calorie food in your dog’s diet. Along with low-calorie food, it’s also important to include more fiber in the diet. You can look for senior dog-specific diets that meet the nutritional requirements.
Senior dogs also tend to have a lower appetite than they did in their younger days. If your senior dog is not eating, you have to consult a vet to see if it is due to loss of appetite or some underlying health issue. If it is the former, you can try using flavor enhancers to improve its taste, or appetite stimulants, if needed. Make sure that your senior dog gets adequate amount of water, as its ability to retain water balance reduces as it grows older.
Health conditions and supplements
If your senior dog is suffering from health conditions, then you want to consult a vet to decide on an appropriate diet. For instance, diabetes happens to be a common medical condition in older dogs, and you will require a special diet where the food is absorbed slowly in case your dog has diabetes, so that the blood sugar levels do not instantly shoot up. Similarly, a dog with heart condition will require a diet that has low sodium and calories.
Supplements may be a good addition to your dog’s diet, and you should consult the same with your vet before you take a call. Many dog owners supplement their pet’s diet with vitamins as they age. Others use supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine to treat joint problems. While supplements do help, it’s also important to support it with the right lifestyle habits. For instance, if your senior dog has arthritis, it helps to keep its weight in check, instead of just supplementing its diet with glucosamine. While we’re on the subject of supplements, it is important to note that you should use veterinary supplement formulations and not what is prescribed to humans.