It may be unexpected to some, but one of the healthiest choices for senior dogs is actually diet dog food. The primary cause of this is that food for weight loss or management of weight for dogs is food with low-fat content.
It is essential for aging dogs to eat food with reduced fat content due to the fact that their metabolic rate tends to slow down as they grow older. Combine that with reduced physical activity, and it’s more likely that elderly people will gain weight. Carrying excess weight is bad for dogs, but it’s even worse for older dogs as they tend to have a more difficult time slimming down.
A major explanation for why elderly canines should eat low-fat foods is because these recipes usually possess glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, which are supplements that aid in preserving joint well-being. As your canine friend grows older, their joints are likely to become weaker, which can put them at risk of ailments such as osteoarthritis or respiratory difficulties. If your older canine friend is both heavy and has weakened joints as a result of aging, they are burdening themselves even more by having to bear the brunt of the extra weight on limbs already weakened by age. The reason why the ideal food for senior dogs trying to lose weight is to not only opt for something low on fat but also make sure it contains glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to help keep the joints healthy.
It is essential to provide elderly canines with food that is easy to process in their bodies, especially if the animals have become more sensitive to certain ingredients or have experienced illnesses that may hinder digestion.
Senior Dog Nutritional Needs
When considering the nutritional needs of an elderly dog, there are certain criteria to consider. You should search for a canine diet that is low in fat, high in fiber, and offers minimal amounts of sodium.
Having a diet comprised of low-fat and low-calorie dog food is of primary importance, as aforementioned, due to the fact that obesity in older dogs is exceptionally widespread. It is essential to provide your senior dog with a diet low in fat in order to prevent them from becoming overweight, as this can lead to increased pressure on their body due to their advancing age. If your older dog is an ideal weight, give them low-fat dog food to keep them at that weight in order to stop other medical problems associated with being overweight.
A high-fiber diet is also important for senior dogs. Dog food high in fiber enables the food to be digested at a slower pace and helps to keep your dog feeling full for a longer period of time. Making sure your pooch stays satiated for an extended period of time is beneficial if you are giving them less food to assist in their losing weight. Further, dog food high in fiber will help keep a pup’s blood sugar balanced throughout the day, which is essential if they have been diagnosed with diabetes as they grow older.
It may not be what you assume, but senior dogs need a particular amount of protein. High-protein diets are actually recommended for senior dogs. The AKC states that senior dogs that are in good health require more protein rather than less in order to stay strong. Diminishing muscle mass is a major concern in elderly canines. Some elderly individuals lose so much muscle they are no longer able to walk on their own.
Finally, you should also look for low-sodium dog food. As canine companions get older, they are more prone to developing heart disease; salt intake may help to worsen this ailment.
How Many Calories Should a Senior Dog Eat?
Many times, pet owners rush to use Google to ascertain the number of calories their dog should consume, though this is something Google does not have the capability to answer accurately. Your pup’s food intake needs to be considered based on multiple components such as weight, age, breed, size, surroundings, physical activity, and more. If your objective is to aid your aging dog in shedding pounds, the exact amount becomes yet more of an enigma.
It is essential to consult your veterinarian to decide how many calories your dog requires and the amount of food you should give it daily.
Are Senior Dogs Prone to Obesity?
Dr. Jerry Klein, AKC chief veterinary officer, states that although dogs at any age can experience obesity, the highest rate of it is present among dogs aged 5 to 12 years. This condition can lead to significant medical issues, reduce the life expectancy of a dog, and have a negative effect on its quality of life. Older dogs have a higher susceptibility to obesity due to their lower activity levels, being overfed, and the lack of obesity prevention tactics. In addition, the rate at which older dogs process energy tends to decrease as they get older.
This underscores why it is so vital to take care of the health of senior dogs. Quality kibble will be beneficial, but it will not be sufficient if you aim to have your dog in the best physical condition.
Weight Loss Tips for Senior Dogs
1. Feed your overweight dog more protein and less carbohydrates.
The proportion of carbohydrates to fats and proteins is more critical than the number of calories consumed when trying to lose weight. Most diets that are prescribed to help with weight loss contain a lot of carbohydrates, and are low in both fat and protein, making it hard to shed excess pounds. Canines flourish on a high-protein regimen, which constructs slender muscle, and they don’t need any carbohydrates in any case. The optimal diet plan for a dog trying to lose weight should have a substantial amount of protein, lower levels of carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of fat, which will fulfill their hunger.
2. Avoid feeding your dog high-fiber foods.
More fiber, the part of carbs that the body can’t process, won’t make your pup feel satisfied, and excessive amounts could interfere with nutrients being taken in. Grains often contribute dietary fiber, while several grain-free options are higher in protein and lower in carbohydrates. These items can be useful when trying to lose weight, however, they should not include too much fat.
3. Make your dog’s food.
You could also consider crafting a diet plan that is high in protein, moderately fatty, and low in carbohydrates.
Mary Straus, a contributor to WDJ, proposes utilizing lean meats, low-fat dairy products, and green veggies in preference to most grains and starches if you are cooking your pet’s meals. Peel off the skin from all pieces of chicken (except for the breasts) and trim away any visible fat from the different types of meat. Stay away from fatty cuts of meat like lamb, pork, and fatty beef, and try to cook them so the majority of the fat has been removed. It’s okay to include eggs in moderate amounts. You can substitute these ingredients for up to one-fourth of the store-bought pet food, upping the amount of protein while lessening the amount of carbs consumed.
She states that people often mistakenly think that substituting a large part of the food given to a dog with green beans can keep them from feeling hungry. It is alright to feed your pooch some green beans or other non-starchy vegetables, but if the amount of calories or fat in their meals is too little, the extra veggies will not be enough to make them feel full. Fat is the key to satisfying your dog; just increasing volume won’t do the trick. Eating too many green beans instead of getting sufficient protein can result in a deficiency, leading to the decline of lean body mass as opposed to fat.
4. Feed your dog the right fats.
Studies have found that the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA from fish oil can be beneficial to people and canines attempting to lose weight, as they can help individuals to feel more satisfied with their food intake. Dr. Straus suggests giving your puppy a fish oil supplement that consists of 1 to 1.5 mg of EPA and DHA for every pound of their body weight every day if they are healthy, or up to 3 mg for dogs suffering from any ailments (such as heart disease, kidney disease, cancer, arthritis, allergies, and other inflammatory illnesses or situations where their immune system is involved). Cod liver oils such as Carlson Norwegian Cod Liver Oil with Omega 3s give extra health perks because they include vitamins D and A.
Remember that oils are 100% fat and can add over 40 calories for each teaspoon when you are incorporating them into your pup’s diet. The instructions on the labels of several types of liquid fish-oil products tell you to feed more than is really necessary, resulting in additional calories in your dog’s meal. If your pup requires large amounts of EPA and DHA, search for more focused softgels. Be certain not to overload on fat when handling oils like coconut and olive oil, and make sure to take an accurate measurements.
5. Reduce your dog’s food portion size.
Rather than undertaking radical modifications all at the same time, reduce the quantity of your dog’s food by roughly 5% and supply this slightly less amount for a period of one to two weeks. This amounts to roughly 1 ounce per pound of food or 1/8 cup per two cups. Ensure your pup has been weighed today and then measure again in one or two weeks. If she still doesn’t slim down, cut back on her diet another 5% and keep that amount for between one to two weeks. Gradually decrease the amount of food you give your dog over time until they start to slim down, and then remain at that quantity.
Decreasing the amount of food abruptly will alter your pup’s metabolism, making it more difficult to shed pounds and simpler to regain them. The most likely result of a gradual, consistent reduction in weight is long-term success.
If you make a change to a food that has more protein and fat than what you are currently eating, you should reduce the amount by around a third, because foods with a high concentration of nutrients will give you a larger serving of calories in a smaller quantity. Although the overall quantity your pup is getting is less than before, he could be more contented.
Giving your dog smaller meals at more frequent intervals will help them to remain satiated. Swap out some of the dry kibbles with wet or fresh, high-protein meals so your dog believes it is receiving something exclusive. Provide Buster with his meals by way of a Kong, Cube, or any other interactive toy that requires him to use effort to get the food, which will result in him being more content. Preserve his moist food, or dehydrated food incorporated with fat-free yogurt, in a Kong toy to stretch out the meal even more.
Wet, Dry, or Both? Choosing Food for My Senior Dog
When it comes to deciding whether to give your elderly dog wet food, dry food, or both, this is mostly up to you. For many people, wet dog food may be less economical than buying a big bag of kibble that can last multiple weeks. For people with choosy dogs, dehydrated dog nourishment does not offer the same flavor as wet nourishment.
In other words, your dog may thrive with the combination of different approaches. Combining wet and dry canine nourishment is quite frequent and can assist in addressing both problems outlined previously, therefore requiring less wet food but still providing great taste. It is possible to combine different kinds of canine cuisine, however, it is preferable to find a product that both you and your furry friend are content with and to stick to it. If you locate a fine dry food designed for aging pooches and mix it with wet food to make it tender, your older dog will be delighted with their dinner. It is usually a good idea to purchase a wet food with the same protein source as the dry food you are mixing it with to avoid digestive issues, yet if your pooch usually has no problem with different types of proteins then don’t hesitate to switch them up once in a while.
All Life Stages Dog Food
The most pronounced distinction between senior dog food and ordinary dog food is normally the amount of calories. As previously indicated, older canines tend to have a reduced metabolism in comparison to puppies or younger dogs, and must consequently consume much fewer calories so that they don’t become overweight.
It would be beneficial to opt for a specific diet tailored to the needs of an overweight, senior dog rather than feeding them a regular all-life stages dog food recipe. In Dr. Anne Huss’ opinion, an adult canine with little activity who is susceptible to becoming overweight should not consume meals for all age groups; these may have too many calories for such an individual.
For instance, all ages of puppies have been formulated to have their specific nutritional needs in mind. Puppies need far more calories to support their speedy growth compared to adult dogs. Rather than using low-calorie dog food designed for weight management, the preferred choice is a higher-calorie food that is suitable for all stages of life. If you give a pup that is already over its ideal weight an all-stage food, it could cause more harm than good. It is important that you select food formulas designed for maintenance, as marked on the pet food package.
It is essential to check the AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Statement on the back of a pet food label whenever you are selecting food for a canine of any age to know which AAFCO Dog Nutrient Profile it complies with. This will guarantee that your canine receives all of the necessary nourishment for its age.
How Much to Feed a Dog
It is worth recognizing that even though it is important not to give a dog more than the recommended amount of food to maintain a healthy weight, there is no straight answer to the question of how much one should give. You can ascertain an adequate amount to feed your pup by referencing the directions found on the packaging of the dog food. Nevertheless, you should take these suggestions with caution.
The amount of food your pooch needs is contingent on a range of elements that the food label isn’t able to forecast, which include any existing health troubles, the region you live in, how active your dog is, and so on. These should all be taken into account when deciding how much to give your dog to eat. Therefore, it is highly imperative to consult your vet before deciding on the exact amounts.