Did you know that dogs are considered seniors at about 7 to 12 years of age, depending upon size and breed? As a general rule, the smaller the dog, the longer it takes to show signs of aging. Lately I’ve noticed some of my puppy friends are slowing down a bit. Abby & JoJo are starting to rest more and are even getting grey hairs. And I don’t get to play as much with my friend Caroline anymore because her joints are not as strong as they used to be. But let me tell you, these senior pups are still as sharp as they ever were and loving life. That’s because their Mommy’s and Daddy’s help keep them in tip-top shape. One way they do that is through their diet.
One easy thing to do when your pup reaches senior age is to switch them from adult dog food to the senior formula. Senior formula’s have special vitamins and minerals to help decrease the most common problems of senior dogs. As a dog ages, just as a human ages, their bodies change. Their metabolisms slow down, so it’s easier for them to gain weight. They can start to lose muscle mass, their skin and coat start changing, they can develop arthritis and dental issues. Plus as dogs age, it’s more difficult for them to fight off illnesses and infections. Feeding senior dogs’ specially formulated food for older pups can help decrease a lot of the common aging problems.
Since senior dogs put on weight easier than younger dogs, you need to pay close attention to their calorie intake. If you keep feeding them as much as you did when they were younger, they most likely will gain weight. Switching to a lower calorie food or lowering the amount of food and/or treats you feed your dog is the best way to avoid pet obesity. If you choose to lessen the amount of food in your dog’s diet, do so gradually. Like humans, your pups can become very hungry if you dramatically lower the amount of food they are eating.
And make sure your senior dog is getting plenty of protein. Not only does protein help your dog feel fuller for a longer period of time, but it helps maintain their muscle mass. Check with your veterinarian for specifics on the amount and type of food your senior dog should be eating.
A dog’s diet is important at any age, but by paying special attention to your senior dog’s nutrition needs, you can help him or her live a longer, healthier and happier life.