As your dog gets older, he’s bound to experience a variety of changes. After all, aging is inevitable. Fortunately, the right nutrients can boost your elderly pup’s health from the inside out so he can enjoy his senior years to the fullest.
When it comes to choosing the best senior dog food for your pet, there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula, especially since the health needs of senior dogs can vary significantly. Even the age that dogs are considered senior can vary depending on breed and size!
Any changes to your dog’s diet should be made with your dog’s individual needs and preferences in mind, preferably with the insight of a vet. That said, here are a few basic tips to keep in mind when selecting your pet’s senior dog food.
Do All Senior Dogs Need Senior Dog Food?
Senior dog food tends to be designed specifically for preventing or slowing age-related health conditions and improving your elderly dog’s overall quality of life. Every dog is different, though, and depending on your pup’s health and lifestyle, it may not always be necessary to switch from adult to senior dog food. In some cases, dietary supplements will do the trick.
If you speak to your vet and do decide to transition your dog to a senior dog food diet, one easy way to make the switch is to use the senior version of your dog’s current food. That way, there isn’t too much of an adjustment period. If that isn’t an option, look for foods with similar flavors, textures, and nutrients—if your dog has been eating chicken-flavored food his entire life, he may be set in his ways and not too enthusiastic about switching to duck.
If and when you do make the switch, be sure to do it gradually over time in order to avoid tummy troubles.
Ingredients to Keep in Mind
When looking for the best senior dog food for your furry friend, consider more than just his age. Weight and activity level are important factors, especially since many dogs become less active over time and require fewer calories in order to maintain a healthy weight.
However, for senior dogs who have trouble metabolizing foods, higher-calorie foods may be the better option to keep Fido from becoming underweight.
A common misconception is that senior dog food should also contain less protein than other dog foods, but this isn’t necessarily true. In fact, senior dogs tend to need more protein than their younger counterparts in order to maintain muscle mass. If you choose a low-calorie senior dog food, make sure it still has plenty of easily digestible protein—about 28-32%.
It’s also important to look for foods that are low in sodium and phosphorus in order to maintain healthy kidney function, heart health, and blood pressure.
Other key ingredients to be on the lookout for include:
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin for healthy joints
- Antioxidants for increased immunity
- Omega-3’s for joint, skin, and kidney health
- Fiber to assist with digestion
Nutritional supplements can also be incredibly beneficial for your dog. Try Pet Honesty’s Senior Dog Health Booster 3-Pack. This senior specific combo includes:
- Senior Hemp Mobility Chews
- 10-for-1 Multivitamin Chews
- Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
These tasty blends of natural ingredients are a simple way to boost your senior’s joints, skin, gut, brain, and heart health.
Encouraging Your Senior Dog to Eat
Some dogs lose interest in food as they get older. Perhaps their appetite just isn’t what it used to be, or eating is becoming increasingly difficult. If your senior dog is reluctant to eat, there are a few ways you may be able to entice him to enjoy mealtime.
For example, your dog may be hesitant to eat because he’s having trouble chewing his food as a result of dental issues. In this case, you may want to opt for wet or canned food instead of dry food like kibble.
Perhaps your pup is having trouble bending down to reach his food and water bowls because of joint discomfort. Make food more easily accessible with raised bowls; another option is to encourage your dog to eat while lying down.
When your senior dog doesn’t have much of an appetite, try warming up his food in the microwave to enhance the smell and make it more appealing. You could also try making it tastier by adding chicken broth, canned pumpkin, or a small amount of wet food on top of dry food.
If you’re feeling ambitious enough, you could even try to make some home-cooked senior dog meals.
Of course, it’s always a good idea to talk to your vet if your dog is reluctant or having trouble eating, in order to rule out any health issues that need to be addressed.