As your dog ages, he’s bound to experience age-related changes. He’ll be less energetic than he was as a puppy; he may begin to slow down physically and mentally, and you’ll begin to notice changes in his appearance and behavior. As your dog’s energy levels and metabolism change, his nutritional needs will also change.
How do you know when it’s time to switch your dog to senior dog food? Is senior dog food really necessary? Read on to find out!
When is a Dog Considered Senior?
Your dog may always be a sweet pup in your eyes, but there’s no denying the fact that the two of you are getting older every day.
Dogs age differently depending on breed and health. For example, puppyhood can range from 8 months to two years. Generally speaking, most dogs are considered “senior” around age seven or older.
If your dog is technically considered senior but is still perfectly healthy, it’s possible that he can continue with his current lifestyle and diet without issue. Just be sure to check in with your vet regularly and follow their recommendations as your pup grows up.
Nutritional Needs of Senior Dogs
Every dog is different; your dog isn’t necessarily going to need a new diet just because he recently celebrated his 7th birthday. Instead, his dietary needs will change along with his health needs. It just so happens that many of those health needs coincide with aging.
For example, since older dogs tend to be less active due to lower energy levels and joint/mobility issues, they’re more prone to weight gain. As your dog’s lifestyle changes, his nutritional needs will likely change as well.
Common nutritional needs of older dogs include:
Fewer calories. If your dog isn’t burning as many calories as he used to, he doesn’t need to consume as many as before. (That said, a very old dog may actually need more calories if he begins losing weight and muscle.)
Plenty of protein. Many dogs lose muscle mass as they age, so it’s important that your pup is consuming plenty of muscle-building protein. Plus, protein deficiencies can be harmful to your dog’s immune system.
Fiber. Depending on your dog’s age and health needs, he may or may not need additional amounts of fiber to aid with combatting digestive issues and promoting weight loss. Check with your vet to make sure Fido is getting the right amount of fiber.
- Vitamins and supplements. If your dog loses his ability to properly digest and absorb essential nutrients, he may need vitamins and supplements. Some senior dog foods containing added vitamins and minerals may be sufficient; in other cases, your pup may need a daily vitamin.
Senior dog diets are generally designed with these nutritional needs in mind, with the intention of promoting a longer lifespan, maintaining health, and keeping additional health issues at bay. Talk to your vet to better understand your dog’s nutritional needs and make sure you’re addressing any current nutritional gaps or deficiencies.
When to Switch to Senior Dog Food
As mentioned above, you should focus more on choosing your dog’s food with his health and nutritional needs in mind, rather than his age.
For example, if your older dog is experiencing dental problems, he may benefit from switching to senior-specific wet food to make eating easier. If your senior pup has joint or mobility issues, he may benefit from senior dog food containing Omega-3 fatty acids to help with mobility. If your low-energy senior dog is packing on the pounds due to inactivity, he would likely benefit from a lower-calorie diet.
It’s also possible that your dog simply needs some daily vitamins and supplements in addition to his regular adult dog food. Some dogs are just fine eating the same food they’ve been eating for the last several years; others need something different that aligns with their health needs.
Long story short: most older dogs who switch to a senior diet do so because of specific health conditions—not just because they’ve gotten older.
Choosing the Best Senior Dog Food
If your vet has advised that it’s time to make the switch, you have a few options when it comes to choosing the best senior dog food.
One option is to simply switch to the senior version of your dog’s current food (or look for something similar). Dogs are creatures of habit, so the same brand, variety, texture, and flavor would certainly ease any anxiety that comes with a food transition.
However, there are times where a vet may suggest a different type of food entirely. Either way, be sure to look for food designed for your dog’s breed, size, and specific health issues.
Common things to look for when choosing the best senior dog food include:
- Lower calorie count
- Lower fat levels
- Higher protein levels
- Appropriate fiber levels for your dog
- Omega-3 fatty acids
Support your older dog’s overall health with PetHonesty’s Senior Best Sellers 3-Pack, which contains our best-selling:
- Senior Allergy Support Soft Chews
- Advanced Multivitamin Soft Chews
- PureMobility Soft Chews
These supplemental chews are made from natural ingredients to promote your senior pup’s health from the inside out.