We hate to think about our dogs getting older but as they do it is vital to keep an eye on exactly what they are eating. Burning fewer calories than their younger selves, as our dog’s age increases so can their waistlines.
Senior dog food is lighter in calories, and lower in fat but still nutritionally dense enough to ensure your dog is getting everything they need and more. So, if your dog is in the later stage of adulthood and gaining a few extra pounds here and there, switching to senior dog food could be the best recipe for keeping your furry friend happier and healthier for longer.
What is Senior Dog Food and Is it Necessary?
At around 7 years of age, our dogs enter the senior stage of their life and require a diet that supports their needs as older dogs. Senior dog food is often lower in fat, contains fewer calories and is packed with ingredients providing everything from urinary to joint support.
As our dogs age, they are more likely to gain weight, lose muscle mass, have sensitive digestion and develop problems with their joints so senior food is created with all your dog’s needs in mind. From added Omega 3 for eye and joint eye to low-calorie proteins like chicken and turkey used to manage weight, senior dog food is excellent for giving your pooch all the nutrition they need to keep their bodies working and their tails wagging.
What Conditions Can Senior Dog Food Help Manage?
Senior Dog food can help manage conditions such as:
- Skin Disease ever noticed your dog suffering from red, itchy and irritated skin? Well, this could be a sign of dermatitis, an issue with the skin’s ability to stay smooth and supple leading to dry, red, flaky and sometimes oozing skin.
Dermatitis in dogs will lead your dog to nibble, gnaw and excessively bite at the skin to relieve the symptoms but with some dietary changes, this can be managed easier than you think. High protein diets with added Vitamin E are known to support the health of skin and coats in dogs. This vital vitamin creates collagen fibres promoting healthy skin and coat growth ensuring your dog’s coat is thick, and shiny and their skin is smooth and supple.
Benefits of Senior Dog Food
From supporting joints to managing healthy digestion, senior dog food is a great way of ensuring your canine companion is as healthy as they can be. Created to support issues common in older dogs, here are four ways senior food can support your dog today.
Maintain Muscle Mass
One of the primary benefits of senior food for our golden oldies is the effects it can have on maintaining muscle mass. Senior foods contain proteins such as chicken and turkey which are incredibly lean whilst being rich in proteins suited for maintaining healthy muscles. As dogs grow older and less active, their muscle mass depletes therefore proteins like chicken and turkey can aid in keeping muscles looking and acting exactly as they should.
Senior dogs' food also provides the perfect balance between protein and fat. A 100g serving of chicken contains 31 g of protein with only 3.6 grams of fat brilliantly balancing the low-fat content your less active dog needs whilst providing pawfuls of protein to support their muscles and joints.
Brilliant for Bones & Joints
As issues with bones and joints are one of the primary concerns of senior dogs, their food is specifically designed with these worries in mind. Oozing with omega 3 acids, helping to keep joints and bones in tip-top shape, many senior dog foods also have added glucosamine and chondroitin, natural compounds found in cartilages that help cushion joints. Prone to joint inflammation and pain, known as arthritis, adding a little extra of these natural compounds can aid your dog’s mobility keeping them as active as they were in their younger years.
Sensitive on Stomachs
Like us humans, as our dogs slow down, so does their digestion. From looser stools to constipation, your dog’s senior years can play havoc on their sensitive stomachs. Containing low-fat proteins, easy-to-digest ingredients and supplements to maintain a healthy belly, senior dog food can help manage troublesome tummies and keep your dog’s digestion as regular as ever.
Support Healthy Skin & Coat
Being the largest organ in your dog’s body, the skin is fundamental for regulating temperature, providing a barrier against the environment and giving your dog its ability to touch therefore keeping it healthy is fundamental for your dog’s wellbeing.
Loaded with vitamin A and linoleic acid, senior dog food can support your dog’s skin and coat keeping it shiny, flake and disease free. It also helps manage the thickness of your dog’s fur, which is likely to thin during older years, so with a little extra TLC, your dog has a little more protection when the winter weather decides to come.
When Should You Switch to Senior Dog Food?
As there is no one size fits all approach to feeding dogs, the same goes when switching to senior food. Although your dog may have reached the senior age of 7, this doesn’t necessarily mean they require an instant switch to lighter food on their birthday. Switching to senior food is dependent on your dog’s breed, behaviour and health. For smaller breeds like terriers, pugs and dachshunds, you may find yourself switching to senior food earlier as these dogs require fewer calories and are often less active than larger breeds like spaniels, retrievers and collies.
For larger and more active breeds, you may switch to senior food a little later - perhaps between the ages of 8-9 when you begin to notice your pooch becoming less active, less nimble on their joints and even gaining weight more than usual.
When your dog hits their senior stage, it is also worth having a chat with your vet to discuss whether you or they believe senior food is the right step in their veterinary care.
How to Choose the Right Senior Dog Food
When choosing any food for your dog, it is vital to always read the label for ingredients, feeding amounts and any extra supplements added to support your dog. Brands often label their food specifically for puppies, adults and senior dogs so it isn’t difficult to find food suitable for your senior dog.
Any good dog food should contain between 40-60% protein to help maintain your dog’s health and wellbeing so keep an eye on labels with how much protein their food contains. Look for ingredients like chicken and turkey as these proteins are lower in fat and less calorific - great for senior dogs.
Stick with what they know
If your dog has been eating a specific brand for years then opt for their senior option if they offer one. For dogs who are best on grain-free, it is best to stick to grain-free options in their senior years also. If your dog’s favourite food doesn’t offer a senior option, then choose the next best recipe and slowly wean your dog onto their new food.
Ultimately, when choosing your dog’s senior food, opt for primary ingredients like poultry, stick to what they know and try recipes with added joint, urinary and muscle support to keep your dog in tip-top shape for the golden years of their life.