Choosing a diet for your elderly dog
When dog’s age, their dietary needs might change just like their human friends’ do. While it’s important to get your regular vet checks done, there are small changes you make in your dog’s diet that will help keep them healthier. In this article, I will talk about what aging means in dogs from a dietary point of view.
Watching your pet dog age is one of the inevitable but difficult aspects you have to endure during its lifetime. From slowing down of activities to prolonged sleeping time the changes are hard to miss. However by attending to the dog’s nutrition, you can take care of your pet and enhance or at least maintain its health and prevent it from deteriorating further.
Signs of aging
The first signs of aging in dogs occur when their age is around seven years and this can happen as late as 11 years too. The issues that dogs face as they age include skin deterioration, reduced muscle mass, arthritis, dental problems, obesity, frequent digestive problems and susceptibility to infection.
Choosing a diet for your elderly dog
Supplements and anti-oxidants helps in health maintenance of elderly dogs. Just as we take supplements to replenish depleting nutrients and vitamins in our body, the supplements provide the necessary sustenance for dogs.
Beta carotene and Vitamin E are some essential antioxidants that get rid of free radicals from the body thus avoiding damage to the tissues and aging signs. Further the antioxidants help to improve the immunity levels in elderly dogs. Thus it is important to ensure their diet has high levels of antioxidants.
Adding supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine and antioxidants help
- Alleviate conditions such as heart disease, arthritis
- Boost immunity
- Improve cognitive health
Vegetables and fruits such as spinach, tomatoes, carrots, raspberries and blueberries provide natural antioxidant source. Introduce the veggies and fruits gradually to avoid upsetting the digestive process in your elderly dog.
What to avoid
While choosing best dry dog food for your elderly dog, ensure it does not contain proteins derived by byproduct of chicken. This is because the by product can cause digestive upset and it is also an inferior source of nutrition. The same applies to soft or wet foods you choose for your elderly dog.
Other ingredients to avoid include wheat, gluten, corn and soybeans. These can easily trigger allergic reactions and also are difficult to digest for dogs.
Thing to consider while feeding your elderly dog
Some of the important things to consider while choosing the diet is maintaining healthy body weight and minimizing the effects of existing diseases. The foods should also slow down development of any chronic disease.
The size of the pet will help you decide on the type of diet you need to include. For smaller dogs, the signs of aging occur late while for bigger dogs the signs begin to show early on. So you should plan the elderly diet accordingly.
Since protein requirements do not reduce as a dog ages, you should avoid reducing the proteins you add to the dog’s diet. The diet should have digestible and healthy protein source. This will help your elderly dog regain its muscle mass.
Obesity is a cause of concern in an elderly dog. This is because even if the calories consumed are low, they are not burnt efficiently for energy production and the metabolic rate is also slow. The key here is to maintain a diet that is low in calorie but high in protein content to ensure muscle mass is maintained and weight gain avoided.
While you focus on the foods you add to your elderly dog’s diet ensure the daily routine of diet and health care is consistent. This should include periodic exams by the veterinarian. The examination helps to detect presence of disease, or if present the progress of a disease. Avoid any abrupt change in the routine. This can increase stress and cause health issues for the elderly dog. If at all you need to add some changes, do it gradually.
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