Deciding to provide your dog with a senior dog diet can be more difficult than you might imagine. This is because the age at which dogs get older is different. Most of them get the status of senior at an age between 7 and 12 years old, with small dogs getting older later. For example, a Chihuahua may be in shape even at the age of 12 while a Saint Bernard slows down at the age of 6.
In today’s article we will try to give you answers to the main questions received on this topic.
How many calories should the senior dog diet include?
Does a senior dog need more or less calories? As in humans, with aging, metabolic changes take place and make the body burn less calories and store them as fat. Recent studies show that a percentage of 20% less calories should be consumed by a senior dog in order to maintain the weight from an early age. Thus, the senior dog’s diet should include less fat and fewer calories. L-carnitine -rich products (an important amino acid), such as red meat, fish, chicken and dairy products, can help the body use fat to produce energy.
For very old dogs, things are different. The older they get, the more they tend to lose weight and need more calories. In these cases, there is a lack of appetite, probably due to the partial loss of smell or taste or even chewing difficulties. Increasing the number of fats may help to improve the efficiency of proteins, but a discussion with the veterinarian is recommended, especially in dogs of very old age.
How much protein should the senior dog diet include?
High levels of protein help maintaining the muscles. Recent studies have contradicted the view that it may affect the kidneys. A study comparing the protein requirement of a 2-year-old Beagle vs. a 13-year-old Beagle showed that a senior dog requires up to 50% more protein. Proteins are important for older dogs because even if they exercise, they tend to lose muscle mass. This also involves the loss of protein reserves, including the immune system and impairing the body’s ability to defend itself from trauma, infections or stress. Decreased protein reserves also mean that there are no more amino acids in the body for tissue repair and energy metabolism. Thus, the feed of the senior dog must include a minimum of 25% protein of the total calories.
What is the recommended level of fiber and minerals indicated?
With regard to fibers, greater care must be taken. They are necessary, but they can also decrease the absorption of certain nutrients. For example, cellulose-based fibers ferment poorly and can significantly reduce the digestion of other nutrients. However, they are useful because they help prevent constipation, a major problem of senior dogs. In addition, it ensures the regulation of glucose level. Currently, it is recommended to replace cellulose-based fibers, commonly used in traditional dog nutrition, with moderately fermented fiber mixtures, such as beet pulp, to balance blood sugar levels and digestion.
As for minerals, we are told that with aging we must exclude salt from the diet. This is not true in case dogs. They prefer that their diet also include sodium with the exception of those with high blood pressure, heart problems and kidney problems who need a low sodium diet. Veterinarians recommend lowering the sodium level but not completely eliminating it from the senior dog’s diet. As for calcium, if your diet is balanced or you have chosen a special diet from the trade, no supplements are needed. The predisposition of dogs to osteoporosis is reduced.
Water is vital in the senior dog’s diet because it can dehydrate quickly. Health problems such as heart or kidney problems can lead to more frequent urination due to prescribed diuretics. Make sure it has clean water at all times to encourage it to drink more.