Senior Dog Health

As our dogs age, they go through a lot of significant physical changes. Their nutritional requirements change as well. The way the body uses energy changes, along with the amount of substance needed to produce energy. This process, known as metabolism, tends to slow down, especially in dogs, so that the need for fat and calories decreases. The lack of knowledge in the area of animal physiology has led many pet owners to unknowingly overfeed their aging dogs, which has led to a growing population of overweight and obese dogs, and the illnesses that accompany these conditions.

Senior dogs tend to gain weight, despite consuming fewer calories, either due to changes in their metabolic rate. They, therefore, benefit from eating a diet with reduced fat levels and lower caloric density than adult maintenance foods.

Recent IAMS research in dogs also indicates that L-carnitine—a vitamin-like compound made in the body from the amino acids found in red meats, fish, chicken, and milk—can help reduce weight in overweight dogs by escorting fat into cellular mitochondria where it is turned into energy.

Senior dogs should be fed complete and balanced nutrition that contains an optimal blend of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help support their joints and other tissues. Dog foods with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from fish oil, help to reduce inflammation such as that caused by obesity.

A dog’s maintenance energy requirements (MER) decrease with age due to decreases in lean body mass and activity level. Neutering not only can reduce MER, it also can stimulate appetite. If energy intake, or food consumption, does not likewise decrease, a dog could become overweight or obese. Feeding table foods, treats and high-fat diets also can contribute to obesity.

Older dogs, especially those over 7 years of age, will benefit from a diet formulated for their needs. Senior dog diets often have lower calories, higher protein, lower sodium, and fewer carbohydrates. Many also contain ingredients such as prebiotics to maintain healthy intestinal microbial populations, increased omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants to combat inflammation, and glucosamine to promote joint health.

“Studies show that there is at least a 50 percent increase in the dietary protein requirement in elderly dogs,” says Joseph J. Wakshlag, D.V.M., Ph.D., DACVN, DACVSMR, associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “It is very important to feed higher protein diets to maintain lean body mass in muscle-wasted elderly dogs.”

Obese and overweight dogs should be fed weight-loss diets or low-calorie foods with an increased proportion of essential nutrients to calories.

Feeding high-calorie foods may require an inappropriate reduction in the volume of food that could cause dogs to feel hungry and an inappropriate reduction of essential nutrients. Dietary protein is important in weight-loss diets because it promotes lean body mass and muscle strength. Dietary fiber has a low digestibility and when combined with high protein provides enhanced satiety so a dog feels fuller. Older dogs need high protein to offset the detrimental effect of aging on protein turnover, the process in which the body catabolizes spent protein and makes new proteins needed by the body. Inadequate protein intake increases the rate of loss of lean body mass.

Older dogs are already more at risk for developing kidney and heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and various forms of cancer. The immune system also weakens with age, leaving older dogs at a higher risk of infection and slowed healing. For some, there is a genetic breed link that predisposes them to disease. To combat, or to at least mitigate the effects of these conditions, there are diets that have been specially formulated for special needs pets.

Maintaining the strength of the aging immune system is also a priority, and this can be done with the addition of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet – – both are known to boost immunity and improve the body’s ability to heal.

Even if your dog is not suffering from a diseased condition, changes such as these are a practical disease deterrent. Consult your veterinarian so that you are tailoring your dog’s diet to his or her specific physical needs.

Older dogs are undergoing many different physiological changes. To keep up with these changes, it is recommended that a diet that is suited for older dogs be fed. Remember to keep up with the exercise and keep the weight under control. Your older dog needs regular veterinary checkups, and you may need to consider some of the nutritional supplements. By following some of these basic principles, you can make these golden years some of the best years of your dog’s life.

Aging dogs have special nutritional needs, and some of those can be supplied in the form of supplements. Feeding a daily supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin, may help support joints. If your dog is not eating a complete balanced diet, then a vitamin/mineral supplement is recommended to prevent any deficiencies. Some owners like to feed extra antioxidants like our Antioxitabs. As mentioned earlier, a fiber product such as wheat bran may help to reduce the incidence of constipation.

 

Senior Dog Health

As our dogs age, they go through a lot of significant physical changes. Their nutritional requirements change as well. The way the body uses energy changes, along with the amount of substance needed to produce energy. This process, known as metabolism, tends to slow down, especially in dogs, so that the need for fat and calories decreases. The lack of knowledge in the area of animal physiology has led many pet owners to unknowingly overfeed their aging dogs, which has led to a growing population of overweight and obese dogs, and the illnesses that accompany these conditions.

senior dog

Senior dogs tend to gain weight, despite consuming fewer calories, either due to changes in their metabolic rate. They, therefore, benefit from eating a diet with reduced fat levels and lower caloric density than adult maintenance foods.

Recent IAMS research in dogs also indicates that L-carnitine—a vitamin-like compound made in the body from the amino acids found in red meats, fish, chicken, and milk—can help reduce weight in overweight dogs by escorting fat into cellular mitochondria where it is turned into energy.

Senior dogs should be fed complete and balanced nutrition that contains an optimal blend of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help support their joints and other tissues. Dog foods with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from fish oil, help to reduce inflammation such as that caused by obesity.

A dog’s maintenance energy requirements (MER) decrease with age due to decreases in lean body mass and activity level. Neutering not only can reduce MER, it also can stimulate appetite. If energy intake, or food consumption, does not likewise decrease, a dog could become overweight or obese. Feeding table foods, treats and high-fat diets also can contribute to obesity.

Older dogs, especially those over 7 years of age, will benefit from a diet formulated for their needs. Senior dog diets often have lower calories, higher protein, lower sodium, and fewer carbohydrates. Many also contain ingredients such as prebiotics to maintain healthy intestinal microbial populations, increased omega-3 fatty acids and other antioxidants to combat inflammation, and glucosamine to promote joint health.

“Studies show that there is at least a 50 percent increase in the dietary protein requirement in elderly dogs,” says Joseph J. Wakshlag, D.V.M., Ph.D., DACVN, DACVSMR, associate professor at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. “It is very important to feed higher protein diets to maintain lean body mass in muscle-wasted elderly dogs.”

Obese and overweight dogs should be fed weight-loss diets or low-calorie foods with an increased proportion of essential nutrients to calories. Feeding high-calorie foods may require an inappropriate reduction in the volume of food that could cause dogs to feel hungry and an inappropriate reduction of essential nutrients. Dietary protein is important in weight-loss diets because it promotes lean body mass and muscle strength. Dietary fiber has a low digestibility and when combined with high protein provides enhanced satiety so a dog feels fuller. Older dogs need high protein to offset the detrimental effect of aging on protein turnover, the process in which the body catabolizes spent protein and makes new proteins needed by the body. Inadequate protein intake increases the rate of loss of lean body mass.

Older dogs are already more at risk for developing kidney and heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and various forms of cancer. The immune system also weakens with age, leaving older dogs at a higher risk of infection and slowed healing. For some, there is a genetic breed link that predisposes them to disease. To combat, or to at least mitigate the effects of these conditions, there are diets that have been specially formulated for special needs pets.

Maintaining the strength of the aging immune system is also a priority, and this can be done with the addition of antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids in the diet – – both are known to boost immunity and improve the body’s ability to heal.

Even if your dog is not suffering from a diseased condition, changes such as these are a practical disease deterrent. Consult your veterinarian so that you are tailoring your dog’s diet to his or her specific physical needs.

Older dogs are undergoing many different physiological changes. To keep up with these changes, it is recommended that a diet that is suited for older dogs be fed. Remember to keep up with the exercise and keep the weight under control. Your older dog needs regular veterinary checkups, and you may need to consider some of the nutritional supplements. By following some of these basic principles, you can make these golden years some of the best years of your dog’s life.

Aging dogs have special nutritional needs, and some of those can be supplied in the form of supplements. Feeding a daily supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitin, may help support joints. If your dog is not eating a complete balanced diet, then a vitamin/mineral supplement is recommended to prevent any deficiencies. Some owners like to feed extra antioxidants like our Antioxitabs. As mentioned earlier, a fiber product such as wheat bran may help to reduce the incidence of constipation.