As the dog gets older, the nutritional requirements change too. We explain to you how your dog’s metabolism and energy requirements change with increasing age and what needs to be considered when feeding older four-legged friends.
Older Dogs Have Different Needs
Once dogs have reached their last third of life, they are considered seniors. Just like with humans, the aging process is also very individual in dogs. While some dogs are still healthy and active even in old age, the first signs of aging appear earlier in other animals.
The aging process in dogs is often associated with changes in behavior. Senior dogs need more rest and sleep, exercise less, and suffer from illnesses more often. As a dog owner, it is important to consider the age of the pet in shaping their everyday life and diet.
Why Do Old Dogs Have Lower Energy Requirements?
Senior dogs have different nutritional needs than their younger counterparts. This is because the metabolism changes over the course of a dog’s life and the digestive system become sluggish. In addition, young dogs have a high energy requirement due to their activity, while energy consumption and level of activity decrease steadily with less movement and changes in the organism with age.
What are the Consequences of Poor Nutrition for Old Dogs?
Even if the dog can get along well with its food, in old age it is time to think about a change in diet. Because of the physical changes and the decreasing energy demand, there are also other demands on the supply of nutrients. If the diet is not adapted to the age of the senior dog, obesity often occurs due to food that is too high in energy and fat. In addition, typical age-related diseases such as dental problems, muscle, and joint problems as well as kidney and liver diseases can be favored by an improper diet of the dog.
Feeding Old Dogs Properly
In order for the dog to stay healthy into old age, a balanced diet is necessary. This includes the correct composition of the feed with all the necessary nutrients, but also the correct portioning of the dog food and the targeted administration of supplementary feed for senior dogs.
The Optimal Composition of Dog Food for Seniors
Old dogs are not only calmer and less active but they are also exposed to the physical aging process. Due to the slower digestion in old age, senior dogs need particularly well-tolerated food, which puts little strain on the stomach and intestines and can be optimally used and digested by the body. Dog food for seniors should be grain-free because grain puts a strain on the pet’s digestion. The fat content should also be as low as possible in order to counteract the old fatness. These components characterize a species-appropriate food for older dogs:
- High-quality, lean meat meets the need for proteins and amino acids.
- In the event of intolerance, hypoallergenic food made from particularly well-tolerated types of meat is suitable.
- Low-calorie and low-fat food counteract obesity in old age.
- A grain-free recipe relieves the digestive system. Potatoes or pseudo-grains contribute to the carbohydrate content.
- Easily digestible vegetables and fruits provide vitamins and fiber.
- Selected herbs such as nettle or dandelion support digestion and the functioning of the internal organs.
- Natural feed supplements provide an additional supply of vitamins and support intestinal activity.
Change of Feed for Senior Dogs
Changing the food can be difficult, especially if your dog is used to certain dog food. The already sluggish digestion of older dogs has to gradually get used to new food and can react to a sudden change with stomach upset, diarrhea or flatulence. Therefore, you should never switch the feed from one day to the next. Instead, introduce the senior food gradually by mixing it with the usual food and gradually increasing the proportion.
Portions and Amounts of Food for Older Dogs
While one likes to turn a blind eye to the portioning of the food in young dogs, the amount of food in senior dogs must be carefully controlled. If the dog gains weight despite the change in food, check the amount and composition of the food. So that your dog does not overeat and digestion is not overloaded even in its prime, give your fur nose smaller portions several times a day.
Senior Dogs Must Drink Enough
If possible, you should avoid dry food in old dogs or only feed part of the food in dry form. Wet food has high moisture content and provides the senior dog with liquid as soon as they are eating. Regardless of the type of food, make sure that there is always enough fresh water available and that the dog is drinking enough.