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As the dog ages, many changes occur in his body. You will see a complete change in your pup's lifestyle. You may feel that their activity level are no longer the same; different health problems can appear.
Diet plays a vital role in the different stages of a dog's life, especially in the case of older dogs, because their body changes must be addressed with their diet. Most people ask questions about what to feed senior dogs and whether it is worth switching from a regular diet to senior dog food.
Here, we will answer some commonly asked questions about senior dog nutrition and different related queries.
At what age is a dog considered as a senior?
Different breeds are considered senior at different ages. Small dog breeds remain healthy and active for a longer period and are considered senior when they reach the age of 11 years or older. Compared to them, medium-sized dog breeds are considered older when they reach the age of 10 years. Giant dog breeds enter the circle of antiquity a little earlier than others. They are considered seniors from 7 years of age.
Do older dogs really need senior food?
When dogs reach old age, their nutritional requirements change, and if you continue to feed them regular dog food, they will suffer from different health issues. Senior dogs have a slower metabolic rate and find it challenging to digest highly nutritious foods, so there is a possibility that they will become obese.
Therefore, it is better to convert to senior dog food; most companies even start manufacturing senior dog food with different nutritional settings for each breed.
Does senior dog food make a difference?
Yes, senior dog foods have differences compared to those labeled puppy or adult dog food. Senior dog food has a different nutritional composition. Generally, a portion of old dog food contains less fat, less protein, and more carbohydrates than puppy food. Senior dog food helps a lot if your dog suffers from any weight control problems. On average, we can say older dog food contains fewer calories per cup than other life stages food.
Should senior dogs have high protein food?
Yes, senior dogs need protein in a reasonable amount because they have to fuel their muscles. Senior dogs often suffer from muscle loss problems. They even become so weak that they cannot even walk without assistance. Approximately 50 percent more protein is required in food to maintain muscle mass and keep it healthy. Therefore, older dogs should be fed a high protein diet.
Older dogs need 28 to 32 percent protein, according to the Pet Obesity Prevention Association on a dry matter basis.
Should Senior Dogs Eat Wet Or Dry Food?
As dogs age, their dental problem becomes more apparent, and their teeth become more sensitive. Older dogs often have difficulty chewing hard kibble and are uncomfortable while eating. You can change their diet to soft or canned foods to alleviates discomfort.
Aside from that, wet dog food contains extra protein, no preservatives, and fewer carbohydrates. They are super easy to chew, and in no time, wet dog food becomes your senior dog's first choice.
How many times a day should you feed a senior dog?
The nutritional needs of senior dogs are lower compared to adult dogs. They do not have that level of activity and do not need high-energy foods. Similarly, the amount of food should be kept in check because it is essential to feed your dog healthy food to keep him at a healthy weight. It would be best if you feed your older dog at least twice a day.
Is it cruel to feed a senior dog once a day?
The schedule and number of meals to feed your dog depend on the family's schedule. Most families feed their senior dogs 12 hours apart. Some families even feed their dogs according to their own breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule. However, the best practice is to feed them every 12 hours. Feeding an older dog once a day is not good as it will produce stomach acid leading to nausea and other digestive issues.
How do I get my senior dog to eat?
If your senior dog is not eating food and there is apparently no medical cause behind it, there are some tips you can try:
- Dry food can be difficult for your senior dog to chew, and try mixing dry and wet food to make the food more palatable and appetizing.
- You can also heat their food to increase the smell and attract your dog towards the food.
- Try homemade soft foods for your dog.
- Stay close to your dog and look for any signs of illness.
- Provide clean, fresh water available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Praise your dog.
Why is my senior dog so hungry?
For the most part, a common problem seen in older dogs is loss of appetite, but there is sometimes a sudden increase in appetite in older pets. Loss of appetite is a normal part of the aging process, but increased appetite is always linked to any medical condition. Increased appetite in older dogs could be due to hyperthyroidism and Cushing's disease. Sometimes you are not offering the right amount of food to your dog, which is why they will always appear hungry. Your dog will suffer from obesity if he eats too much.
Why is my senior dog getting skinny even though he eats?
Senior dogs often lose muscle mass and appear skinny; this weight loss is due to calorie-deficit foods, high energy demands, health problems, and poor-quality food. Sometimes a sudden weight loss is due to a dental problem, diabetes, intestinal parasites, cancer, and viral disease. It is essential to consult your vet, as it can be a severe threat to your dog's life.
Different nutritional problems appear with age, and it is crucial to give your older dog the proper and adequate amount of food. If you are having difficulty understanding your dog's nutritional needs, consult your veterinarian, and ask your vet about the caloric and protein requirements of your senior dog.