Preventing Weight Gain in an Older Dog

Preventing weight gain in an older dog doesn't have to be difficult. It simply takes at bit of observation and effort. Serving the right food and providing daily exercise will benefit your dog as he ages. Extra pounds on an older pet may contribute to joint disease, congestive heart failure and diabetes. Read on to learn about controlling your dog's weight.

Get Ready for the "Slow Down"

Throughout the course of his lifetime, a dog's weight can fluctuate. A veterinarian will weigh your dog at each exam. Keep track of how much your dog weighs so you know what's normal for him. A slight variance in weight is normal for a growing dog, but for an elderly dog, it can result in health problems.

A dog's metabolism slows down as he ages. Along with that, his energy level usually decreases as well. Be prepared for this change in your dog's metabolic rate and lifestyle. Look for any signs of your dog slowing down or any increase in his weight. You will need to control the portions of food you serve him, and monitor his calorie count. In addition, an older dog needs daily encouragement to exercise.

Provide Exercise for an Older Dog

Exercise is a vital part of preventing weight gain in an older dog. Limit the intensity of his workouts, but be sure and follow a normal routine. Simply gear the activity toward your dog's fitness level and health condition. Even a quick romp in the yard or a few minutes of ball toss will burn off some calories.

Regular activity not only supports your dog's physical health, but it strengthens his mental and emotional well-being, too.

Consider one of the following exercise routines for your dog:

  • Play a game of fetch or rope-tug to get him warmed up
  • Take him on a leisurely walk each day; step up the pace to a brisk walk once a week
  • Help him maintain muscle tone: climb a small hill or a slight ramp

Serve the Correct Food

  • Dogs start to display age-related changes when they are anywhere from seven to twelve years of age. The proper diet can help your dog adapt to the changes in his metabolism and aging body.
  • It's best to feed an older dog a diet that's low on calories and high on protein. You will need to monitor your dog to see what works for him. Some older dogs tend to gain weight even when they eat fewer calories.
  • Feed your dog the appropriate foods to serve his aging body.
  • Always provide fresh clean water for an aging dog. It helps to keep his system functioning properly and flushes out impurities.
  • Incorporate Vitamin B foods into his diet. They will assist his bone development and enhance his metabolism.
  • Vitamin D and calcium are also helpful for increasing a dog's bone strength and muscle tone.
  • Feed your pet a life-stage food for senior dogs. A fortified diet will help maintain his weight and provide the proper nutrition for his changing body.
  • Older pets need the appropriate amounts of digestible protein.

Help to control weight gain by stripping an older dog's diet of the following:

  • Excessive carbohydrates
  • Food and treats high in sugar
  • Bad fat sources: animal-meal or animal by-products
  • Table scraps and treats made for humans
  • Highly processed foods
  • Biscuits made with preservatives and fillers
  • Foods with reduced levels of protein