Senior Dog Food: A Look at Age-Specific Formulas

In order to maintain a healthy and active lifestyle for your pet, owners must know what to look for in senior dog food to suit their animal's needs. Older dogs may not require the same nutrients as puppies or younger dogs, as new nutritional and health issues arise with age. Senior dogs can face problems with decreased activity, joint and bone pain or disease, a weakening immune system, weight gain or loss of appetite, and digestion problems. A proper balanced diet for older pets can help ease these problems and, if started early enough, prevent many of these issues.

Vitamins for Joints and Energy

As a dog gets older and cannot be as active as he used to be, it is important to keep energy levels up and maintain some level of exercise that does not strain the older and less mobile dog. For joint and muscle pain, try glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate vitamin supplements to improve joint movement and ease arthritis in older dogs. Other vitamins and antioxidants such as vitamin B-12 for energy and vitamins E and C to build up immune systems are great additions to your dog's diet.

Avoiding Obesity

With a decrease in activity and a slower metabolism in older dogs, obesity can become a serious problem. Not only is excess weight bad for a dog's heart and lungs, but can also add extra stress to joints and bones. Special diet and senior dog food formulas are not always the best option for heavier dogs-instead, try reducing portion sizes, and feeding your older dog the smaller portions two to four times a day.

Look for nutritionally balanced foods with good sources of proteins from chicken, beef or lamb, rather than from poultry by-products and meat or bone meals. Paying more for high quality food will keep your senior dog more healthy and active. By avoiding cheap and unhealthy dog foods from the beginning, you'll minimize possible joint stress, weight problems and low immune health as your dog enters old age.

Avoiding Unhealthy Weight Loss

Alternatively, weight loss can be a serious problem for senior dogs as they lose their appetite. Try mixing chicken or beef broth, carrots, canned pumpkin or plain diced chicken to dry food to add some taste and variety to the meals. Don't add too much, or it could upsets your dog's stomach.

Maintaining healthy levels of fiber is also important to avoid intestinal problems that can lead to vomiting, diarrhea or constipation. Also, cut out fatty table scraps and treats that aren't low in fat and calories. Older dogs may not be able to digest table scraps like younger dogs can, leading to digestive issues or weight gain.