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What you need to know about feeding senior dogs

senior dogs

What you need to know about feeding senior dogs

Senior pet parenting is both unique and fulfilling. Whether you’ve adopted them in their old age or raised them from puppyhood, senior dogs have a wisdom, knowledge, and easy-going pace about them that is a treat and a comfort to have in your home. And while all pet life stages have their high points, the more mellow attitude of older dogs may be just the right fit for your lifestyle.

As dogs age out of their youthful liveliness, you’ll notice their habits start to change. As pet parents, our job is to make this transition as easy as possible for our companions by making the right adjustments to their lifestyles. Diet is among the most important of these adjustments, and there are many factors to consider when it comes to senior dog food.

With that in mind, here are some of the things you should know about feeding senior dogs.

When should I start feeding my dog senior recipes?

This tends to be a common question for many dog owners, especially those who’ve had their companion for all or most of the pet’s life span. Our experts say between 7 and 8 years old is an appropriate time for small or medium-sized breeds to make the change, while large breeds can be switched as early as 5 or 6. These are the ages where pets start to slow down, experience changes in their energy requirements, and may benefit from a change in their diet. This can be a moving target depending on the specific dog, so it’s a good idea to consult your vet as well.

What ingredients and benefits should I look for?

To support these changes in your companion, senior dog food recipes often contain more moderate levels of fat to help manage a healthy weight during a less active life stage. When checking ingredients, also keep an eye out for ingredients like Glucosamine and Chondroitin, which can help support hip and joint health.

High-fiber ingredients are also key for senior dog diets. Dietary fiber helps keep your companion regular by supporting the digestive system, while also strengthening the immune function in their belly. Fiber is also a ‘bulky’ ingredient in food, meaning it can help them feel fuller for longer. Typical high-fiber ingredients in senior dog recipes include peas, apples, potatoes, and carrots, along with oats, barley, nuts, and wheat flour.

How much and how often should I feed my senior dog?

We usually recommend that adult dogs get fed twice a day, about 12 hours apart. This schedule should stay the same even as they progress into old age. As a senior pet parent, you’ll actually want to pay more attention to the nutrient density than you will to quantity, as your portion recommendations may change with the transition to a senior recipe. Body score charts are helpful for keeping tabs on your companion’s body weight, and VCA recommends using a measuring cup or kitchen scale to properly control each day’s meal portions.

What else do I need to know?

Oral health can play a big role in your dog’s eating habits as they age. In senior dogs, teeth and gum problems can show up in ways like no longer wanting to fetch or tug on toys while playing, and of course refusing to eat, even at their regularly scheduled mealtimes. Luckily, many wet food recipes for senior dogs — including those by NOW FRESH — are a great option for senior dogs with oral issues.

Talk to your vet right away if your dog does display some signs of dental distress. Some pets just do not like having their teeth brushed, but you can also try dental treats and toys to maintain oral hygiene.

It’s no small feat being a senior pet parent, but as long as you follow this advice, your loyal companion should stay healthy and happy into their golden years! For more information, please visit nowfresh.com/good-reads-for-dogs.

Submitted by the NOW FRESH Nutrition Team

About NOW FRESH
Since 2007, NOW FRESH has provided pet parents the ultimate peace of mind knowing they’re feeding their cherished companions perfectly balanced recipes tailored to their specific size and age, to help them live long, healthy, and happy lives. NOW FRESH is part of the Petcurean family of premium-quality pet food products. For more information, visit www.nowfresh.com.