Approximately 33% of the canine population is made up of senior dogs. Better nutrition and improvement to health care have contributed to this. As a dog ages, they become more vulnerable to medical conditions and diseases including kidney disease, heart disease, arthritis, and obesity. Proper nutrition can help to decrease the risk of such diseases.
Most senior dog food formulations are made up of the correct nutrient limits and ratios (carbohydrates, fats, proteins, water, vitamins, and minerals) for senior animals. They are also less calorie-dense than regular adult diets as senior pets require fewer calories. Senior diets are lower in phosphorus (which in excess impacts the kidneys) and sodium (which in excess can cause hypertension and heart disease).
Senior dogs are more prone to dehydration, therefore access to clean, freshwater is very important. Canned foods are a great option for senior dogs as they increase their water intake. Vegetables are also a healthy treat for our senior pets; water-based veggies such as cucumber, broccoli, and lettuce can help increase water intake as well without the excess calories.
Before switching to a senior diet, it is important to consult with your veterinarian to ensure a balanced and individualized diet can be chosen for your beloved family member!
Written by: Erin Gracey, RVT