All About Senior Dog Food & Nutrition (FAQ’s & TIPS)

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All About Senior Dog Food & Nutrition (FAQ’s & TIPS)

Better health care, nutrition, and genetic background have added to an increasing life span in dogs.

The goals of nutrition in the senior dog are:

  • Diminish the signs of aging
  • Slow metabolic processes related with aging
  • Improve the quality of life
  • Increase life span
best senior dog food

1. At what age should I offer my dog a senior dog food?

Dogs of different breeds mature at different rates.

So dogs are considered to be senior at different ages based on size.

Small breeds of dogs can live longer than large or giant breeds of dogs.

Dog Breed Senior Age
Small and medium dogs (<  50 lb) 11-15 years
Large dogs (50 – 90 lb) 9 years
Giant dogs (>90 lb) 7.5 years

2.What are the more prevalent health problems in older dogs?

Older dogs can suffer from a huge variety of health problems.

The main causes of death in the senior dog are:

  • Cancer: nutrition depends on the type of cancer; generally a dog with cancer may not want to eat, or his appetite seems to fade away, you should choose a high palatable dog food.
  • Kidney disease: choose a food that has reduced levels of phosphorus.
  • Heart disease: pick a low sodium dog food brands.

3. Does my senior dog have the tendency to become overweight?

The resting metabolic rate progressively slows down with age due to a loss of lean body tissue and an increase in body fat.

The decrease in metabolic rate can lead to weight gain in the senior dog.

Thus, senior dogs have a tendency to become overweight, so the fat content of the diet should be adequate but not excessive.

Fat contents in diets for senior dogs should vary from 7% to 15%, depending on body condition.

4. How should I choose the best food for my senior dog?

You should look for dog foods containing:

  • Complex carbohydrates which have a low glycemic index, such as whole grains and vegetables
  • Easily-digested protein such as lean meat
  • A moderate amount of healthy fats (10 – 15%)
  • Essential fatty acids like linoleic and alpha-linoleic acid
  • Minerals and vitamins, including zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, B, D,E and K

The choice of your senior dog’s nutrition should be mostly based on your dog’s general health.

Tips to ensure your dog leads a long and happy life:

  • Exercise is very important. Make sure your dog gets lots of quality outdoor time like heart-healthy walking and running.
  • Feeding a grain-free diet can help to prevent inflammation.
  • Offer him healthy treats like veggies such as celery, carrot, broccoli and cauliflower.
  • Maintain oral health. Try brushing your dog’s teeth with an appropriate dog tooth paste.
  • Regular veterinarian check-ups.
  • Stress is a silent killer. Love your dog, make him feel great, spend as much quality time with him as possible and provide a fluffy and supportive bed for him to rest comfortably.

Senior dogs need more attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible nutritional adaptations, and in some cases alterations to their home environment.


About the Author:

Hi! I'm Dora Mancha, DVM. I am graduated for the Veterinary Medicine Faculty of Lisbon (2009). My degree is recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). I completed my degree in Veterinary Medicine in July, 2009. Over the first years as a veterinarian my work was closely related to the animal health field. I have gained some average experience having worked in Barcelona University (UAB) Equine Hospital and by working with veterinarians in Portugal. In addition, in 2009 - 2010 I was in Madrid at the University Alfonso X el Sábio doing an internship in the equine service. I am also very interested in small animal medicine and surgery. In fact I worked in several small animals clinics in Portugal improving my knowledge about small animal behavior and health. Dogs always have been present in my life, since I was a child. At the present moment I have four dogs a Labrador, a Epagnheul Breton, a Whippet and a mixed breed dog.

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Why was the Dog Food Selector created?

Each dog has unique needs... The approach "one food for all dogs" isn't the more suitable. Dogs have different sizes, different life stages, unique breed characteristics, health conditions and a few other factors... Choosing the right food for your dog may help him or her life a longer and healthier life! We exist to make that task easier for you.

How does the Dog Food Selector work?

It's quite simple... It's a 1-2 step process. You just have to fill in the form with your dog's characteristics, like gender, age, size, activity, health conditions and a few other important data and click "search". Then, you'll see a list of dog foods with the highest review score. If you wish you can see all the detailed review of each individual dog food.