Top Benefits of Senior Dog Food

By Elijah Merrill

Top Benefits of Senior Dog Food

If your older, once active dog is experiencing weight gain or health problems, consider looking into its diet: It may be in need of a dog food that’s formulated for senior dogs. While senior formulas are nothing new, continued scientific advances lead to significant changes that are recent. For instance, senior formulas used to have greatly reduced protein content for fear that they could lead to kidney problems. But within the last decade, science has reversed the thinking in that regard, and a significant amount of protein is now a crucial aspect of senior dog food.

“The basic understanding of the science has really pushed the needle toward making food and nutrition optimal,” says Dr. Ernie Ward, a veterinarian and nutrition expert in North Carolina. “Seniors are living better than ever before. It’s never been a better time to be an old dog.”

Senior Dog Food Ingredients
Ward and Dr. Katy Johnson Nelson, a Virginia-based veterinarian, point out some key things to look for when considering a senior formula:

  • Protein: Ideally from a formulation that’s at least 24 percent and higher protein from animal sources like chicken.
  • Reduced sodium (salt): High blood pressure is a serious concern for aging dogs. While research on the effects of sodium is ongoing, few doubt that dogs should consume an appropriate, and not excessive, amount of sodium in their diets.
  • Low caloric density: Compared to adult formulas, senior formulations in general will drop 20 to 30 percent in calorie density per serving. “That’s a big difference because we get into a habit of giving a cup or a bowl per day,” says Ward. “So the food itself needs to have fewer calories in that cup or bowl.” Keep in mind, however, that senior dogs (9 years of age and older for large breeds and 11 years of age and older for small and medium breeds) may have different specific caloric needs. Consult with your veterinarian to determine what is best for your pet.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: To combat the increased inflammation that comes with aging.
  • Glucosamine and chondroitin: To combat and prevent arthritic conditions. “The only caution is that the amount of the omega-3 and glucosamine may not be adequate for a specific pet. You may need to supplement,” says Ward.

When and How to Switch Foods
Senior status for dogs is generally considered to come at age 11, but large breeds should probably switch one to two years earlier. Beyond that, the doctors say to not wait for symptoms to present themselves before switching. “This is about prevention, not just treatment,” says Ward. “Be very proactive.”

When you introduce the new food, do so gradually as an increasing percentage of a mixture with your dog’s current food. “Take at least seven to 10 days to switch your pet’s food,” says Nelson. “A fast switch can lead to significant GI upset and an aversion to the new diet.”

It’s important to remember there is no one-size-fits-all food. “There is no perfect food, but there is a food out there that is perfect for your pet,” says Nelson. “Include your veterinarian in the conversation, and you can find the food that is just right for your pup’s specific nutritional needs and health concerns.”

In the future, Ward thinks genetic profiling technology will allow veterinarians to recommend a personalized diet that best suits your dog’s unique DNA. For now, he stresses how important it is to take advantage of today’s optimized, high-quality senior dog foods. “There’s nothing better you can do to prevent disease and add longevity than choosing the right food for your pet,” he says.

Elijah Merrill is a freelance writer and frequent contributor to The Dog Daily. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine and Discover.

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Posted on March 11, 2012

Ann says: I can't answer the qeotsiun as to why they would have lied to you. I do suggest that you give the dog some time to adjust though.I would try really hard to treat her the same as the others though when it comes to food. The dog will give in a eat her food if it's her only option. The laying around may just be her age. You should have her health checked out by your vet though. Sometimes animals will not eat if there is something wrong. Check for worms in her stool. I can say I rescued my dog eight years ago, when she was two years old. From what I could tell she had never even been inside a house. She was completely untrained. She went to the bathroom inside, she chewed up shoes and even the corner of my bed. Just when I was ready to give up, she just somehow got it. She is an angel know. I can leave the hours for nine hours and go to work and she won't hurt a thing. I even have cats and she is best friends with them. Sometimes it takes time. If you need to disciple her do not hit with you hands use a newspaper to tap her or make a loud noise, like a whistle or clap. It worked for me. So did a water bottle. If yo want to try to get the dog to eat the dry food mix it with the canned and SLOWLY put less and less canned and more dry. Good luck.

Posted on March 11, 2012

Silvia says: -j: that's what the pet fee is for. Consider it the hotel's insurance plcioy: they charge $10-30 per night for a pet, and when a bad owner's pet goes insane and trashes the room, they charge the owner the deductible. I'd gladly pay because I know how my pet will behave.Owners of separation-anxiety-stricken wolfhounds can choose to buy pet-room-insurance (and risk paying the deductible); or they can leave Fido at home and save some cash; or they can get a kennel.I don't much care how bad pet owners deal with their bad pets, because ultimately I believe they're the exception, and are quite rare. You hear a lot about them, of course, because what's newsworthy about a well-behaved pet?

Posted on March 11, 2012

Jajar says: Hi, you don't say what kind of dog or how much money you have spent, BUT a rescue would cost you ayhrnewe from 100-300 usually so if you choose suck it up she needs you! I am sorry someone has mis lead happens..many BYB are notorious for lies and deceit.All they care about is the money! if nothing else maybe do your best to rehabilitate this dog and re-home it if you cannot deal with her long term! I have my fingers crossed you can do it! She needs you and you seem to want to offer her a decent home! With any luck she has had her shots and been spayed ?????? Do this feed her separately what you feed the others and put a bit of something on it to help it be appetizing to her. Take her out as if she were a puppy like every two hours praise her for good behavior..Have her health checked, I am sure those num nuts didn't give a care since she was skinny ..Was she an inside dog who knows, she was not properly socialized apparently either..I would ask for atleast some of my money back and use it for her care! I am pretty sure it won't happen even if you threaten to go to court..but it is an option! When you saw the dog you didn't say NO there is a reason..walk her sit on floor and hand out treats to her gain her trust and firendship and see how it plays out! I have a rescue who was ill treated it took him months to adjust, now he is one of the crew! i hope this happens in your household too! Good Luck! ADD:and now i am so curious about what kind of dog she is? Where i live every kind is rampant, easy to acquire although not bred well!

Posted on March 10, 2012

Murat says: In the airport, as we were going turohgh immigration, agriculture sniffing dog, a super cute beagle, after finding someone's bag with not allowed fruits and veggies was rewarded with good boy and a treat by the security guard.I think if this is what the dog that caliber is trained with, it should be enough to train most dog to obey simple commands.And good point about basically substituting food with safety from harm for your dog. Very awesome article.

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