Just like people, dogs don’t need the same diet as they had when they were growing and much more active. Older dogs need a less caloric diet in order to prevent obesity, a common ailment in aging dogs due to the lack of exercise. What is considered an old dog? An old dog is one that has lived half of their life span already. A small dog’s life span is 15 to 20 years, so they would be considered “old” at about 8-9 years old. A large dog’s life span, however, is 12 to 15 years thus, they would be considered “old” at 6-7 years old.
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Even though it may seem easy to just give your dog less food, it isn’t that simple. Since an older dog has to maintain their strength and immune system, their diet has to be more geared towards antioxidants and omega-3. While you can find supplements for dogs to get enough antioxidants and omega-3, the best results come from when a dog is eating appropriate foods.
A great way to increase antioxidants in a dog’s diet is to give them fruit such as blueberries and apples. When feeding you dog fruits, be sure to not feed them any seeds or pits. Cyanide is found in both the pits of fruits, including peaches and cherries, and the seeds of apples. For a human, it is okay if you accidentally swallow a couple seeds but for a dog it can be more dangerous. To increase omega-3 in your dog’s diet, it is great to add egg or salmon to your dogs diet. For both of those foods, be sure to fully cook them as raw egg or salmon can be sickly for your dog (and you!).
As some dogs age, they lose their appetite. It is important that they still eat, even if they aren’t active. The cause of a lost appetite varies but it can be a sign of an underlying health concern. If you see that your dog is not eating much, make sure to consult your veterinarian. Enticing your dog to eat can be hard. A great tactic to get your dog to eat is by changing the food you offer them. Ways to do this include:
- Adding warm water or chicken broth to their food
- Dry food can be less enticing to older dogs so by adding the warm liquid it’s as if it’s something new!
- Adding a small amount of wet dog food to the dry dog food
- Cooking food for your dog
- When you cook for your dog, they will smell it throughout the house. This can excite them about eating. Also by cooking for your dog, the food will have extra TLC and make your dog happier.
- Adding flavor enhancers to the food
- Giving your dog appetite stimulants
- This is suggested as a last resort. Consult your veterinarian before use.
For every aging dog, no matter their size, hydration is key. This is because dogs lose their ability to maintain a water balance as they get older.
In conclusion, it is important that older dogs have a different diet as they age because their bodies are changing. To keep up with the change it is important to make sure your dog stays hydrated, gets enough antioxidants and omega-3, and eats in order to maintain a healthy body weight. Consult your veterinarian about any changes in your dog’s diet or appetite.
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