Older dogs need specific nutritional requirements. Here are some tips to choose a correct diet.
Older dogs can benefit from specialised food that is tailored to meet the nutritional needs of senior dogs. Senior animals can expend less energy, and so need a lower calorie intake in order to not gain weight. Here is some advice to make their lives easier and ensure that they’re treated in the way they deserve.
Changes that affect nutrition for older dogs
Older dogs are still dogs (Canis lupus familiaris), and as such have many of the same nutritional needs as their younger counterparts. Both puppies and older dogs need a complete and balanced diet where the nutrients are tailored to meet the requirements of their lifestage and lifestyle. However, there are differences in their needs for certain nutrients. The energy requirements of older dogs are lower. There are two reasons for this:
- They often do less exercise, move less and play less than they used to.
- Their baseline metabolic rate may slow down
Of course, there are differences between breeds, and also between dogs of the same breed, but as a rule older dogs need around 30–40% less energy than younger dogs.
On the other hand, older dogs may have a weaker immune system, less capacity to absorb nutrients in their diet, their joints are not in such good condition.
For all these reasons, older dogs require specialised food.
Choose a diet suitable for older dogs
When it comes to choosing the best diet for older dogs, look for one that is made with ingredients that are easy to digest to help the dog absorb the nutrients available in the diet.
Not all protein is the same quality. In the case of older dogs, who can sometimes start to suffer from loss of lean muscle mass with age, it’s important that the protein source in their food contains high-quality and bioavailable protein.
- Chelated minerals: these kinds of minerals enable nutrients to be absorbed more easily.
- Natural antioxidants: these help to maintain a strong, healthy immune system
- Highly appetising: some older dogs lose their appetite. That’s why, in this stage of their lives, it’s so important that the food we offer is tempting for them.
Beyond food, older dogs need special care because, just like people, they are more likely to develop illnesses. They are, after all, cherished members of the family, and they deserve our appreciation for all the love that they have given us throughout their lives.