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As dogs age, their nutritional needs change, and they may require a different diet to maintain their health and wellbeing. Senior dogs are typically reported to need food that is 20-30% lower in calories, higher in fibre, and contains specific ingredients that promote joint health, heart health, and overall vitality but is this really true?
So, when should you switch your dog to senior dog food? And what is ideal senior dog food? Here are some factors to consider:
Age of your dog
Dogs are typically considered seniors when they reach 11-12 years of age for smaller breeds, while larger breeds are considered seniors around 8 years of age. Generally, larger breeds are considered seniors at an earlier age than smaller breeds. However, the age at which a dog becomes a senior can vary depending on its breed and size. If your dog is fed a processed canned or kibble diet, they will show signs of ageing much earlier than those feeding a more bioavailable diet such as raw or gently cooked (assuming its a complete and balanced diet).
Weight and body condition
Obesity is a common health issue in senior dogs. If your dog is overweight or obese, it may be time to switch to senior dog food as senior dog food is typically lower in calories and higher in fibre, which can help your dog feel full without overeating. Alternatively, you can switch to a low carb diet which will keep your dog satiated and energised with healthy proteins and fats. Feeding your dog a diet that is appropriate for their weight and body condition can help prevent obesity and other related health issues.
As dogs age, they may become less active and require fewer calories. If your senior dog is less active than they used to be, they may not need as much food as they did when they were younger. Senior dog food is formulated to meet the lower energy needs of older dogs and may be appropriate for a less active senior dog. Alternatively you can make sure your dog’s joints are protected by giving a diet or supplements high in omega 3 fatty acids, amino acids and high quality protein, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium and manganese and zinc. If the joints don’t degrade as quickly then an older dog may not “act” old and maintain an active lifestyle.
Ingredients in senior dog food
Senior dog food could contain specific ingredients that promote joint health, heart health, and overall vitality. For example, glucosamine and chondroitin are commonly added to senior dog food to help maintain joint health and mobility. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish oil, can help promote heart health and cognitive functions. Antioxidants, such as vitamin E and beta-carotene, can help support a healthy immune system. An example of senior dog food which consists of these ingredients is PetCubes’ Senior Dog Food range.
When you switch to senior dog food, you want to make sure that the food you choose has the appropriate ingredients that meet your dog's individual needs. It is essential to read the label and choose a senior dog food that is appropriate for your dog's age, size, and health condition.
How to switch to senior dog food
If you decide to switch to senior dog food, it is crucial to make the transition gradually to avoid digestive upset. Sudden changes in diet can lead to diarrhoea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal issues. You should start by mixing a small amount of senior dog food into your dog's current food and gradually increase the amount over several days. This gradual transition will allow your dog's digestive system to adjust to the new food.5
It is worth noting that while senior dog food can be beneficial for many senior dogs, it may not be appropriate for all dogs. Some dogs may have specific health and dietary requirements that cannot be met with senior dog food, and in some cases, regular adult dog food may be more appropriate.
Additionally, if your dog has dental issues or difficulty chewing, senior dog food may not be the best option. As with any dietary change, it is important to consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your dog's diet. Your veterinarian can provide guidance on the best diet for your senior dog and help you make an informed decision.
In conclusion, switching to senior dog food is an important decision that should be made based on several factors, including age, health status, weight and body condition, activity level, as well as ingredients in senior dog food. In summary, it is essential to consult with your veterinarian to determine when to switch to senior dog food and what type of food is appropriate for your dog's individual needs. When you make the switch, it is important to do so gradually to avoid digestive upset. With the right food and care, your senior dog can enjoy a happy and healthy life.
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