July 20, 2018 5 min read

Table of Contents

Your dog's eating habits and dietary requirements change as he gets older, so it's important to assess his diet and take care of his nutritional needs in his senior years. In this postwe'll take a look at some of the changes that can take place in your dog's body as he ages, and give you some practical tips and advice to help you choose the best dog food for senior dogs. 

Senior Dogs and Weight Control

Older dogs tend to be less active in their senior years and can become prone to obesity if their diet is not properly controlled. If your dog is very active and remains at a healthy weight, you can continue to feed him the same amount. But if he shows signs of slowing down or starts to gain weight, a change in diet is appropriate. 

There is a lot of confusion out there with animal nutrition these days. Most people are in agreement that you need to avoid corn and wheat fillers as they add little nutritional value to the doggy diet. Raw diets are a huge trend right now and many believe they are here to stay. 

Most older dogs require low-calorie diets to help them stay healthy and in shape. Specially formulated senior dog foods can be a good solution for older dogs with weight control issues. They are generally low in calories, high in fiber, and contain adequate levels of protein and fat to support your dog's overall health. Despite the fact that they are low in calories, many senior dog foods are formulated to help your dog feel satisfied and full. 

Before making the switch to a senior dog food, it's always a good idea to consult with your veterinarian. Feeding your dog a smaller quantity of the food he's used to may be a better course of action. 

Most senior dogs can gain weight rapidly, so it's important to go easy on the treats and snacks. Many commercial dog treats are high in calories, so it's best to avoid them unless you're sure the treats you're giving your dog are healthy. The same goes for table scraps. A lot of the foods humans eat are high in fat, salt, sugar, and calories and can be very unhealthy for our four-legged friends. 

Small amounts of fruits and vegetables make a good alternative to unhealthy snacks and treats. Fruits are generally higher in calories than vegetables, so limit the amount of fruit you feed your senior dog. Healthy fruits include apples, which are low in calories and a great source of vitamins A and C, and blueberries, which are rich in fiber and antioxidants. 

Healthy vegetables include pumpkin, which is full of nutrients and vitamins and can help maintain your dog's digestive system. Sweet potatoes are also a good option. They’re low in fat and contain healthy vitamins and fiber. 

Some fruits and vegetables are toxic to dogs, and should always be avoided. Grapes and raisins, onions and garlic, rhubarb, and raw potatoes are common examples of foods that can be very dangerous for dogs. 

Common Health Problems in Senior Dogs

So far in this post, we've looked at some of the key considerations to make when choosing the best dog food for senior dogs.

All senior dogs have different dietary requirements, and no single type of food will be right for every dog. In this section of the post we'll outline some of the health issues your dog may face as he ages, and look at how supplementing your dog's diet can help maintain his health in his senior years. 

Common health problems in older dogs include cognitive dysfunction, arthritis, hip and joint problems, diabetes, kidney disease, cancer, and heart disease. Dogs with specific medical problems may need a specially formulated diet to manage their health. Ask your veterinarian for dietary advice if your dog is suffering from an age-related illness. 

How to detect and respond to dog pain

Supplements for Senior Dogs

If you follow the blog here at BuddyRest, you probably already know how an orthopedic dog bed can benefit your senior dog. Providing a supportive dog memory foam dog bedis critical. However, it is only part of the solution. Veterinarians suggest a multi-modal treatment plan for senior dogs that would include supplements.  There are several supplements that are very beneficial for senior dogs. Let's take a brief look at some of the most useful. 

Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can support your senior dog's overall health. Benefits include improved brain function, better skin and coat health, and reduced inflammation. You can find the best Omega fatty acids in salmon oil for dogs.

Learn more about Salmon Oil for Dogs

Glucosamine and chondroitin are beneficial for dogs with joint problems such as canine arthritis. Many dogs also suffer from hip dysplasia and supplements such as these can help lubricate the joints, replace lost joint fluid, and reduce pain. 

Probiotic supplements are also a good choice for senior pets. They help regulate the "good" bacteria in your dog's gut and keep their digestive system running smoothly. And since most of your dog's immune system is located in the gut, the digestive function is very important to their overall health and well being. 

Coconut oil is one of the best natural supplements for dogs and its benefits are highlighted in this article:

Coconut Oil for Dogs - The Ultimate Guide

What If My Dog Refuses to Eat?

Weight gain and obesity is a common problem in older dogs, but some senior dogs may lose interest in food and start to lose weight rapidly.

Loss of appetite can be a symptom of serious illness – so it's best not to take any chances. Take your dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible if he refuses food. A complete veterinary checkup can rule out serious illness or disease as an underlying cause. 

Dental problems are very common in senior dogs and can explain their lack of interest in food. Dry food, in particular, can cause pain and discomfort when chewed if your dog has oral health problems such as broken teeth, cavities, or gum disease.

A good oral hygiene routine and regular visits to your veterinarian are the best line of defense against health complications caused by poor oral health in senior dogs. 

7 Warning signs that your dog is in pain

Wrapping Up

As we mentioned earlier in this post, senior dogs have a variety of different dietary requirements, so it's best to consider the individual needs of your dog as he ages. 

Dogs of all ages thrive on a balanced, nutritious diet, so take care to avoid cheap processed foods and choose a high-quality dog food that will deliver the nutrients your dog needs to maintain optimum health. 

Keeping your dog mentally and physically active is also incredibly beneficial to his overall health. Be sure to keep a regular exercise schedule – even in your dog's senior years. 

Lastly, don't underestimate the importance of regular health screenings for senior dogs. Many illnesses and health conditions can be treated effectively if identified early on, so it's vital to visit your veterinarian at least twice a year – more if your pet has ongoing health issues. Once again a multi-modal approach is what is recommended to keep senior dogs happy and healthy. A combination of the right memory foam dog bed, natural supplements and proper diet can make a significant difference in the golden years of your senior pup.



Richard Rowlands
A freelance writer specializing in the pet industry  .