Along with painful joints and less desire to move about, many elderly d 9S ^£ y ref\Jse food more often than usual. While this may be alarming for most owners, please keep in mind that,
as dogs age, their metabolism slows down, and generally their need for calories decreases. This means that you cannot feed an elderly dog the same amount you used to feed him when he was young. This is the main reason why we see so many obese elderly dogs. Below you will find various guidelines and tips for feeding your elderly dog:
- Check his mouth
More often than not, elderly dogs have a certain amount of dental decay. This decay may be the cause of a dog suddenly refusing to eat his dry food. Because of the discomfort experienced upon chewing hard kibble, some dogs may take a mouthful of food and drop some kibble here and there. Dogs suffering from dental decay also have a tendency to salivate, and you may notice a foul odor coming from their mouth.
|Feeding a senior dog may not be as simple as filling his bowl with Nbble.|
When a vet is presented with an elderly dog who has become a finicky eater or has stopped eating, the first thing he or she will do is check the mouth. In many cases a dental cleaning and possibly extractions are su9sested.If your elderly dog is in good health and his bloodwork results return negative, very likely the vet will advise that you have your dog put under
anesthesia for a dental procedure. This is a routine procedure done successfully even on senior dogs. Periodontal disease is known to cause a loss of appetite, weight loss, mouth pain, and even kidney or heart disorders.
Should your dog present some extent of periodontal disease, you can help by offering him canned food or by moistening up his dry kibble by adding a bit of warm water/broth with no onion or garlic in it. This will decrease the amount of pain, and hopefully your dog will be a bit less reluctant to eat as a result.
- Let’s Keep Things Moving
Elderly dogs are also prone to bouts of constipation. Just as in humans, their metabolism slows down and their bowel movements may begin happening every other day rather than every day. In such cases, look for a dog food with fiber. Most dog foods made especially for senior dogs do have a good amount of fiber. Always add new foods gradually. You can also help alleviate cases of constipation by adding 1— 2 teaspoons of plain canned pumpkin (not the pie version with spices in it) into your dO9 od. He witl enjoy it, and the extra fiber will help to keep things moving.
- Provide Plenty of Water
Elderly dogs need to drink a good amount of water. Entice your dog to drink by always having fresh bowls of water around the home. In some cases, having more than one water bowl around the house will remind him to drink. Water helps prevent constipation and dehydration.
However, carefully watch for signs of increased drinking and increased urination which may indicate serious disorders like kidney failure, Cushing’s disease or diabetes.
- Keep an Eye on the Scale
If your dog is obese, you want to reduce portions and add some more exemise. Overweight dogs (especially seniors) are prone to heart problems and respiratory problems. Not to mention the extra strain those excess pounds put on their joints. Ask your vet about putting your dog on a reduced calorie diet. But be aware that what may seem like obesity to you may actually be a case of ascitis (accumulation of fluid in the abdomen), suggesting heart or liver failure. Always contact your vet if your dog appears to have a pendulous, pot-bellied abdomen.
|It’s important to watch the weight of your senior dog to prevent obesity.|
Are Your Dog’s Ribs Sticking Out?
On the other hand, you want to report promp5y to your vet if your dog is losing weight. As a general rule of thumb you want to weigh your senior dog at least once a month. If there is a toss of weight have him screened for periodontal disease, kidney disease, heart disease and cancer. Always see weight toss as a red flag suggesting something may not be right.
- Two is the Magic Number
There are still myths suggesting that dogs must be fed once daily. Ideally, dogs must be fed at least twice, this particularly applies to senior dogs. Give one portion in the morning and one portion in the evening. By doing so their stomach will digest the food much better than when they are given one large, bulky meal all at once.
- Cheek Labels
Elderly dogs may need to be given a premium complete dog food or may require supplements. This is due to the fact that a senior dog’s intestinal tract may have a reduced ability to retain vitamins and minerals. Look for anti-oxidants as they combat the free radicals that speed up the aging process. Ask your veterinarian about adding anti-oxidants to your dog’s diet if the dog food you are feeding doesn’t have them listed. Common anti-oxidants are vitamin E, vitamin C, and co-enzyme Q.
- Fishy Pills
In dogs with anhritis you can consult with your vet about adding glucosamine to your dog’s diet. This supplement is very safe and effective in reducing joint pain. It is made from mussel shells so they smell very fishy! Of course dogs will eat these fishy pillc right away! Glycoflex io a popular supplement often prescribed by veterinarians. Omega-3, another supplement often sourced from fish, can also help with joint pain.
- Go Special
Some conditions that senior dogs suffer from may require a special diet. Hills has made various diets for various conditions, such as J/D standing for Joint Diet (for pets with arthritis), A/D standing for appetite diet (for anorexic dogs), B/D standing for brain diet (for dogs with age related cognitive dysfunctions), R/D standing for reduced diet (for obese dogs), and K/D standing for kidney diet (for dogs with kidney failure).
- Make Food Enticing
Some senior dogs lose some of their sense of smell. Of course, with this, their appetite may go out of the window too. Try to make food more enticing by adding a few carrots or string 6eans. You can also try microwaving some canned food to release some more scent. Adding a bit of warm broth (with no onion or gartic) to kibble may soften it up, making it appear more flavorful while providing some hydration at the same time.
As seen, feeding an elderly dog is a whole new story. But with some extra care, they may gain a few extra years and enjoy a good quality of life in their later years. Just like cars, regular tune-ups and maintenance are the key for dogs living longer lives and even aging gracefully for
many more years to come.
Disclaimer: This article is not to be used as a substitute for professional nutritional advice. By reading this article you accept this
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