Based in Newnan and Peachtree City, Georgia - serving Fayette and Coweta Counties

Top Nutrition Tips for Senior Dogs (part 1)


We all know how essential it is to eat right to stay healthy, but the impact of nutrition on senior dogs’ health is ever more significant.

Just ask Dr. Barbara Royal, a veterinarian with over 25 years of experience who has seen many cases of canine heart disease during her career.

She says that when older pets are fed diets high in fat, they can develop heart disease much earlier than dogs of the same age fed low-fat diets.

This is why Royal strongly recommends that owners of senior pets follow these six nutrition tips to help their best friend lead a healthier life:


Feed lower-calorie, high-quality dog food.

We all eat too much and often eat the wrong things. The same is true for our pets, although most of us may not realize it in the case of our dogs and cats since they don’t overeat in an attempt to clean their plates.

Instead, many overfeed their pets out of love or habit. Fancy that! That’s why Royal recommends following these simple steps when shopping for senior dog food:


Select healthy treats for dogs

Royal believes that treats should be limited to 10 percent of a pet’s daily calorie intake, so the fewer, the better! Instead, she recommends using table scraps as rewards during training sessions because many owners are less likely to reward their dogs with unhealthy snacks.


Take your older dog to the vet regularly

Royal recommends that owners have their older dogs examined by a veterinarian twice a year, at least.

That way, any health problems that are developing could be caught before they become significant issues.

It’s also essential to bring your dog to the vet whenever he seems sick or has recently changed his regular behavior pattern.


Control obesity

Obesity can lead to numerous health problems, including arthritis and diabetes. Senior dogs are at greater risk of becoming obese because they usually have less energy to burn extra calories. That’s why Royal recommends learning more about portion control and training games.


Don’t allow your senior dog to eat cat food


Because cats are obligate carnivores, they require diets high in protein, challenging for dogs’ systems to digest.

Avoid fatty table scraps and corn-based treats.

Senior dogs can suffer from various health problems, and corn and table scraps don’t contribute to the solution.

Table scraps can lead to stomach upsets, food allergies, and obesity because owners often dole out too much for their pets.

While we may enjoy feeding our pets leftover chicken, it’s also vital that senior dogs not eat meat that has been cured or preserved with sodium nitrites, such as bacon and ham.

Royal says that dogs can’t digest salt or meat preservatives very well at all. That’s why she recommends sticking with fresh meats rather than cooked meats when cooking for your pet.


Here are some additional things to consider with senior dogs:


  1. Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight – A dog is considered obese when she weighs more than 20% of her ideal body weight.

Consult with your veterinarian about how much you should feed your dog each day, and get help from a pet food advisor if necessary.

If your dog is overweight, you can try switching to a lower-calorie food.


  1. Introduce new foods gradually – Adding new flavors and textures too quickly may cause gastrointestinal upset in your older dog, so look for small changes that are less likely to be noticed by your pet.


  1. Add natural supplements – If your senior dog is having trouble getting around, the addition of joint-support supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can help.


  1. Be watchful for anemia – An anemic dog may be lethargic and may tire more easily. Anemia in dogs can be brought on by several factors, including blood loss due to wounds, the ingestion of toxins, or internal parasites.


  1. Check for gum disease – Your dog’s gums may be red and inflamed if she has a periodontal infection, leading to a loss of her teeth and a painful death by starvation since chewing is too painful. If you’re unable to brush your dog’s teeth yourself, consult your veterinarian about a safe and effective home care program to manage your dog’s periodontal disease.


  1. Watch out for urinary tract infections – A common sign of a urinary tract infection in dogs is frequently urinating, often in the house. In addition to frequent potty breaks, watch for an unwillingness to play or romp as well as visible pain when your dog begins to urinate.


  1. Exercise is essential – Even if your senior pooch has slowed down, she still needs regular exercise to keep muscles toned and joints healthy. Gentle walks are best for aging dogs, so use a leash to assist her in climbing or jumping activities.


  1. Take care of your dog’s teeth – If your dog’s constant chewing has caused painful dental disease, you may need to consult with an oral surgeon.


  1. Just like us, dogs need medical care throughout their lives – Don’t neglect regular checkups or necessary vaccinations just because your dog is older. Disease and illness don’t discriminate based on age, so keep her healthy and happy throughout her life.


  1. Consider pet insurancePet insurance generally costs between $9 and $15 per month and can save you money in the long run if your dog does require expensive medical care.

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