As our dogs grow older, it's quite common for their dietary preferences and needs to change. Our vets in veterinary Los Angeles County provide insights into caring for aging pets and recommend the ideal dog food for senior dogs.
At what age is my older dog considered elderly or geriatric?
Every dog is unique, and how long they live depends on their breed and size. Generally, smaller dogs tend to live longer, usually around 15 to 20 years, while larger dogs usually live for about 12 to 15 years.
In terms of aging, larger dogs age faster and are considered 'older' at around 6 years old, while smaller dogs typically enter middle age when they're around 8 years old.
Do senior dogs have special nutritional needs?
Remember two key factors when choosing the right food for your older dog. First, as dogs get older, their metabolism slows down, similar to people.
To prevent your senior dog from gaining too much weight, controlling their calorie intake is important. Second, ensure their diet includes plenty of high-fiber options.
Constipation can be painful and lead to more serious gastrointestinal problems in older dogs. Opt for senior dog food with ample fiber content to support their overall health.
What health issues will the best dog food for senior dogs help prevent and treat?
For senior dogs with health issues like diabetes, liver disease, or kidney failure may need special diets that can help to keep their condition under control. It's always best to consult with your veterinarian about your pup's dietary requirements if they are ill and you are concerned about the impact of your pet's diet.
Dogs who have or are at elevated risk for heart disease benefit from lower-calorie senior dog foods that help keep their weight down; low-sodium recipes are preferable.
At Animal Hospital of Redondo Beach, our vets recommend that owners of either diabetic or pre-diabetic dogs select food that can slow the absorption of their diet. Special diabetic diets tend to raise blood sugar levels slower and reduce the chance of impactful health complications in dogs suffering from diabetes. These diets are very low in fat and exceptionally high in fiber. We recommend talking to your vet, who can provide dietary recommendations for your senior or otherwise diabetic dog.
Many senior dog food brands make a point to include higher-quality protein sources than standard dog food; this helps senior dogs maintain healthy body weight without putting unneeded strain on their aging kidneys.
As previously mentioned, constipation is a common struggle for older dogs, the high amount of fiber present in the best dog food for older dogs helps to prevent constipation and keep their bowel movements regular.
What should I do if my senior dog won't eat their dog food?
It's common for older dogs to have a reduced appetite. Sudden appetite loss can have various causes, ranging from minor issues like stomach problems or more serious concerns like cancer.
If your older dog has suddenly stopped eating without a clear reason, consult your vet to rule out serious conditions like dental problems, diabetes, kidney issues, or cancer.
Once severe health problems are ruled out, consider that your dog's taste may have changed. To make their dry kibble more appealing, you can add chicken broth, water, or a small amount of canned food. Alternatively, try making a simple meal of cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice, which are both nutritious and gentle on the stomach if your older dog is feeling queasy.
Is prescription dog food the best dog food for older dogs?
Depending on their situation, prescription dog food may be the right choice for your pup. In some cases, the best food for your senior dog is indeed prescription. In other cases, switching to a healthier alternative will be more than sufficient.
Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs
The team at Animal Hospital of Redondo Beach has compiled a list of some of the best dog food brands for senior dogs, all of which are available from our online store and pharmacy. Ask your vet what senior dog food is best for your pet.
Hill's® Science Diet® Dog Senior 11+ Adult Small Paws™ Dry dog food provides precisely balanced, easy-to-digest nutrition tailored to older small & toy breed dogs.
Recommended for senior dogs 11+ years of age. This diet contains 4.6 cups of food per pound.
Contains a patented kibble texture, with added antioxidants plus a natural source of glucosamine. Perfect nutrition for adult and senior dogs. Awarded the VOHC ® Seal of Acceptance
Purina Veterinary Diets® DH® Dental Health Canine Formula and DH® Small Bites Canine Formula have been formulated to provide complete and balanced nutrition for adult and senior dogs while providing the following characteristics: Optimal kibble size, Patented kibble texture, Added antioxidants A and E, Natural source of glucosamine, Moderate calories, Exceptional palatability, and Perfect solution for everyday feeding of adult and senior dogs.
Medium-sized dogs are famous for their seemingly endless energy, but as they grow into their senior years, they've probably slowed down a bit, and so has their body. With age comes the probability of a dulling coat and a decrease in energy—sometimes even in appetite. But with a right-sized diet tailor-made for the nutritional needs of senior dogs, your dog can thrive. This Royal Canin Medium Aging Adult 10+ senior dry dog food is made to support your older dog's vitality.
Large breed dogs are treasured for being hard-working animals and loyal family companions. But as they age, their nutritional needs change. Their large bodies can benefit from an age- and size-specific diet that can help keep them happy and healthy. Royal Canin Large Aging 8+ dry dog food (formerly Maxi Aging 8+) is tailored to support your big senior dog's vitality.
Hill's Science Diet Mature Adult, canned dog food has all the nutrients, vitamins, minerals, and calories your senior dog needs to help him stay fit and healthy throughout his senior years. Made in the USA with global ingredients you can trust, these foods also use clinically proven antioxidants for a healthy immune system. Open up a can and serve either one of these mouthwatering entrées as a balanced meal or try on top of Science Diet dry dog food.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.