As your dog ages, it is important to take steps to keep her healthy. Here's what you need to know:
Signs of Aging in Dogs
To determine your dog’s age, veterinarians will focus on her physiological condition. (Forget the adage about multiplying her age by seven.) They find that small and medium breeds begin to show signs of aging at about seven years; large and giant breeds shows signs of aging at about five years. Telltale signs may include a dull or dry coat, flaky skin, joint stiffness, energy loss, weight gain, increased water intake, digestive problems, frequent constipation and loss of muscle. These may signal the body's inability to rejuvenate its cells.
While genetics and the dog's environment play a large role in how quickly she'll age, her health is also up to you. This includes feeding her a high quality premium dog food like Eukanuba Senior Maintenance Formula. Good nutrition can help your older dog:
- Maintain muscle tone
- Maximize digestion
- Retain ideal body weight
The Senior Dog’s Diet
Regardless of their age, all dogs need quality food. But as they get older, certain nutrients can be enhanced to promote their health. When shopping for food to care for your senior dog, look for:
- High Quality Protein: Much of your dog’s food should be made up of protein derived from an animal source — chicken liver, for example. Quality protein is critical because the body uses it to build and maintain muscle. For more information on the importance of high quality protein and how to determine if it’s in your brand, see How to Choose the Best Protein for Your Dog and How to Choose the Best Protein for Your Dog
- Fat: Choose a food with at least 10 percent fat. This promotes healthy skin and coat; it also provides the body’s essential fatty-acid requirements. (Never eliminate fat completely.)
- Fiber: Pick a brand that offers no more than 5 percent fiber, the optimal amount for a healthy gut. It enables excellent nutrient absorption and helps push small, firm stool through the intestines.
- Antioxidants: These molecules protect the immune system by ridding the body of free radicals which corrupt cell membranes and DNA.
Why Taste Matters to Senior Dogs
As dogs age, they may become less interested in eating. They might not be burning the same amount of energy, so their appetite decreases. Or they're suffering from gum disease or have loose teeth, making it uncomfortable or painful to chew. (Learn more by reading Why Is Dental Hygiene For Your Dog So Important?) If they’re eating less food, they may not be getting the nutrition their bodies need for healthy living. That’s why it is key to find a nutrient-packed formula that your dog enjoys. At Eukanuba, we've done extensive research with real dogs to see what they like to eat, and we've come up with an aroma, taste and texture they love. We’ve been careful, too, to use only natural flavor enhancers and colors so that you’re assured your dog is getting our very best — and nothing more.
Timed Feedings for Your Senior Dog
Because aging dogs generally eat less than their younger canine friends, it could be helpful to provide two or three meals each day. Try a morning/evening schedule or a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner. That way, the food in the dish isn't so overwhelming, and it’s fresher and more appealing. Timed feedings have the added benefit of increasing her metabolism, which will help her maintain her ideal weight.
While the calendar might say that your dog is ready for retirement, her body needn’t be. By feeding her a diet of premium dog food specially formulated for her age, you’ll help keep her active, healthy and happy.