Vet advice: Senior dog food

Older dogs in a row eating their food at the school

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How to change a dog’s diet is one of the most common pet queries, especially when it comes to older pooches. What? When? How? These are all frequent questions asked to our resident vet. We’ve jotted down the 5 questions you should ask when swapping to senior dog food – but remember to discuss any dietary changes with your vet before acting.

1. Is my dog considered an older dog for their breed?

Different dog breeds age at different rates. Giant breeds, such as Great Danes will age somewhat quicker than toy and small breeds, such as Chihuahuas. For example, giant breeds can be considered senior from as early as 5–6 years old, whilst toy breeds may only be senior and need dog food for older dogs after 11-12 years old. If you’re unsure about the age of your dog and whether or not they’re considered old for their breed, your vet should be able to help.

2. What is the lifestage of my dog’s current dog food?

Be it puppy food, adult dog food, or senior dog food, the packaging of your dog’s current diet should detail the appropriate age range. This works as a handy tool for knowing when to switch your dog to their next lifestage diet. If your dog is eating an adult dog food and they have lapsed the appropriate age to feed it, you should move them on to food for older dogs, such as a mature or senior diet.

3. Does my dog have arthritis?

If your older dog is showing signs of arthritis, this may be an indicator that you should be feeding a senior dog food. Feeding an age appropriate diet can be how to help a dog with arthritis at home. Some senior dog foods support joint health whilst managing your dog’s weight at the same time. Combine this change in diet with beds for dogs with arthritis to fully support your aging pooch. Although arthritis in dogs is commonly seen in older dogs, it’s important to note that it can affect dogs of all ages. Helping dogs with arthritis may not need senior dog food, but a specialist diet that supports healthy joints.

4. Does my dog have any other age-related problems?

Besides arthritis in dogs, there are other age-related troubles that may indicate a need for food for older dogs. For example, a sensitive stomach, kidneys, or liver may mean transitioning to a sensitive senior dog food with better digestibility or limited protein and phosphorus. Your dog’s appetite may not be as good as it once was, so a senior dog food with better palatability may also help.

5. Does my dog have trouble eating?

If your dog is having trouble eating, they may:

  • Need a more appropriate dog bowl. You might find that dogs with weak legs, stiff joints, or arthritis benefit from raised dog bowls and a non-slip mat to stand on.
  • Be suffering from dental problems – a visit to the vet will confirm this. When it comes to dry dog food for older dogs, there is smaller kibble available. They might also prefer their kibble softened or mixed with a wet senior dog food.

Our articles are not a replacement for face-to-face vet advice. It’s important to consult with your vet on a regular basis to raise any pet concerns that you may have.

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