By Dr. Eva Evans, a veterinarian and writer for the pet health insurance agency, Pets Best.
As dogs enter their golden years, their nutritional needs change as well. Here are four tips to keep your young-at-heart senior dog healthy.
1. Consider Calories
Some senior dogs tend to become obese as they age due to decreased physical activity and a slower metabolism. If your senior dog is overweight, it may be time to swap to a diet dog food. On the other hand, some senior dogs tend to lose weight and become very thin because they are not digesting and absorbing food as well as they used to. These dogs may need to increase their daily calories or change to a food that is more calorie dense such as a puppy food. If your senior dog is a healthy weight, there is no need to change his food. Consult with your veterinarian for a dietary recommendation based on your dog’s specific needs.
2. Make Dental Health a Priority
Most dogs needs their teeth cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler and polisher at least once a year. As dog’s age, they may need their teeth cleaned more frequently. This is especially true in small dogs such as Chihuahuas, toy poodles and terriers. If you see any brown or grey build up at the gum line, it’s time for a dental cleaning! Often times, older dogs have periodontal disease that causes painful, loose teeth that need to be extracted (removed). If your dog has dental extractions, it is best for them to eat soft food for the week following these extractions. Contrary to popular belief, dogs can eat dry food just fine, even without any teeth! There are special diets that can help keep teeth clean between cleanings called “Dental Diets,” and your vet can recommend one for your aging canine companion.
3. Incorporate Omega-3 Fatty Acids
These oils, found primarily in fish, are very helpful in aging dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to older dogs because they are natural anti-inflammatories. Adding omega-3 fatty acids to your dog’s diet can help reduce pain and inflammation from arthritis and give coats a shiny, healthy look. Consult with your veterinarian when adding in Omega-3 fatty acids to be sure that your dog is getting the right amount.
4. Consider Joint Supplements
Aging dogs often have trouble with degenerative joint disease also known as arthritis. This disease can be painful and inhibits exercise and activity. Feeding joint supplements such as MSM, Glucosamine, ASU and Chondroitin can help reduce the negative effects of arthritis and can help your senior dog live a happier, healthier life.
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