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How to feed an elderly dog?

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Why do dogs start to gain weight as they age? What processes take place in their body? What should be the diet of an older dog to keep it active and healthy for as long as possible? Let’s talk about this in our article.

When does a dog get older?
Old age is a conventional concept. For each dog, it comes in its own time. It depends on breed characteristics, general health, quality of care throughout life, and even on the ecology of the area where the dog lives.

Large dogs, unfortunately, live less than medium and small ones. If the life expectancy of a Yorkie is 15-20 years, then the Irish wolfhound is only 8-10. Accordingly, large dogs age faster than others.

Conventionally, we can say that in miniature dogs, old age begins at 9-10 years. For middle-aged people – about 8 years old. And large dogs can be called elderly already at the age of 7.

Old age is not a sentence. This is a natural stage in the life of any pet. If you properly prepare for it and provide careful care, your pet will live happily ever after.

What do you need to know about older dogs? Increasingly, they prefer a calm walk instead of chasing a ball, they sleep more, and they move less in general. The dog can become more capricious in nutrition, change its eating habits, start to pick and choose. Over time, she may develop dental problems. The dog’s musculoskeletal system will also need support: bones, joints, and ligaments.

The main thing a responsible owner must do is to provide a complete, balanced diet. This is the foundation of the basics. Appropriate nutrition will help to avoid the overweight problems that all older dogs are prone to, and will provide the body with all the minerals and vitamins necessary at this stage.

How to feed an elderly dog?
Why do dogs gain weight as they age?
What age-related changes occur in a dog in old age?

The body begins to slow down its systems. Blood circulation and metabolism slow down. The digestive system doesn’t work as efficiently. Therefore, the energy received from food is not burned instantly, as at a younger age, but is more easily stored in the form of excess weight.

Also, females undergo hormonal changes, which also affect the slowdown of metabolism. Namely, the sex hormone estrogen is produced less, against the background of this, in some cases, the dog may even develop insulin resistance and, as a result, if the diet is not correctly selected, weight gain.

Another change in the hormonal system can lead to a sharp increase in body weight with age. For example, a malfunction of the thyroid gland develops or worsens in old age.

The stress in the life of an older dog can also lead to excess weight. If young animals lose weight from stress, then older ones, on the contrary, gain weight. This is because it is becoming more and more difficult for the body to resist the attacks of adrenaline. To cope with stress, it produces the hormone insulin, which in large quantities, when the endocrine system is disrupted in old age, contributes to the accumulation of fat.

However, the rate of metabolic processes directly depends on lifestyle and nutrition. To minimize risks and keep your dog in good health, the first step is to provide it with the right diet.
What is the best food for an elderly dog?
Choose pet food that is specially formulated for older dogs. Study the ingredients carefully: meat should come first on the list of ingredients. The feed class must be at least super-premium. This is the only way you can be sure that the ingredients in the feed are of high quality and safety.

An older dog should be rich in protein and lower in fat. With age, the body uses less energy, which means that the calorie intake for an older dog needs to be reduced. In addition, a good diet should include L-carnitine to improve fat metabolism and support the cardiovascular system. In addition, the correct ratio of omega-3 and -6 fatty acids will control inflammation and are essential for maintaining healthy skin and coat. Keeping your gut and caring for your immune system can be trusted with substances such as prebiotics.

You will not need to worry about the composition if you choose a good, complete, balanced food. It will contain everything that an elderly dog ​​needs to maintain health. You just have to follow the feeding rate and not disturb the diet.

Don’t overfeed your dog. This may cause constipation or diarrhea.

If the dog has diseases of the oral cavity and has a toothache, it is better to choose wet food for it: canned food, pates, spiders. Alternatively, you can dilute the dry food with a little lukewarm water. However, if you have any health concerns, be sure to check with your veterinarian. It is possible that the mouth problem could be a sign of some kind of internal disease that cannot be cured by the soft texture of the feed.

Feeding an elderly dog
The transition to food for senior dogs should be smooth and take at least 10 days. It is advisable to choose food for older dogs of the same brand. Different lines from the same manufacturer are better combined with each other than feed from different manufacturers. Gradually add the new diet to your dog’s usual food. First, you can add 20% new feed to 80% old. And gradually change the amount in favor of the new diet, until you completely remove the old one.

All this applies to the classic diets for older dogs, which keep the animal in a healthy state against the background of age-related changes in the body. But if the dog is already overweight or has other health problems: arthritis, kidney failure, heart disease, diabetes, etc., then the pet will need not just a diet for older dogs, but a special therapeutic diet. It will help keep the disease under control so that it does not affect the pet’s quality of life.

A therapeutic diet must be prescribed by your veterinarian.

A proper diet is the foundation of the basics of caring for an elderly pet. It is important not just to choose quality food. It is necessary to observe the feeding rate, monitor sufficient fluid intake, choose exceptionally healthy treats, and in no case indulge the dog with food from your table.

By adhering to the rules of feeding, you will give your pet the strength for an active, long, happy life.

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