Canine Geriatric Nutrition

Canine Geriatric Nutrition

Most of us love to eat and many of our dogs also live by their love of food.  Nutrition is very important for the working dog but it is equally as important upon retirement when they are moving into their senior years.  

As we all age our bodies change.  In dogs we know they get a big more “grey”, their coats often aren’t as shiny and they will lose muscling. Internally their organs will change, they sleep more and may have undiagnosed or diagnosed diseases as complicating factors.   This will affect how we should feed our senior dogs. 

A few key things to remember when feeding your retired dog:

  1. Senior dogs need more water in general
  2. They may need even more water if on certain medications that might make them thirsty or pee more 
  3. Their protein requirement may go up actually, not down. Most people assume it’s the opposite. They need to be able to maintain their muscles when naturally at this stage there will be some loss. 
  4. There is some research that indicates we should feed food that has some increased medium chain triglycerides to help with cognitive decline
  5. Maintenance energy requirements drop, which means they don’t need as many calories as a younger more active dog. We don’t want obese seniors affecting their mobility issues. 
  6. Older dogs are prone to constipation so added dietary fibre may be helpful 
  7. Don’t forget grain free diets have been linked to cardiac disease so chat with your vet if you feed a grain free food. 
  8. Using toys to feed your dog may keep their brain engaged. Freeze the Kong with wet food in it or use a maze bowl or even a ball that dispenses food. These aren’t just for puppies!

The following organization has some great nutritional information as it is very hard sometimes to compare one food to another!