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Senior Dog Food: When to Make the Switch

As dogs enter their senior years, their dietary needs may change. This is completely normal and, luckily, there’s an easy change you can make to ensure your senior dog has what they need nutritionally.

An older dog’s diet doesn’t really require more effort – just a change in food! Here are some reasons dogs need senior dog food and signs that your best friend might benefit from a change in diet.

Why do older dogs need senior dog food?

The dietary needs of animals change over time due to age, activity level and overall health. For example, puppies require a diet different than adult (also called second-life-stage) dogs, and adult dogs require a diet different than a senior (or third-life-stage) dogs.

Our senior pets undergo metabolic, immunologic and body composition changes. These changes may be unavoidable, but you can help your dog by switching them to a senior diet.

What does that mean? It means when dogs reach their senior years, they may need food with more protein and fiber, and less fat; with glucosamine and/or fatty acids such as DHA and EPA.

You can also find issues that address your pet’s specific health needs! You can purchase dog foods that are made specifically for dogs with diabetes, tooth decay or loss, or other health problems that your dog may face in their senior years. At your next visit to the vet, ask your vet about how you can supplement your dog’s current health regimen with special foods. It’s also smart to do some research of your own—there are so many different types of dog food for older dogs on the market, and it’s good to know what you’re looking for.

Signs that your furry friend needs senior dog food

1. Your dog is showing visible signs of aging

The term “senior” can describe a pet that is aging, but there is no exact age range that defines a dog’s life stage. If your dog is between 5-10 years of age and you start noticing changes in weight, changes in sleeping pattern, drinking patterns, and deterioration of their overall body composition, you might have a dog that is considered “senior”.

2. Your dog is experiencing weight changes

Some older dogs might become obsessed with food and begin gaining weight, while others have the opposite issue and become fussy eaters over time. If you don’t already, keep an eye on your dog’s eating habits and body weight.

Another thing to watch (or smell!) for? A gassy dog. Senior pets might develop digestive issues such as flatulence of upset stomachs. These dogs might be a good candidate for a senior formula to meet their needs and address any dietary challenges.

3. Your dog’s behavior has changed

You might notice your dog’s behavior is a little “off”—they’re sleeping more and have less energy, or they’re unwilling to do activities they used to enjoy—they might be entering their senior years. Give them longer periods of interrupted rest and consider talking to your veterinarian about switching to senior pet food.

Switching your dog from an adult diet to a senior diet might deter expensive vet bills, but most importantly, it will make for a comfortable older dog that is getting the nutrients they need to age gracefully.

Sources:

https://www.petmd.com/dog/care/evr_dg_defining_senior_age_in_dogs

https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Caring-for-an-Older-Pet-FAQs.aspx

https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/guide/senior-dog-food#1

https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/nutrition/nutrition-and-supplements-for-senior-dogs/