All dogs are different as you know and their life expectancy varies by their breed along with other factors. You know how old your dog is, but it might be more difficult to know how well they are ageing.
Vets can look at a dog’s physical condition. They find that most dogs begin to show signs of ageing at around 7 years for small or medium breeds and around 5 years for large and giant breeds.
The tell-tale signs can include a dull, dry coat, flaky skin, joint stiffness, loss of energy, weight increase, an increase in water intake, digestive issues or loss of muscle.
While genetics and environment play a large role in how quickly or well your dog will age, you can still have a massive impact on their health.
Feeding a high-quality dog food, like Salters Senior, tailored to their needs at this life stage, you can help keep them in optimal condition.
THE RIGHT DIET FOR MATURE AND SENIOR DOGS
All dogs of any age, need the same core ingredients in their food, but as they get older they need different quantities of certain ingredients added to support their health.
The age at which your dog reaches ‘mature’ or ‘senior’ age will mostly depend on the size of their breed but, as a rough guide, a dog is considered mature at 7 years old and senior at 9 years old and over.
Here’s what you’ll want to look for when food shopping for an older dog….
High Quality Protein: Much of your dog’s food should be made up of protein. Make sure it comes from an animal source like chicken, for example, rather than a vegetable. Protein is critical because it’s used by the body to build and maintain muscle.
Fat: This promotes healthy skin and coat; it also provides the body’s essential fatty-acid requirements. Never eliminate fat completely.
Fibre: This helps to support a healthy gut and encourages your dog to absorb vital nutrients by promoting digestive health.
Antioxidants: These protect the immune system by ridding the body of free radicals, which corrupt cell membranes and DNA.
APPETITE CHANGES IN OLDER DOGS
As dogs get older, many are less interested in eating. They might not burn the same amount of energy, so their appetite naturally reduces. There can be alot of reasons for loss of appetite, such as mouth or tooth problems, so if your dog’s behaviour changes suddenly it’s best to get a vet to check it out.
The key to feeding your senior dog well is to find a nutrient-packed food that your dog enjoys. Look for a food that will help minimise the stress on joints, and take care of teeth and digestion.
TIMED FEEDINGS FOR OLDER DOGS
Because ageing dogs generally eat less than their younger canine friends, it could be helpful to divide up their meals into two or three meals. Try a morning and evening schedule or a traditional breakfast, lunch and dinner.
By feeding only at certain times, the food in the dish isn’t so overwhelming, plus it’s likely to be fresher and more appealing. Timed feedings have the added benefit of increasing metabolism, which will help your dog maintain an ideal weight. While the calendar might say that your dog is ready for retirement, their body needn’t be.
At Salters we analyse our foods with real dogs showing that our exceptional nutrition, alongside appropriate care, can help dogs live longer than their breed’s typical lifespan. By feeding a diet of food specially formulated for your dog’s life stage, you’ll help keep them feeling like a puppy again!