Feeding Your Senior Dog
Senior dog nutrition needs.
Cathy M. Rosenthal
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Since older dogs tend to gain weight, senior diets usually contain less fat 10 to 12 percent, as opposed to a minimum of 15 percent for many adult formulas. More fiber is added to senior formulas to dilute calories, quell hunger, and reduce constipation, a common problem for older dogs.
You'll find a variety of senior diets at pet-supply stores, in pet-supply catalogs, and online. Talk to your veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist about what diet might best suit your dog.
Some senior formulas add supplements, such as chondroitin and glucosamine, to help with aging joints. Remillard points out, however, that glucosamine levels in a particular food may not be sufficient for all dogs. Always consult your veterinarian about your dogs supplement needs.
Just Not Hungry
A lack of interest in food can be caused by an illness, such as liver or kidney disease, which may require a prescription diet. An underlying dental problem can also prevent dogs from eating properly. Small changes in the foods palatability can often help while you and your vet work to correct the dental condition. Some senior diets offer smaller kibble pieces to make chewing easier. You also can add water or broth to soften the food, or mix in canned food to make the meal more pungent.
Overall, senior diets fill the same nutritional needs as an adult food, but with less fat, fewer calories, and more fiber to accommodate the changing canine body.
We know enough about canine nutrition today to know that one size does not fit all, Case says.
Cathy M. Rosenthal is the pets columnist at the San Antonio Express-News and director of community relations and education for the Humane Society/SPCA of Bexar County in San Antonio.
What's in a Label?
Nutritional adequacy statement. The most important information on a dog-food label is the nutritional adequacy statement, which says the food provides complete and balanced nutrition by meeting AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials) nutrient profiles or conducting feeding trials. Most veterinarians recommend premium foods that have undergone AAFCO feeding trials.
Guaranteed analysis. This allows you to monitor the foods minimum amounts of crude fat and protein and the maximum amounts of moisture and crude fiber. This does not guarantee that the exact amounts are present, but that the amounts are not less than or greater than those listed.
Ingredient list. The ingredient list outlines ingredients in the order of their weight, starting with the heaviest ingredient and ending with the lightest ingredient.
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