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Have you ever heard a pet parent complaining of his older dog loss of appetite? Personally, the other day in the park with my pet parents fellows we had a discussion about it. One shared with us that his dog didn’t seem to want any of the things he’d fixed for him! However in the past he never had this problem… Does it ring a bell? Well, dogs need different diets at different ages. Yes, this is true ! But when should  you start feeding your dog senior food?

Indeed, we often say that aging is not a disease. However it is also true that aging is usually related with a variety of diseases. Common problems for seniors dogs are obesity, arthritis, and cognitive and appetite loss. Thus, making nutrition an important tool in order to stay healthy, prevent diseases and even manage them. Specially when you consider that a huge part of good care is good nutrition.

When our beloved dogs age, just like us, their eating habits and dietary needs change too. Thus, you may judge essential switching your dog’s food to senior food in order to meet his/her unique food requirements. If you are reading this then perhaps you are wondering “when should I start feeding my dog senior food?” since it’s once the key pillars in order to keep him/her healthy! If so, keep on reading to find out.

at what age you I give y dog senior food

What is difference between senior dog food and regular ?

As foretold, food that’s labeled for senior dogs may have different nutrients and ingredients, but not always. Commonly, senior dog foods have indeed some differences to those labeled adult and puppy food in terms of nutrition balance. Usually, compared with adults and puppies, senior dog food contains less protein, fat and carbohydrates. For instance, in adult dog food the percentage of protein is between 18%-30%. Whereas senior dog food ranges between 18-23%. What varies the most typically are sodium and phosphorus levels. The main difference between regular and senior dog food is if they have other ingredients or nutrients that helps or control certain diseases ! Meaning that if your old pal has a specific disease it makes sense to change their diet. For example, if your dog has joint pains, your vet will certainly reccomend you a dog food that contains extra glucosamine, present in many senior dog foods. On the other hand if your dog has dental problems you should probably quit giving him/her any kibble. Instead, you can give him soft food like dog canned food, fresh delivery food or even some dog home made dishes ! Which will comfortably allow your dog to eat even if he/she has sensitive gums or is missing some teeth.

old dog and home made dishes

When should dogs eat senior food ?

Just like humans, the aging process in a dog varies for each dog and this affects them differently too. Thus, if your senior dog still seems healthy, changing his/her diet may not be necessary. The age on which they are considered as senior dogs depends on their breed and sizes. For instance a larger dog will attain seniority before a smaller one. Yet, when should you start feeding your dog senior food, right ?

Well, our dog life stages chart (here below) can help you find out when is your dog considered as a senior. However keep in mind that is not because they’ve blown a certain amount of candles that they are old. Each dog is unique.

Dog Life stages

Bear in mind though that your veterinarian is your best ally. They will help your determine correctly if your dog should change to a senior diet (and which one) !

Pet Food controversy

Older dog muscle loss

Older dogs need restricted protein but the protein needs to be easily digestible and easily assimilated in the body. The diet schedule should have ample supply of water for them. Feeding aged dogs too much protein may finally lead to over burden to the renal structures and ultimately, the dog may end up damaging filters in the kidney. This is true especially when the immune system of these dogs is compromised due to many factors. Similarly, the elderly dogs need less food only because the movements of the adult dogs are highly restricted. Hence, they have to spend limited energy.

Yet, keep in mind that commonly we belief that we need to reduce our dog’s protein intakes however this is not always beneficial for them! Sometimes it may even have negative sides effects on older dogs like muscle loss, a key factor to keep an eye on while they are aging. Since they can damage your dog’s joints and cardiovascular system. Thus, to avoid this, you should feed him lower levels of fats and increased protein unless they are still highly active. Nonetheless, if you notice a change in your dog after switching his/her food please consult your vet!

Dietary phosphorus

Lowering dietary phosphorus has been shown to be beneficial to pets suffering from kidney disease, but it is not clear whether low dietary phosphorus can reduce the risk of kidney disease. Nevertheless, dietary phosphorus that far exceeds requirements may not be ideal for older dogs. Commercial premium pet food has a wide range of phosphorus content, so if you need low phosphorus, be sure to work with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable diet for your pet.

Takeaway

When you ask yourself “when should I start feeding my dog senior food”, you might want to ask yourself if your dog really needs it or not. If they are overweight, if you notice they seem to get tired quicker or if they are not energetic anymore, you may indeed consider changing their diet. You must take into account that there are also certain health problems that may be aggravated by the typical diet of a young dog such as kidney disease and diabetes. Moreover, if your old pal is fallling sick ou should consult with your veterinarian to determine if your dog is at an appropriate age to start on senior food. Certainly, there are many controverse around the dog senior food industry mainly due to marketing aspects. Just remember, your vet is your best ally to help through this!

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