Feeding your dog the correct diet is important at all ages but none more so than when they reach their senior years. Dog food created especially for older canines is an excellent way of helping your dog maintaining its health during its later years.

Different breeds of dog mature at differing rates, depending on their size. Giant breeds for instance are considered as being senior at a much younger age than small breeds such as a Chihuahua. In general though, a dog is usually classed as a senior when it reaches seven or eight years of age.

Consulting your Vet

As a dog becomes older its metabolism begins to slow down, meaning it becomes more prone to weight gain. With the body slowly losing its ability to repair itself so readily, illness may become more frequent and longer lasting, requiring extra trips to the vet which, in turn, raise the stress levels in your dog. This is most definitely the time to research dog nutrition needs and feed your dog accordingly.
It is certainly advisable to consult your vet before making the switch to senior food on a permanent basis, as one dog’s metabolism may be completely different to another. Senior dog food has less calories and nutrients in it as most dogs become less active as they age. However, for dogs with digestive problems, those nutrients are still important so a switch to senior food would not be advisable. In these cases, a food which specifically caters for these particular health problems would probably be more beneficial. The rule of thumb here is if in doubt, ask your vet.

The main benefits of senior food for your dog include

Lower calorie levels

Extra support for ageing joints

Presence of vitamins C and E to support the immune system

Making the Change Gradually

If, after consulting with your vet, it is decided to put your dog onto senior food, do not to be tempted to make the change all in one go. It is much more beneficial to your dog to make the change gradually, mixing in just small amounts of the senior food with their normal meal at first, increasing the amounts day by day. This ensures that your dog will become used to their new food over a number of sittings and lessen the chance of them turning their nose up at it completely.

Of course, not all older dogs necessarily need to be on a regular diet of senior food. If they are still healthy at an advanced age, then your vet may advise to keep your dog on the regular food that it is used to. Many of the supplements that are contained in senior food can be purchased separately anyway. This includes supplements for ageing joints and arthritis, in addition to supplements for kidney or digestive problems.

As with all matters relating to an animal’s health, always consult with a veterinary expert before taking the decision to completely change your dog’s diet. After all, their health and well-being is of paramount importance.

Jennifer has written many articles on looking after your pets for a range of animal websites and blogs. For the best value pet food, she recommends purchasing online from reputable companies such as http://www.hillspet.co.uk/.