The Best Dog Food for Senior Dogs

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At what age are dogs considered geriatric or elderly?

Because every dog’s personality, needs and circumstances are unique, we are not able to provide a one-size-fits-all answer to this question. A dog’s anticipated lifespan can vary depending on size and breed. 

Generally, small dogs can be expected to live between 15 and 20 years, while larger dogs age faster and are considered “older” by the time they turn six years old. 

Does my senior dog have specific nutritional requirements?

We recommend keeping two main criteria in mind when seeking the best dog food for senior dogs. 

First, check that it’s low in calories. Similar to people, a dog’s metabolism will slow as they age, which is why it’s important to prevent our canine companions from eating too much or too quickly to prevent obesity. 

Second, integrate high-fiber options into their diet. Constipation is a fairly common issue for senior dogs and may lead to more serious gastrointestinal issues if it becomes severe enough. It can also be painful. 

Maintaining the health of your older dog’s gastrointestinal system should be a high priority, so the best dog food for older dogs will contain a significant amount of fiber to keep them regular. 

What should I do if my senior dog won’t eat?

We sometimes see older dogs that have lost at least some of their appetite. Causes for a sudden reduction in or loss of appetite vary widely in both severity and scope; your dog may be experiencing simple nausea due to gastrointestinal issues, or they may be suffering from symptoms of cancer. 

If your senior dog has suddenly begun to exhibit an unexplained loss of appetite, speak with your vet to have them rule out any potentially serious causes, including diabetes, dental disease, cancer or kidney disease. 

Once serious medical issues have been ruled out as the cause for your pooch’s appetite loss, another food avenue for consideration is the simplest one – your dog may simply be tired of their regular food. 

Adding some water, chicken broth, or a small amount of canned food to your dog’s dry kibble may help make it more enticing. You could also try preparing a simple meal of cooked chicken and barley or cooked lamb and rice. These home-cooked meals are both bland enough to sit well with them if there is another dog and bland enough to sit well with them if your dog is an older sibling or is experiencing new nausea. 

Which health issues does the best dog food for senior dogs help prevent?

If your senior dog suffers from health conditions such as diabetes, liver disease or kidney failure, he or she will likely need a special diet prescribed by your vet to help manage the condition. If your dog is sick and you are worried about any potential effects of their diet, it’s possible to consult your vet. 

Best Dog Food for Older Dogs

Our team at  Washington Dog and Cat Hospital has compiled this list of some of the best types of dog foods for senior dogs. Ask your vet which senior dog food is best for your pet. 

Prescription Dog Food

Depending on your dog’s specific health condition and circumstances. In some cases, a medical prescription dog food may be the best option for your senior pup. In other circumstances, your vet may simply recommend you switch to a healthier alternative. 

Low-Calorie Dog Food 

Dogs that are at higher risk for heart disease (or who have already been diagnosed with it). That’s why your vet may recommend a low-calorie dog food – it will help keep your pup’s weight down. Low-sodium recipes are preferred. 

High-Fiber, Low-Fat Dog Food

Our veterinarians in Los Angeles recommend owners of pre-diabetic or diabetic dogs place a high priority on the slow absorption of food. Blood sugar tends to rise more slowly with special diabetic diets, reducing the risk for health complications. These diets are also exceptionally high in fiber and low in fat.

As mentioned previously since older dogs commonly struggle with constipation, the higher amount of fiber, the better. This will help to prevent constipation and keep their bowels working regularly. 

Dog Food High in Protein

Many senior dog foods will also contain higher quality protein sources than standard dog food, which can help senior dogs maintain a healthy body weight without putting unnecessary strain on their aging kidneys. 

Limited Ingredient Dog Foods

If your senior dog has allergies, your vet might recommend limited ingredient dog foods, which include just a single protein source (such as chicken, beef or lamb), often combined with one carbohydrate source. 

This can be used to eliminate allergens that might be causing allergic reactions or symptoms. When looking for limited ingredient dog foods, it’s important to check for the Association of American Feed Control’s (AAFCO) seal of approval, in addition to a “complete and balanced” claim from the manufacturer.   

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