Senior Dogs

As your dog ages, his nutritional needs begin to change. Generally, mature aged dogs need a diet that will help with joint support and the preservation of both skeletal and muscular health. Choosing the right food can relieve many of the symptoms of old age and keep your dog feeling fit and healthy for years to come.

  • Getting older results in a slower metabolism. Older dogs are more prone to putting on weight, which can in turn make for sore and aching joints. Senior dog foods will have fewer calories and less fat.
  • Digestive irregularities are common in older dogs, and so a food with fibre, prebiotics and antioxidants can help soothe an upset tummy.
  • Dental disease can become more of a problem with age. Some senior dog foods also contain dental benefits to ensure a healthy mouth.
  • Joint health becomes more important with age. Food with fatty acids, glucosamine and chondroitin will help alleviate joint inflammation.

A number of premium food manufacturers offer specific formulae for senior dog nutrition.

Foods that are toxic to dogs

Many of our common foods are toxic to dogs and can cause anything from tummy upset to full blown neurological disorders.

Some of these toxic foods are::

  • Onions and garlic – these cause anaemia, or a lack of red blood cells, and will cause tiredness and a reluctance to move. Left over Bolognese or soups with stock in them are common causes.
  • Chocolate – dogs love chocolate, but it contains a chemical that dogs cannot metabolise. It will affect many areas of the body including the heart lungs, kidneys and the nervous system. If you believe your dog has ingested a significant quantity of chocolate, take him to the vet.
  • Caffeine – can also affect many areas of the body. Hyperactivity is the first symptom, followed by weakness, staggering and tremors.
  • Grapes and sultanas – although the exact mechanism is unknown, there are many accounts of poisoning from these fruits, in particular sultanas and raisins – simply because they are much more concentrated than grapes.
  • Xylitol – this sweetener is used in many things, in particular ‘sugar free’ foods. It is remarkably toxic to dogs and will cause low blood sugar and eventual liver damage.

Changing Diet

There are reasons to change your dogs’ food, including weight management, skin or stomach issues, or dental necessity.   Changing diet has a very strong potential to upset their digestion. There are ways to change the food whilst minimising this issue.

Slower is Better

it is better to transition them slowly from their old food to their new food. This means that you start out with adding only 10% new, mixed into their old. Over a period of 10 days, you can gradually increase by 10% each day, until you are feeding entirely their new food. So on the second day you would be feeding 20% new and 80% old, and so on.

Stop if You Have To

If your dog begins to show signs of digestive upset, such as vomiting or diarrhoea, then don’t move on to increasing to the next level of new food until it has resolved itself. And if your dog has symptoms for more than a couple of days, consult your vet.

Helping with Tummy Troubles

If they do begin to have some signs of digestive discomfort, there are a few things you can do to ease the transition. Offer smaller meals several times a day, instead of one or two large meals. Alternatively, mash in some cooked pumpkin or sweet potato into the food – both will help with firmer stools.