It is often surprising to discover that many dogs are considered to be senior dogs as early as their seventh birthday. In fact, large and giant breeds, such as Great Danes and Greyhounds are senior dogs even younger than seven, since giant breeds do not live as long. Fortunately, you can keep your senior dog healthier and more active by following the tips below. Before making any change to your dog's diet, be sure to speak with their veterinarian. 

#1-Feed Smaller Meals Several Times A Day

Although younger dogs often have no difficulty eating just one time a day, older dogs will usually do better spreading their food out throughout the day. Specifically, as they age, their digestive system and metabolism also changes. By feeding them less more often, your older dog is less likely to experience an upset stomach, gas, and indigestion.

#2-Reconsider The Food You Provide

You have probably already noticed that many foods are labeled for senior dogs. It is important to examine the ingredients listed on the new foods, as some are fillers that provide very little benefit to your dog other than making it feel full. Other ingredients are intended for actual nutrition. 

A dog that eats food with excess fillers or the wrong ingredients can be compared to a human being that consumes nothing but fast food. They might stay alive, but they would not be very healthy. 

Therefore, be sure to avoid any dog food that lists the following foods:

  • Ethoxyquin- started as a herbicide
  • Propylene Glycol- active ingredient in antifreeze
  • BHT/BHA- linked with cancer in dogs
  • Corn syrup- sugar that can contribute to weight gain, diabetes and related conditions
  • Corn- filler that is prone to mold and moldy dog food can cause canine death
  • Anything listed as a "meat byproduct"- not actual meat from an animal and can be diseased

Instead, it is a good idea to choose a dog food that is high in protein and has as few ingredients as possible. By understanding what your dog eats, you can more effectively manage their health.

#3-Choose Food With Supplements Or Provide Them Separately

You will also see that senior dog foods often come with different supplements than standard dog food. If your dog's food does not come with the following ingredients, your veterinarian may recommend the following supplements. In addition, if your dog has any specific health problems, you should verify whether supplements would help with the problem. 

  • Glucosamine- increases cartilage, treats arthritis and hip dysplasia 
  • Vitamin C- improves function of the immune system and hip dysplasia
  • Vitamin E- improves the circulatory system
  • B vitamins- improves vision, reduces cholesterol, helps with allergies and skin disorders

There are many other supplements that your older dog may benefit from. If you use a dog food that provides some or all of the above, do not also provide them with supplements that also has the same item, as doing so could cause an overdose. 

In conclusion, as the owner of a senior dog, you need to pay special attention to their nutrition, activities and overall health. By providing them with the most appropriate food and supplements at the right time, you can give them a better quality of life in their golden years. For more information, visit a vet at Elizabethton Veterinary Clinic.