As for dogs, specific internal and external personalities changes with age. Some are obvious changes, like grey fur or overweight. Some may be subtle, such as slower metabolism or decreased immune function. When your dog is a senior, one of the key changes would be a new set of nutritional requirements. Due to dental disease and other medical reasons, senior dogs may also have less ability to digest and absorb nutrients from food, thus need less energy from their diet. If your dog’s energy needs decrease, his need for fat will decline, too. Just as human, portion control and regular exercise are also keys to weight control.
That is to say, once your dog hits the senior years, you might want to re-plan his diet. But do you know when your dog should be considered as a senior? YuanLong Pan, BVM, Ph.D., a principal research scientist at Purina, points out that although many factors can affect the health and aging process in an individual dog, including genetics, breed, physical activity, and nutrition, “on average, seven years of age is considered as senior.”
Dr. Pan explains that aging is a “gradual and continuous process and is greatly affected by nutrition.” The proper food and supplements work for slowing down the progress of aging and enhancing your dog’s quality of life.
Many of the supplements we usually take for ourselves as aging can also be beneficial to our senior dogs. Always remember that it is vital to consult with your veterinarian before providing any supplements to your dog. Take glucosamine and chondroitin for example, since they can protect cartilage in joints, you can add them to your dog’s diet.
According to scientific studies, antioxidants, another potentially important supplement, can improve memory and cognitive function in senior dogs when combined with behavioral enrichment. You can also add vitamins C and E to your dog’s food or use fruits and vegetables that are rich in antioxidant as training treats or snacks. Just ensure that you will do research before adding anything new in your dog’s diet since not all foods are safe for your dog.
If you are scared to add supplements, quality commercial food that already contain supplements should be an alternative. According to Dr. Pan, “Generally speaking, senior dogs can benefit from products that contain high-quality protein, and optimal levels of vitamins, antioxidants, natural prebiotic fibers, omega-3 fatty acids, and glucosamine.”
The use of particular ingredients (like enhanced botanical oils) to support cognitive health is a recent breakthrough. Dr. Pan says that a dog’s brain begins to lose its ability to use glucose as its primary energy source at around age 7. Along with bad effect on memory, learning, awareness, and decision-making. Studies has shown that diets containing enhanced botanical oils help improve a senior dog’s cognitive functioning.
Your dog’s diet is a critical part of enhancing and maintaining your senior dog’s health. Whether adding supplements or tuning to an additive-rich senior formula, proper nutrition for your older dog will have a positive influence during the aging process.