Healthy aging starts with providing proper nutrition throughout a dog’s life, but it is never too late to begin feeding a healthy diet to help increase your old dog's time with you. Here are some tips on feeding senior dogs from the AKC Canine Health Foundation:
Get out the measuring cups: One of the keys to longevity is preventing obesity. Overweight dogs, the Canine Health Foundation reports, are more prone to diseases like osteoarthritis, diabetes mellitus, respiratory and cardiovascular disorders, and cancer. Talk to your veterinarian about how much food your dog needs on a daily basis.
Buy the good stuff: Senior dogs should be fed complete and balanced nutrition that contains an optimal blend of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to help support their joints and other tissues. Look for dog foods with omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Also, it should have a minimum of 25% protein from a good-quality protein source. Ask your veterinarian for help finding the right diet.
Keep an eye on the scale: Or, rather, the body condition chart. Monitoring a senior dog’s weight and body condition helps to identify obesity sooner, so it can be managed more effectively. A dog should have an hourglass shape when viewed from above, which equates to a score of 4 or 5 on a nine-point body condition score system (which is good).
Click here to learn more about senior health from the AKC Canine Health Foundation, which recently launched a campaign called Old Dogs Rule. Stay tuned for more articles on health and wellness for senior dogs.