From a certain age (6 to 10 years depending on the breed), your dog is considered to be elderly or “senior”. This means that her body is no longer functioning as efficiently as it used to and that her dietary requirements are changing. To keep your companion in good shape and healthy, these changes must be taken into account and a suitable diet provided.
As your dog ages, his metabolism is no longer as important as it used to be, and therefore his energy needs decrease by about 10% compared to his adult needs.
In addition, the dog is often less active, it “burns” fewer calories. We must therefore be careful not to overfeed it because obesity is on the watch. Being overweight will make certain age-related health problems worse (osteoarthritis or heart failure).
The protein requirements of the elderly dog are controversial. If your dog does not have kidney problems, he should eat enough high-quality protein. We recommend that you have your dog’s kidney function checked regularly with your veterinarian.
If you are diagnosed with renal insufficiency, your dog’s “senior” diet should be replaced by a low-protein diet (containing little protein) prescribed by his veterinarian.
The fat requirements of your senior dog are lower than the needs of an adult dog in middle age because its metabolism has decreased and any excess would promote obesity. On the other hand, choose good quality lipids containing essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6) essential in particular for the health of the skin and coat.
A food supplement containing EFAs (essential fatty acids) Omega 3 and Omega 6 may be recommended.
Carbohydrate requirements are the same as in adult dogs. We advise you to avoid so-called fast sugars (pastries and sweets). Your dog being older, he regulates his blood sugar less well (low blood sugar) and risk of becoming diabetic. It is best to give it slow sugars like starch.
It is also better to split your daily ration into two meals spread over the day to have a more stable blood sugar level.
With regard to vitamins, those of group B must be provided in larger quantities because these vitamins are water-soluble. As the older dog drinks more and urinates more often (polyuria), urinary losses of group B vitamins are increased.
An important contribution in vitamin E is beneficial because it has an antioxidant effect (prevention of aging).
Mineral intake must be controlled because an excess of calcium or sodium would be dangerous. Sodium should be given in small quantities. A sodium restriction is essential if your dog suffers from heart failure, in this case your veterinarian will advise you on a specific and adapted diet.
Phosphorus restriction is necessary if your dog has kidney failure. The addition of zinc and iron promotes the body’s defense system and prevents anemia.