As your beloved dog begins to get old, some things will start to change. Just like with humans, dogs also get weaker and slower as they get old. As dogs get older, their health needs will not be the same. When it gets to this stage, pet parents need to focus more on the nutritional needs of their aging dogs.
Senior dogs need basic nutrients, such as minerals, vitamins, fiber, carbohydrates, fat, and protein to thrive. However, because of the changes that take place during the aging process, senior dogs usually have their own dietary requirement. You need to pay close attention to what they eat. At this point, your dog’s regular diet, which is just dog food, would no longer suffice. You need to incorporate certain things into their diet to help keep them strong, healthy, active, and happy. Here are some of the things you can incorporate into the diet of your senior dog.
Items to Incorporate in Your Senior Dog’s Diet
- Joint Supplement
Humans experience joint issues as they grow old, and your senior dog is at risk of pain and arthritis. While many commercial dog foods on the market are formulated to support joint health, adding joint supplements to the diet of your senior dog will be appropriate. An expert recommended that dogs over the age of seven should take joint supplements. Large dog breeds do not even need to get to that age to start taking joint supplements. However, many pet parents usually have issues looking for the right joint supplement for their dogs because of the numerous options available on the market. Experts recommend that you look for a product that contains chondroitin, glucosamine, and MSM. The combination of these ingredients will enhance the joint health of your senior dog.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acid
The omega-3 fatty acid is one of the best items to incorporate into the diet of your senior dog. This fatty acid is great for aging dogs, as it helps to reduce inflammation and boost their immune system. The benefits of omega 3 fatty acids are numerous, and your senior dog will thank you for adding it to their meal. According to Dr. Judy Morgan, older dogs need higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids for heart and brain health. Also, it will help to look for food that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and you can also opt for supplements.
- Fish and Fish Oil Supplement
Another option is to add fish to the diet of your dog, as they are super-rich in omega-3 fatty acids. However, you must be careful of the fish source, as some larger fish contain heavy metal contaminations. You can add sardines to their diet since sardines are much safer. Fish oil supplements are also a great option, as they will increase the level of omega-3 fatty acids in the diet of your senior dog.
Antioxidants are also miracle workers in the diet of a dog, and senior dogs need more of it. Antioxidants play a key role in the diet of a senior dog; they help to fight disease and the effect of aging in dogs. One of the best ways to do this is to supplement veggies and fruits, but some senior dogs might not like them. If your senior dog does not tolerate them, you should consider antioxidant combinations in capsule form.
- Mineral and Vitamin Supplements
In addition to carbs, fats, and protein, all senior dogs need enough vitamins to help the body absorb minerals, fight disease, regulate metabolism, and function and grow normally. Animal and plant-based foods contain vitamins naturally. While many premia and commercial dog foods on the market contain minerals and vitamins that your senior dog needs, we recommend you still add vitamin and mineral supplements to their diet. Minerals such as phosphorus, iron, calcium, and nitrate help the body to function normally. They also help to maintain adequate salt levels in the bloodstream.
Senior dogs use their sense of smell, taste, and sight to eat, which is common amongst humans. Hence, there may be a need to make the dog food appealing, especially as their faculties begin to wane. You can add a few toppings to their food to make it more appealing for them to eat.
- Special Diets
If your senior dog has any special needs or medical conditions, you should opt for a special diet. Like humans, dogs suffer from a wide range of health conditions, but some dog foods are formulated for dogs with different conditions. If your dog has urinary health issues, you might want to consider dog food for urinary health. The special diets are designed to cater to the nutritional needs of dogs with certain health conditions.
- Healthy Treats
Another excellent item you can add to your senior dog’s diet is healthy treats. Dogs love treats, and they get excited whenever you want to give them one. Nevertheless, many commercial dog treats on the market are not healthy for senior dogs, as they contain loads of calories, which is not ideal for older dogs. Vegetables and fruits are more rewarding for seniors. As such, you need to try to condition your senior dog to see them as dog treats. You can start small slices of apples, carrots, pear, blueberries, and more. Make sure you take out all the seeds in fruits that have seeds in them.
- Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Omega-6 fatty acids are excellent supplements that enhance the body of your senior dog. This fatty acid ensures that your dog’s coat and skin are healthy and shiny, even at old age. Omega-6 also helps with proper immune function and growth. It is an essential fatty acid that would make a great addition to the diet of your senior dog.
Senior dogs need all the care, support, and love they can get. One of the areas they need more help is in their nutrition and diet. Adding these nine items to the diet of your senior dog would help boost their immune system and keep them healthier, active, stronger, and happier.