Choose a food formulated for older animals. Today's senior pet foods are packed with antioxidants, omega-3 fatty accids, more digestible proteins, fiber, and other supplements and ingredients shown to heal mature bodies. Scrutinize the food label to make sure it says "provides complete and balanced nutrition." That wording means the pet food has met the minimum standards set by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). If the label says "For intermittent or supplemental feeding only" then you know that product didn't pass the AAFCO standards.
Do you recognize most of the ingredients listed on the dog food label? You should! Proteins such as chicken should be listed first instead of rice or other carbs. Too many carbs/calories can lead to obesity. Senior-specialized canned foods tend to have a higher protein content and more water, which helps stave off dehydration in senior animals. As animals develop arthritis, it may be too painful for them to drink from their water bowls, and as a result they develop dehydration which can lead to urinary crystals and kidney disease.
If your senior dog has been diagnosed with cancer, some experts advise sprinkling 1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric— a spice used in curry— to his or her food to inhibit tumor growth. You can also combine turmeric with plain yogurt, which helps to restore important intestinal bacteria for digestion, immune function, and overall health. Offer this mixture as a treat. Apple slices are a good treat for fur children, too. Research has shown that the antioxidants in apples can extend an animal's lifespan by 10 percent.
Just like with humans, portion control is key. Most portion guidelines on pet food bags are formulated for active, unneutered adults. If your pet is sedentary, you might be overfeeding him by 30 percent. Older dogs also tend to have slower metabolisms, so even a few extra kibbles a day can mean a pound of weight gain per year and those extra pounds can cause or worsen arthritis. Plus, being overweight can cause life-shortening health issues such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers.
Of course you can't mention proper nutrition without also mentioning proper exercise. Just as with humans, fresh experiences are the key to keeping your pet's mind "young." So even if your dog is doing more walking these days instead of running and jumping, sharpen Rover's mind by trying something new. When exposed to a new activity, your pet's brain secretes a chemical that stimulates cell growth, helping to reduce mental decline. So instead of walking the same route all the time, mix it up so he or she has a chance to take in new sights, sounds, and smells, and maybe make a new fur friend. Take your canine to a different park or dog run. Let him roam somewhere with a variety of smells, like the beach.
Feeding all pets well, especially senior dogs, is the best way to say thanks for all the years of happiness they have given you and your family! Shop for dog food below: