As your pet gets older, you start to wonder, what do I need to do to ensure that they live long and happy. Of course we know that they need, love, exercise, a good diet and lots of fresh water. What is a good diet? Recent studies show that what we used to think may not be true.
Myth # 1 All pets are considered senior when they reach a certain age (example 8 years old)?
As we age, we start to slow down and may have reduced physical health and may affect mental abilities. Not all dogs age at the same rate,, smaller breeds live longer than larger dogs.
Generally a Small dogs (under 20 pounds) are considered geriatric between 9 and 13 years old. medium sized dogs (21 to 50 pounds) are considered geriatric between 9 and 11 years old. Large breed dogs (51 to 90 pounds) are considered geriatric between 7 and 10 years old.
In fact senior pets can’t process protein as efficiently and actually may require more protein. The truth is that there is no reason to feed a lower protein diet to senior dogs. Part of the myth started from the belief that the kidney can not handle too much protein and lower protein will reduce calories and result in weight loss. Senior pets require a protein-rich diet because their systems are less efficient at metabolizing protein. Protein is important for many reasons: it supports the immune system and the central nervous system, it is needed for wound healing, building lean muscle, and is required for skin and coat health. If an older pet cannot metabolize enough protein, their bodies will break down their own muscle which can cause them to lose muscle mass, affect their immune system. which reduces their ability to repair itself from injury, infection or other ailments. What
Myth #3 Lower protein diets help to protect the kidneys, especially in older dogs.
Research done on dogs has now shown that protein does not damage kidneys, and feeding a lower protein diet does not protect them. A healthy senior dogs fed high protein diets lives longer and is healthier than those that are fed low protein diets,. High quality protein (commonly referred to as human grade) is important as well as limited processing or preservatives because your senior pets body does not have to work as hard to digest and they can metabolize it better. However, if you pet has kidney issues, discuss with your vet and make sure that they regularly test kidney function on whatever diet you choose.
Myth #4 A senior food with low protein high carbohydrates is needed for a senior sedentary pet so that they do not gain weight
Will lowering the protein increase weight less? Doesn’t a diet high in carbs, such as grains and vegetables, help a dog on a low calorie diet feel fuller? In this analogy, if we were on a pasta diet we would lose weight right ? The answer is no. It is more likely that protein will satisfy your pet’s appetite more than carbohydrates and indigestible fiber. Replacing protein with diets bulked up with indeigestible fiber and carbohydrates does not really reduce calories, but it does reduce nutrition. Pets convert protein much more efficiently into energy and muscle, and carbs are more likely to convert to fat. Diets high in carbohydrates contribute to inflammation, which increases arthritis pain, and can cause medical problems and weight gain. In Canine and Feline Nutrition, authors Case, Carey and Hirakawa state “Diets that contain increased levels of indigestible fiber and reduced levels of protein are not recommended for weight loss or for long-term weight maintenance of sedentary dogs and cats. If a diet is simultaneously high in indigestible fiber and low in fat and/or other nutrients, it is possible that long term feeding may result in nutrient deficiencies in some animals”.
Weight. If your pet is overweight or is losing muscle mass, find a food (senior or adult ) that has a higher amount of protein. Make sure that you are not feeding to much and you should also consider adding to supplements to the food that will help their digestive system metabolize the food better. You should look to add a probiotic supplement and / or pumpkin. Any probiotics in dry food losing it’s effectiveness when cooked at a high temperature. It is important that your pet not be overweight as it creates other issues such as joint pain and taxes their heart and systems. You may want to also add a vitamin or supplement that will give them vitamins and essential minerals in a form that is easier to absorb
Exercise It is important to have regular exercise. If your pet has joint pain maybe you just walk around the block a 2-3 times a day. Exercise keeps the body moving, without it we slow down. Try not to overdo it for your pet has joint issues. There are many supplements out there that you can use to help with joint pain. The glucosamine/ chrondrontin added in processed food is just not enough. Try to limit any pain medication as it can affect their organs.
Fresh water Always have a fresh bowl of water for your pet to drink. Water is essential to a good diet. If your pet has continence issues and cannot let them out frequently, there are solutions such as indoor pet grass or doggie diapers. Also if you notice them starting to drink alot more water, you may need to take them to the vet.
Diet and Treats . Keep it less processed as it will be easier to digest. A diet made up of highly processed food and treats makes their system work overtime and can contribute to poor health. Look for foods that have high quality protein, whole fruits and vegetables and limited carbohydrates. Typically the rule of thumb for treats are the less ingredient, the less processed it is.
Most importantly your senior pet needs lots of love.
Nadine Joli-Coeur is Mom of Dogs Callie, Lucky, Joey and Harold the cat. Natural Pawz has been recognized nationally and locally as a retail leader in natural pet care products. We are a local business to Houston with now 7 locations in and around the Houston area. Stop by for a visit (pets are welcome)
Voted Best Grooming Shop in Fort Bend County 2010 and Best Pet Supplies 2 years in a row!