What makes the healthiest Senior dog food?
By Rudy Leschke —
4 Minute Read
featured, Life Stage
During the golden years of life, it’s important to keep your beloved pup as healthy as possible to ensure their later years are happy and comfortable. And while older dogs need the same nutrients as younger adult dogs, decreases in metabolism and energy, along with common age-related health issues, can impact the quantities and delivery methods of the nutrients they need to maintain optimal nutrition.
It’s important to keep in mind that different breeds and sizes of dogs reach their “golden years” (referred to as “geriatric” by the National Research Council) at different times:
- XL Breeds (100 lbs+ as an adult): 5 years+
- Medium & Large Breeds (21 - 100 lbs as an adult): 7 years+
- Toy & Small Breeds (<20 lbs as an adult): 10 years+
3 Primary objectives of a Senior dog food:
- Provide optimum levels of fat to account for reduced metabolism and physical activity
- Provide adequate levels of protein to maintain lean body tissue
- Provide the optimum levels of macronutrients to support healthy immune systems
Fat + Fatty Acids:
The reduced metabolic rate and physical activity of older dogs can result in a reduction in daily energy requirements of up to 30% to 40% compared to adult dogs. This is controlled in senior recipes primarily by reducing fat content and adjusting feeding instructions for a lighter diet.
However, it’s also important to keep in mind that older dogs frequently have reduced appetites, and in these cases, may require a higher amount of fat to provide the necessary calories – roughly 3,200 – 3,500 kcal/kg.
While reductions in fat are recommended for senior dogs to compensate for reduced energy needs, it is still necessary to deliver adequate levels of essential fatty acids, which allow the body to carry certain nutrients to vital organs. Studies have shown that aging dogs benefit from higher levels of fatty acids in their diets to support proper vision and brain function, and healthy skin and coat.
- Essential fatty acids:
- 1.3% Linoleic acid – supports healthy skin & coat
- 0.08% Alpha Linolenic acid – supports function of cell membranes
0.05% to 1.1% EPA with DHA – supports function of cell membranes
As dogs age, they tend to lose lean body mass, so it’s important that their food contains higher levels of dietary protein to help minimize this loss of tissue.
- Minimum Protein – 16 to 24% of high-quality protein
- Recommended – 25% or higher of high-quality protein
Research has indicated that the inclusion of certain nutrients in a senior dog’s diet can slow down the decline of immune system function. For these reasons the antioxidant vitamin levels in senior formulas should actually match those recommended for puppies.
While glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are beneficial for healthy joints and can minimize the development of osteoarthritis in older dogs, therapeutic dose levels are higher than what could be added to a diet under current regulatory limitations. While Tailored senior recipes do contain naturally occurring levels of these micronutrients, and may impart some benefits, it’s important to talk to your vet about whether an additional supplement would be helpful for your dog.
Personalize your Senior's Recipe:
We want your pup’s golden years to be as happy, healthy and active as possible, and choosing the right balanced nutrition for their needs plays a big role in the quality of their later years. Tailored takes out the guess work by sending the personalized nutrition your senior dog needs right to your door, so your time can be spent with your pup and not at the pet store.
Why wait? Simply click here to start tailoring your senior dog’s health-focused blend today.