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Best NUTRITION for old dogs - 4 simple things you can do for old dog health !

-older-dog nutritionThis is the most simple plan you can follow for a mature/ old dog to keep them healthy diet wise.

All dogs need exercise and socialisation, but as dogs age, their dietary requirements change slightly - and these are the VERY SIMPLE things you can do to make your dog last longer and be happier.

SPOILER ALERT - we also discuss the best healthy dog treats for mature dogs at the end!

So that you keep reading, this is the basic rules followed by dog food companies too when they make their 'special mature dog' formulas - with one exception - they don't include anywhere near enough meat !

HOW YOUR DOG CHANGES with AGE 

Dogs in the wild don't have such issues as they don't live as long, because they can't keep up from the pack, can't protect themselves or can't fight off diseases that your vet can treat. In domestic situations, dogs are considered mature once they turn 7 or 8  in human years.  However LARGE breed dogs can often require dietary changes at 6 as they may only live to nine.

The main differences between your dog's adult dog food diet, and that required when they are senior / mature/ old is:

1            Older dog  REDUCED ENERGY requirement.  Like humans we don't exercise as much as we age, and our metabolism slows down.  This is usually the same for older dogs, and that means they need to have the energy amount of their food reduced.  The two ways this is accomplished is simply adding less pellets to their bowl, and usually replacing the volume with fibre.   But this point is about energy input.

Dog food is typically a combination of  protein and fat

We believe that dog food should be 80% meat products (meat and offal) NOT the 80% carbs it usually is made of (because carbs are cheap for dog food makers).

Assuming you feed your dog commercial dog food, they are mostly getting 70- 80% carbs (grains plus non soluble fibre), 20- 30% meat (for protein and fat) and meat by-products (the cheapest), and maybe 5% fat and 5% fibre.   If you want to reduce your dogs weight, reduce the total pellets they eat each day by 10% in the first week and remove another 5% each week until they achieve their weight.  NOTE you could do this, or also do the following:

2     Reduce Fat in your dog's diet

Because most of commercial dog food is carbs, the fat is often from carbs (grain). Dogs prefer getting the energy from fat from animal products - even the saturated fats, because this is very bio- available to the dog to digest.  Regular dog food already has fat at an acceptable level (although not always from animals) and it also has Omega 6  (mandated by law) often from sunflower oil, and Omega 3 from flax seed.  the Omega 3 is in the wrong form for easy digestion by dogs and should come from fish products (or animal). 

You don't want to reduce the Omega 6 or 3 that your dog is getting, if anything they require just as much if not more in old age to assist the brain and eye maintenance functions etc.

The reason that mature dog food has reduced fat is that fat provides 2.5 times the energy of protein so a small reduction in fat can make a decent drop in energy input.

3   Increased fibre in your mature dogs diet

Older dogs can have issues with constipation because the muscles that contract the intestine are not as strong when they are young, so adding more fibre to a mature dogs diet has the many fold effect of making them feel fuller, having less calories or Kj (because fibre is supposed to pass through a dog without being converted) and also helps maintain bowel health (integrity of the intestine lining).

The main difference between what commercial dog diets use for increasing fibre and what I recommend is to do with the cheapness of their input product. I will discuss you alternatives below. While adult dog diets might only have 2-4% fibre, a senior or mature dog diet often has 7% or higher. On prescription you can get diets of 15% plus.  A commercial dog food will add more wheat husk or bran or any old grain fibre. 

In the wild dogs dont eat grains or vegetable fibre on purpose, they use the skin, bone and non digestible parts of their prey as natural fibre - just as you can do with the dog trets suggested below.

4      Protein requirement

Many senior dog diets have decreased protein because old research perhaps suggested this was s good way to go.  BUT coincidently less protein (particularly meat) also makes a dog food company a substantial saving.  Here is some more up to date information on senior dog protein requirements:  " According to many leading veterinarians and veterinarian schools, the current thinking is that older pets will actually require MORE protein than younger pets (see below for references)." (petnet .io)

CONCLUSION

You can handle these things by feeding your dog a prescription or mature dog kibble But you are still going to be feeding your dog 70% plus kibble and not enough meat.

The best alternative is to supplement your dog with dried meat based dog treats.  Get ones that take some chewing if you can so that you can restrict energy input, increase meat protein and make them very satisfied and a little bit more healthy ...

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