Feeding an elderly dog
When you have loved and cared for a dog throughout their entire life, it is easy to get into a routine and keep their feeding patterns the same. However, it is important to remember that dogs are similar to humans in the way that their bodies change as they get older.
One factor is that their digestive systems become more delicate and cannot always tolerate the type of food they have been used to eating, or in fact the quantity. Although dogs are carnivores by nature, they may struggle to digest a high quantity of meat, therefore try to include slightly more vegetable based food. This will also add fibre to their diet and it is a good idea to monitor your dogs bowel movements. If they appear to be less frequent then add more fibre based pet food and look to split their meals into smaller portions but at several intervals throughout the day.
If your elderly dog is not eating his or her pet food, or struggling in particular with their dry food, then check their mouth. Elderly dogs are prone to tooth decay and gum disease, however regular veterinary visits should keep their mouths healthy.
Obesity is also a key point to watch out for. An elderly dog will become less active and therefore burn off less calories and energy. If you believe your dog is gaining weight choose leaner food and encourage some gentle exercise. It is wise to ask your veterinary surgeons advice when changing your dogs diet for this reason.
Equally, an elderly dog can go off their food and lose weight. An elderly dog should be weighed more frequently, once a month if possible. If your dog is losing weight then get them medically checked immediately to ensure their loss of appetite is not down to disease or illness.
Overall, your dogs life can be prolonged with a little extra care. Choose food that is specifically designed for elderly dogs or add dog supplements to their diet.