Written by Josephine Lategan
So, the vet said it aloud. Your dog is a senior now. Did you know she probably also needs a special diet? We aren’t talking about the yummy, healthy treats you give her (because they’re included in her daily caloric count, right?). We’re talking metabolism, rheumatism and the like. Old dog? New tricks at mealtime.
Wait, WHEN is a dog a “senior”?
Although you’re probably familiar with the adage that one human year equals seven dog years, it’s misleading, especially when we’re talking retirement. Different dogs develop at different rates. Some breeds live longer than others, but age faster. Smaller breeds reach adulthood more quickly than larger ones, but age slowly. And it’s difficult to predict when mixed breeds will saunter into their senior years.
Saunter might be the wrong word, ne? Gallop, maybe. Because you’re having so much fun playing every day, neither of you may notice. Or, hobble, even. Because despite the wagging tail and shiny eyes, his breath is shorter, and his rests are longer, and his hips are hurting.
The rule of thumb is seven years equals senior in a dog. But a healthy, long-term relationship with a good vet – or a full medical history if you’ve switched vets – is also part of assessing life stage and health. The vet is the best person to estimate your animal’s age and life stage.
What does an older dog need from her daily meals?
Watch out for WEIGHT GAIN
A slower metabolism means they burn less energy. It also means that excess energy from food stays on the body as fat.
Watch out for weight LOSS
Some dogs LOSE weight as they get older and this may be a sign of disease. They will need a food that helps restore their mass without malnourishing them or causing them to become overweight.
Watch out for age-related ills
Older dogs are prone to a range of complaints that the right food can help relieve. Certain specialised pet foods contain carefully tested supplements. Hills C/D alleviates the symptoms of urinary inflammation, for example, and can reduce the chance of painful bladder stones forming in the future. It’s only available from qualified veterinary practises.
Even if your pooch is perfectly healthy, you should take her to the vet every six months for a physical.
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