Just like humans, dietary needs change as your dog gets older. As they slow down they often tend to get a little heavier as well. Fred Metzger, DVM, Diplomate ABVP and owner of Metzger Animal Hospital tells us, “Seniors and geriatrics generally need lower-calorie diets to help prevent obesity, a huge problem in seniors and higher-fiber diets to improve gastrointestinal health.”
That’s why it is important to tweak your senior’s dog diet as they progress into the older stages of life. And what’s great is that you don’t necessarily have to run out to the store and get senior pet food. Some of the best foods you can feed can be found in your kitchen.
- Chicken: While feeding your dog both lean cuts of white and dark meat is healthy, the lean dark meat is the better choice. It provides more nutrition than a breast. Make sure there are no bones and remove the skin for dogs with sensitive stomachs or lower calorie diets.
- Beef & Lamb: These meats are a great source of zinc, iron, amino acids and other vital nutrients. When you’re cooking beef for older pets make sure to drain out some of the fat to avoid upset tummies.
- Fish: The same benefits of omega-3 fatty acids that we seek also benefit our dogs. It supports their immune system, improves their coat and skin, and can help reduce inflammation. Sardines, jack mackerel and pink salmon are the best, but tuna can also be used. If you’re using canned meat, rinse it off first to reduce the sodium content.
- Liver: Senior dogs can really benefit from all of the great nutrients in a liver. You don’t want this to be the main part of their diet, adding it to a few of their meals a week will give them extra vitamins and minerals. Check with your vet about your dog’s specific dietary recommendations.
- Combination Meats: What’s even better for our dogs is to make them a mix of meats. When you combine different types of meat they get a better variety of fatty acids and nutrients than if they were only eating one or the other.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: Adding veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage may help to prevent cancer. The only downside is they can cause gas, especially at first, so limit amounts if they get gassy. Also, cook them to help support thyroid function.
- Eggs: Calorie requirements may decrease as your dog’s ages, but protein requirements do not. That’s where the goodness of eggs can come into play. They have a slew of health benefits, especially since dogs don’t have to worry about cholesterol. You don’t necessarily have to cook the eggs, but does help them digest. Also, don’t forget the shell! Grind and dry them, then sprinkle them on your dog’s meal for an extra punch of nutrition.
- Yogurt: Probiotics are just as good for dogs as they are for you. This beneficial bacteria can help digestion and the calcium keeps their bones strong. Just make sure to use plain low-fat/nonfat yogurt and it can be added to every meal.
- Oatmeal: A perfect source of fiber. Oats have tons of vitamins, minerals and other antioxidant properties. You can mix them into any meal or feed it to them by itself. Just steer clear of the instant flavored oatmeals that may have additives.
It’s hard to see our dogs slow down as they grow older. And feeding them the best diet we can is a great way to help them age gracefully. Make sure to contact your vet before making any huge changes in your dog’s diet. Depending on their height, weight, and age the amounts certain foods will change.
Do you feed your dog any of these foods? We’d love to hear some of your recipes and ideas you have that your dogs love!