4 Senior Dog Nutritional Requirements You Need to Know

As your dog’s needs change, so should their diet. What should you be feeding your senior dog?

We all want out four-legged companions to stay by our side for as long as possible, which means knowing a bit about senior dog nutritional requirements. As we have seen our family and friends (and maybe ourselves) get older, we realise more and more how much the body benefits from being well-nourished. The same goes for your old furry-pal over there!

You can’t control the genes your dog has been born with or the amount of luck you both have with avoiding moving cars and other scary accidents. What you can control is what you put in their food bowl every morning and every evening to make sure they are strong and healthy.

There is no set age for when a dog is considered senior. This is because larger breeds will have shorter life spans and age faster than smaller breeds. Their seniority depends mostly on their breed and body weight. Lean dogs are going to age better than overweight dogs.

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The average age for a dog to be considered senior is around 7 – which is also when you may start to notice signs of ageing. At age 7, a dog’s brain starts to metabolise glucose at a slower rate which can affect memory, response and energy levels.

How will my senior dog’s nutritional requirements change?

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for your older doggo because senior dogs will have a far wider variety of conditions and illnesses that you need to keep in mind. Many senior dogs will have a diet that has been discussed between you and your vet.

You may have to alter your dog’s diet if they develop illnesses like kidney failure, diabetes or liver disease. Heart disease could be a reason to lower sodium and calorie intake whilst a high-fibre diet is best for diabetes.

Your vet will be able to help you structure the perfect meal plan for your pet but if you’re looking for a few extra helpful tips, we’ve got you covered.

Remember: it’s never too early to implement a nutrient-dense diet. Don’t wait until your dog is being affected by old age!

Pack the protein

As dogs get older, their energy levels dip alongside their metabolism which often results in obesity. Having a protein-rich diet helps your dog to maintain its muscle mass and a healthy body-weight.

According to research, older dogs need 50% more protein than younger dogs do in order to maintain a healthy weight.

Count their calories

If some dogs could, they would eat forever. They don’t have the same off switch that some of us have to say “okay, I’ve had enough to eat” If your elderly dog is overweight or overeating, you’ll need to limit their daily calorie intake whilst still making sure they get sufficient energy.

Weight gain usually affects dogs that are only just reaching seniority, whilst very old dogs may start to suffer from weight loss. This means you’ll need to incorporate more calories into their diet and make sure they are eating.

Food for health (straight to your door)

When you choose your dog’s food, you need to be carefully looking at what is inside and how that is going to benefit their health. You want to choose food that is nutrient-dense and that has been approved by qualified manufacturers.

A great way to get your paws on premium, vet-approved dog food is via the Onepet Store. If you decide to sign up with Oneplan Pet Insurance, you’ll gain access to their exclusive online premium pet store: a place where fur-parents shop. The Onepet Store makes sure you get everything your pet needs from one trustworthy source, delivered to your door – including premium pet food brands like Hill’s, Royal Canin, Iams, Eukanuba, and more!

The main reason this is such a great option if you want to make sure your senior dog is getting proper nutrients from high-quality food is that you’ll also get up to 25% discount* on all products in the Onepet Store, depending on the pet insurance plan you choose. This means you can get your hands on some really great brands without the expensive price tag.

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Make their food easy to eat

The things we do for love! One thing getting in the way of your dog’s diet may be that it is difficult for them to eat. If your dog is losing teeth or suffering from other kinds of dental problems, you need to try and make his life easier. After seeking treatment for any problems you can try wetting their kibble, blending dry food or try canned food every now and then.

If your dog has no appetite, try heating their food up to heighten the smells. If they are struggling with nausea, cooler food may be more appealing. You know your dog and whatever works for you, works for you. At the end of the day, it’s about meeting your senior dog’s nutritional requirements, so if they only want to eat an unhealthy snack for dinner, that’s better than nothing.

Yours in Not-So-Average Pet Advice,

The Petinsurance.co.za Team


*Discounts tiered & plan dependent. Excludes Accident Plan.