Just like us humans, older dogs are prone to putting on weight. So reassessing their diet as they mature is important to ensure a healthy waistline.
Not only will their appetite change, but their ability to exercise will become reduced too. And as we all know, less exercise leads to weight gain.
Before making any big changes, consult with your vet. Particularly if you have noticed a loss of appetite or increased drinking as this could signal an underlying medical condition.
If your vet is happy and your dog has been given the all-clear, there are several initial doggy diet steps you can take.
- Start by serving smaller portions more frequently – so from one large feed a day to two or three little ones.
- Move them from a hard feed to a soft feed, or add warm water to their hard food to soften it. This will make their meals more palatable and easier for older teeth to chew.
- Consider giving them a special veteran feed which will have added nutrition and fewer calories. There are many on the market including Burgess Senior/Mature Complete and Purina Senior Dog Food Formula, However, do remember to introduce new food gradually to prevent upsetting their tummy.
- Avoiding doggy snacks is also important. Not only does this reduce their calorie intake, but it also makes sure they are hungry and ready for their main food. If you must give snacks, opt for low-calorie ones or offer them fruit and vegetable slices. Believe it or not, dogs love carrots and apples just like horses!
Your dog’s autumn years are also a good time to introduce supplements. Some focus on supporting their teeth, skin, and hair which can become weaker and drier as they age. Others are aimed at easing tired stiff joints; a common ailment. There are lots available which contain glucosamine. Lintbells YUMOVE PLUS is one we regularly use which is very effective.
Most importantly, the very best thing you can do for your veteran dog’s diet is to constantly monitor and maintain it as they mature, and flex it accordingly when they need it.
Next time, we look at providing a little luxury for your four-legged friend as they reach their winter years.
This blog is part of a series focusing on a dog’s life from puppy to pensioner! Read about how to look after your dog - from agility and grooming to neutering and zoning out.