Senior Dog Food

Senior Dog Food

Senior Dog FoodThere is a myth out there that senior dog food should have a different nutritional make up than other stages of life. Pet food companies and some veterinarians claim that older dogs require special diets to maintain optimum health or prevent diseases. Popular ideas aren’t necessarily correct, however, and dog’s diets should suit their individual needs, regardless of age. So what should you consider when picking out a great food for your senior dog?


A recent study conducted by Tufts University found that many senior dog foods contain:
• Reduced calories, protein, phosphorous, and sodium
• Increased fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, joint supplements, and antioxidants

What do these adjustments tell us? It says that older dogs tend to be overweight, have problems with constipation, and require less protein in old age. In addition, they indicate that dogs can absorb nutritional supplements from dry food, which they cannot. Tweaking dog food formulas to fit these generalizations is not the answer to improving your dog’s health.


1. FACT: Protein requirements do not decrease as your dog ages. The low quality, rendered protein found in many low-grade dog foods puts a strain on your pet’s organs. Thus compromising kidney and liver function and inhibiting their ability to process the amount of protein they need. That is why commercial senior dog foods contain less protein than adult formulas, not because older dogs require less protein.
SOLUTION: A dog food containing high quality, named sources of meat at biologically appropriate protein levels is the way to go for dogs of all ages.

2. FACT: Not all older dogs are fat. In fact some stages of aging – decreased appetite, reduced sense of smell or taste – can lead to senior dogs becoming too thin.
SOLUTION: Reduced calories won’t help those dogs, and if your dog is overweight, practice portion control and regular exercise.

3. FACT: Adding fiber to senior food doesn’t work. It may make them poop more, but too much fiber can make them unable to assimilate antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
SOLUTION: Constipation can be prevented by feeding dogs a moisture rich, species-appropriate diet, adding digestive enzymes and probiotics to their food, and making sure they get plenty of exercise. If your senior dog needs more fiber, canned pumpkin, psyllium husk powder, or other healthy alternatives can be added to his diet.

4. FACT: Dry food doesn’t supply your pet with appropriate levels of nutritional supplements. Many commercial senior foods have Omega-3 fatty acids and joint supplements added to them. The process of making kibble, however, renders omega-3s useless because they are very sensitive to heat and light. In addition, the levels of glucosamine are too low to benefit your pet.
SOLUTION: Add a joint supplement like Phyto-flex or Joint Rescue to your senior pet’s diet to make sure he’s getting properly formulated amounts of glucosamine and MSM. Fish oil is an excellent source of omega-3s that can be easily added to dry food. And dogs usually love the taste!


With so much conflicting nutrition information out there, it’s a good idea to do a little research when choosing the best diet for your dog. For more info on senior dog foods, check out Dr. Karen Becker’s website: