Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Keeping The Golden Years Healthy-Seven Tasty Tips For The Nutritional Needs of Older Dogs

 As someone who lives with three senior dogs, and one soon to be senior,\ Bob will be 7 in April, I'm often thinking about the subtle changes I see in my babies as the age and how I can best keep them healthy and hopefully lengthen their life spans.   One of the best ways to do this is through some little diet modifications.

1) Watch the Fat-

As animals age they begin to loose lean muscle mass.  This happens even for pets who get regular exercise.   Since older dogs tend to have less lean muscle and more fat its a good idea to try and limit fat in their diet.  This can be done by looking for foods with high quality, low fat protein, or feeding treats such as skinless chicken or low fat cheese, rather then richer fattier foods.  Its also important to realize that the amount your dog ate as a youngster may need to be greatly reduced.  Norbert, for example, eats about half the amount he did as a two year old and his weight remains the same.

2) High Quality Protein-  With pets living longer and longer lives there is an ever increasing dizzying array of senior diets for our animal companions.  Unfortunately, many may do more harm then good.  In an effort to lower calories many senior foods skimp on the protein.   This is really unfortunate because current research indicates that dogs and cats need more, not less, protein as they age.  Make sure you are feeding your senior pet a food with a high quality protein source.  For example the first three ingredients in Wellness Core Grain Free Reduced Fat are Debonbed Turkey, Turkey Meal, and Chicken Meal.  These are all high quality meat sources.    In contrast the first three ingredients in IAMS Pro-Active Health are Chicken, Chicken By Product Meal, and Corn Meal.  Corn meal is NOT a high quality protein source and since its very high up on the ingredients list in this food it means that dog who eats it is going to be getting a lot less quality protein then a dog who eats the Wellness food.

3) Consider Adding Antioxidants-Antioxidants are nutrients that help prevent the cellular breakdown caused by aging, as well as strengthen the immune system.  Studies have shown that diets rich in antioxidants help prevent cognitive decline in aging humans, and they may very well do the same for older dogs.   High quality pet foods already contain antioxidants, but its a good idea to give an extra boost.   You can add some fresh fruits and vegetables to your pets diet or consider a supplement, such as Cell Advance 880

This product is available on Amazon for around twenty five dollars.  I've been giving it to my older pets daily for years.  Its very easy to open the capsules and sprinkle them right over the food.

4) Remember Aging Teeth-As our pets age their jaws get weaker.  In addition many older pets have gum disease or may have had some teeth removed during dental cleanings.  Its a good idea to feed softer chews and treats to our older pets.  One option is senior chewz from antler chewz  these antlers are softer and easier for older dogs to chew and our still a safe and natural chew.

5) Consider Adding Curcumin-I sprinkle a curcumin capsule over my older dogs food every day.
Curcumin is an extract of the spice Tumeric and it has dozens of health benefits.  Its an anti-inflamatory that helps with arthritis and its anti-carcinogenic.  Studies have shown that tumeric helps prevent the formation of cancerous tumors.  Its also a great detoxifier and benefits the liver.

6) Add Some Coconut Oil-I am just starting to use  this one myself.  I'm not sure why I missed the coconut oil craze for so long, but its probably because I was so focused on using fish oil.  

The big plus of coconut oil, and the reason I will be adding it to my pups food, is that it helps to reduce cancer risk.  It also aids in the absorption of other nutrients and helps to regulate thyroid function, a problem for many older dogs.  Make sure you get an organic, cold pressed, coconut oil.  As I add coconut oil to my dogs daily diet I'll write more about the subject.

7) Fresh Food Add Ons-As pets age there sense of smell often decreases and they may get a bit pickier.  A good way to ensure that your older pet will keep eating their meals is to boost the flavor with some fresh add ons.  I regularly add cooked meat, yogurt, low fat cheese, squash, and  other vegetables and fruits to my dogs food.  It keeps there meals interesting and healthy, which should keep aging pets eating.  Of course raw meat is very healthy too but it probably should not be fed in the same meal with kibble.

If you keep your dogs food healthy and tasty then hopefully  your senior pet will be enjoying their meals for years to come.


  1. Now that is interesting as our vet says to cut down on protein which is not good for kidneys and bulk up with carbs. Have terrific Tuesday.
    Best wishes Molly

  2. I've added coconut oil to both my dogs and my diet. It really is great stuff. It helps a lot with dry skin. I still give fish oils as well.

  3. Lots of good advice here - thank you.

  4. We have been using coconut oil but awhile now also, i just hide it in their food. Thanks for the informative post.
    stella rose

  5. PAWsome advise ... most of is what my mom do. I actually need to gain some weight. Golden Thanks for sharing. Happy Tasty Tuesday. Lots of Golden Woofs, Sugar

  6. What great tips!! Your babies are so lucky to have mom who cares about them so much. I sometimes add coconut oil to my boys' meal. I also add probiotics and hope it helps!

  7. I think it is 10-12% fat that is ideal for seniors and any food or treats below 5% fiber means they are absorbing almost all of the nutrients in their food. We also make it a point to add Glucosamin and coat supplement-will have to consider antioxidants as a supplement if it's not already in the food. It's important not to over supplement as well if it's already in the food! This is fascinating to us, since Bella has reached her "senior" years by definition, though she still acts like a young dog and she wants to go like a young dog. We want her mobile and healthy for many more years to come :) We'll have to look into coconut oil-Thank you for the tips!

  8. Been hearing a lot about coconut oil lately, gonna have to give it a try for the both of us :) Thanks for the info!

  9. These are great tips... I didn't know about the health benefits of curcumin and coconut oil for dogs before reading this. Thanks for sharing!

  10. Great advice for the older dog. have a super week xxoxx

    Mollie and Alfie

  11. Thank you for the tips! Although the sentence "Its also important to realize that the amount your dog ate as a youngster may need to be greatly reduced" scared me. Less food?! Uh oh. I hope my dad doesn't consider me senior yet!

    Also my dad uses coconut oil sometimes, but hasn't tried it with me. I'll see if he can give me a taste!


  12. Great information in this post. I did not know about the Curcumin but we have been using the coconut oil for a long time. In fact, I just ordered a gallon container of it yesterday. My guys love it and I like using it for cooking and baking too! Although frying something in it requires a taste adjustment. :-D

  13. We've been using the coconut oil, too! We like it and eat it right off the spoon!

    Love Zoe, Peyton, Webster, Liberty & Whitney

  14. phyllis has always been a licker, always licking her front paw and itching it. it decreased a LOT when we switched her too a food with a fish base (instead of chicken or beef) but i also give her coconut oil, which really helps! it is naturally anti microbal and anti fungal! sometimes i even rub a little on that paw, she loves it! i give them nordic fish capsules too, which seems to help with their joints.
    great post! thanks for the ideas!

    1. oh! also, we have been adding psyllium husk to priscillas food at the vet's suggestion. she has problems with her anal glands (all the dang time! its so gross!) and the vet told us if her stool was a little harder, it might help them express naturally when she goes. a little tmi maybe, but it seems to be working so far!

  15. Thanks for the tips. Chester is 11 years old but he is my first senior dog so I have been doing research to make sure I am doing the right thing. I recently switched him to Vital Essentials Whole-prey Raw Patties and he is acting like a kid again. I also give him glucosamine and probiotic supplements.

  16. I want to shout this from the rooftops! MORE PROTEIN! So many kibbles have too much carbs (IMHO) to begin with and it hurts my heart to see pets getting even more! We use curcumin and coconut oil too (both the humans and the pups!)

  17. Thanks for these tips. I haven't done a lot of research on the curcumin yet so I'll put that one on my list. I have been doing the coconut oil for a bit. It really seemed to help Tallulah's dry skin and brittle coat. I use it in protein smoothies for me too. I don't like the taste of coconut but in a smoothie, I can't taste it. And after my face got windburned from being on a boat, I used coconut oil on my face for a few days and it healed wonderfully. Great for those eye wrinkles that are starting to appear, too!

  18. Wow, I expected to see you give some supplement advice, but I haven't seen these before! Another good one is green-lipped mussels. They're awesome for all dogs.

    I saw your post on one of our NaNo chapters. You said you can't do a novel, but would you be interested in trying a page? We still need a few more writers. :)

  19. Thanks for the tips. we add cooked squash and pumpkin to the dogs food to help keep them regular.
    We did not know about curcumin, we will definitely check that out!
    Thanks, Wyatt and Stanzies Mom

  20. You always have great ideas- we know coconut oil is good for you- but we never tried it yet. We should