Diet is an important thing to monitor and be aware of when feeding your senior pet. An older pet has different nutritional requirements than their younger counterparts. Senior pets may also require special diets that are low in calorie or have ingredients for joint support and health. There are several over the counter diets as well as prescription diets that you should discuss with your Veterinarian, to find out what is the best food to be feeding them.
Monitoring how much food your senior pet eats is important as well. Not eating as much food as they used to may be an indicator that your pet may be ill. Overeating can also be a sign of an underlying illness. Change in eating habits is not always a sign you pet is ‘just getting older’. Sometimes it is as simple as the kibbles being too large to chew, it is harder to eat the kibbles. A thorough exam by your veterinarian can rule out illnesses.
It is important to feed your senior pet a diet that is labeled for them. Older pets do not need as many calories that a younger dog may require. Lots of senior pet food has higher fiber, lower sodium and sometimes can have ingredients that can help with joint support. It is important to keep your pet at a good weight while younger because it is much harder to get the weight off when your pet ages.
Some diets that we recommend for Senior Pets are:
- Hill’s J/D - mobility support
- Hill’s B/D - Brain health diet
- Hill’s G/D - Aging care
- Hill’s Science Diet/Hill’s Ideal Balance has a variety of senior and mature pet foods to choose from in both wet and dry.
Dental health is important for senior pets as well. Just because your pet is older, doesn’t mean those annual teeth cleanings should be skipped! Ignoring that bad breath can be a sign of dental disease that can cause more health problems for your pet. Bacteria can build up on your pet’s teeth, under all that calculus and plaque, and can enter the bloodstream causing damage to your pet’s internal organs.Dental disease can also cause painful tooth loss and gum disease that can cause your pet discomfort as well as not wanting to eat their food.
Discuss with your veterinarian anesthetic risks and benefits of teeth cleaning. Having blood-work done prior to anesthesia, or even x-rays and ultrasound can rule out any underlying health concerns prior to anesthesia.
Keeping your older dog’s mouth healthy is actually very easy. There are several things you can do to keep up their overall oral health:
- Daily brushing
- Water additives - Monitor your pet’s water intake, sometimes these can cause an unappetizing flavor or smell to the water. Consult with your veterinarian if your pet stops drinking water.
- Dental chews - Greenie’s, Oravet chews, Hill’s Prescription dental chews
- Prescription diets
- Hill’s T/D
As always, it is best to consult with your veterinarian on your regular exams, to find out what is best to keep your pet healthy.
Written by Nichole Schiller, RVT at Pinole Pet Hospital