It is so important that we support our dogs through every life stage, from puppyhood to old age. As a dog ages and becomes "senior" we need to understand how their body is changing and how we can help them feel their best, so we asked our in-house Vet Alison to answer some questions we had about older dogs:
You might be wondering when a dog is classified as a senior, they don't get a bus pass or go into retirement like humans, so it's not always obvious...
Senior: A dog in the second half of its predicted life expectancy can be considered as ‘senior’. Most will still be healthy but beginning to experience signs of ageing.
Geriatric: A dog at the older end of the ageing spectrum, perhaps from 80-90% of their life expectancy, may well be experiencing more health-related issues.
It's important to note that different sized breeds tend to age differently. Large breeds often age faster and have shorter lifespans.
As dog's age, they will naturally experience changes throughout their body systems. Typical changes will be seen in the following areas:
Digestive system - as dog's age they can be more prone to conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease and colitis and therefore highly digestible natural diets are often best, to make sure they get the most out of their food. Some older dogs can be prone to constipation - so it’s important to choose a food with a good balance of quality fibre, like that from fruit & vegetables. A food with a softer consistency can be beneficial for those dogs suffering from dental pain and issues.
Brain /nervous system - many older dogs can show signs of senile behaviour. However, antioxidants have been shown to be useful in slowing disease progression. Antioxidants have also been shown to aid in the fight against cancer - cancer being more prevalent in older dogs.
Musculoskeletal system - with age, dogs can suffer from osteoarthritis. Arthritis is inflammation within the joints and Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to be beneficial in reducing this inflammation and therefore pain. Supplements Glucosamine and Chondroitin also serve as building blocks to help develop and maintain cartilage health and elasticity.
With a loss of muscle comes weakness and loss of ease of motion - so it’s important to provide adequate high-quality protein to maintain muscle mass as a dog ages - special consideration of the protein level will be needed if there is existing kidney disease and the level may need to be lowered.
Diet greatly affects health and you're never too old to make changes. Here are some tips when choosing a diet for your much-loved faithful friend:
If a dog goes off their food, it’s important to get them to vet checked and make sure there are no medical reasons for this. If no health issues are discovered then try to get them in a good routine, feeding at set times. Feed a variety of our recipes to keep interest up, warming the food can help too. Bone broth is also great for elderly dogs as their appetite changes.
As dog's age, their metabolic rate will slow and this, coupled with decreased activity, results in a lower energy requirement. In older dogs we need to consider this so that we do not overfeed and create overweight or obese dogs - this would be detrimental to health and worsen conditions such as arthritis etc.
Higher fat foods will be more calorie-dense - so, as above, if the older dog is tending to put weight on, it can be useful to lower the fat content of their food as well as consider portion size. As dog's age, they can be more prone to pancreatitis and these dogs will benefit from lower-fat foods. For healthy dogs with less of an appetite, a more moderate fat level can make the food more appealing and help them to maintain their condition.
Different Dog is hand-cooked using a high-quality protein that is highly digestible, with a good balance of fibre, making it a great option for the senior dog. The variety in our recipes means that there is a choice of fat levels and meat types. All of our ingredients and superfoods are of the highest quality, locally supplied and packed with essential fatty acids and antioxidants, which are beneficial for the older dog.
Here’s a selection of our recipes that are perfect for senior dogs:
Stay Supple Fish Supper
White Fish (60%), Broccoli (13%), Sweet Potato, Squash, Apple, Mushroom, Flaxseed Oil, Glucosamine (0.6%), Chondroitin (0.6%), Parsley, Monocalcium Phosphate, Brewers Yeast, Chia Seeds, Kelp, Minerals, Turmeric.
Moisture 77.9%, Protein 13.5%, Fat 1.9%, Fibre 0.7%, Ash 1.8%
Turkey (Lean Mince 60%), Red Cabbage (13%), Carrot, Squash, Apple, Mushroom, Salmon Oil, Parsley, Brewers Yeast, Monocalcium Phosphate, Chia Seeds, Kelp, Minerals, Turmeric.
Moisture 73.0%, Protein 18.2%. Fat 3.2%, Fibre 0.4%, Ash 2.8%
Turkey (Mince 60%), Cabbage (14%), Carrot, Sweet Potato 8%, Banana 5%, Mushroom, Salmon Oil, Coriander 0.7%, Monocalcium Phosphate, Chia Seeds, Kelp, Minerals, Turmeric.
Moisture 71.9%, Protein 15.8%, Fat 4.9%, Fibre 2.2%, Ash 2.5%
Chicken (Mince 55%, Liver 5%), Red Cabbage (14%), Carrot, Sweet Potato, Apple, Mushroom, Salmon Oil, Parsley, Brewers Yeast, Monocalcium Phosphate, Chia Seeds, Kelp, Minerals, Turmeric.
Moisture 72.3%, Protein 15.2%, Fat 6.6%, Fibre 1.8%, Ash 2.4%
Chicken (Lean Mince 45%), Carrot (13%), Beef Heart, Cabbage, Squash, Apple, Powdered Egg, Salmon Oil, Coconut Oil, Slippery Elm Powder, Monocalcium Phosphate, Powdered Alfalfa, Powdered Ginger, Brewers Yeast, Chia Seeds, Kelp, Minerals, Turmeric.
Moisture 72.2%, Protein 14.5%, Fat 5.3%, Fibre 1.4%, Ash 2.9%
What our customers have been saying:
"Clear website, wonderful product, excellent packaging. Our dog wasn't eating his usual food. He is allergic to nearly everything! He is a senior dog with age-related health issues. Different Dog was literally a lifesaver!"
Pamela Walker - 5-star review on Trustpilot
Bianca, our in-house Dog nutritionist says:
Different breeds age at different times which is why at Different Dog we treat every dog as an individual. Large breeds tend to age faster and suffer more commonly from joint disorders, however latest research from the kennel club shows that the lifespan of most breeds is rapidly reducing. That’s why our dogs appear to be becoming senior much sooner in their life than they used to!
As our dog's age, many struggle with health issues so offering a bio-available, easily digestible mix of gentle proteins like that of the Different Dog Senior Trial Box ensures excellent support of health. From the Glucosamine and chondroitin in the naturally anti-inflammatory Stay Supple Fish Supper to the Bone Broth rich in collagen and soothing to the gut, this trial box ensures comforting nutritious support to our ageing pets.