Denise Fleck has no idea how old her newly adopted dog Kiko really is. She estimates that her Akita rescue is between 7 and 10 years old, which confirms that she is an older dog. All Denise can confirm is that by providing Kiko with a high quality nutritional diet and supplements, she now has shiny fur, healthy weight, and exuding timeless energy.
“They say 50 is the new 30, so in dog years that makes an 8 or 9 year old dog, 3 or 4!” She says.
Denise is known nationwide as the Pet Safety Crusader for her first aid courses and pet safety books. But she also stands up for the Needs of Older Dogs as President of the Gray Muzzle Organization (greymuzzle.org), which strives to improve the lives of endangered older dogs. This non-profit group includes the renowned veterinarians Marty Becker, Ernie Ward and Heidi Lobprise.
Nutritional Needs of Older Dogs
Meeting the nutritional needs of gray-muzzled dogs is a top priority for Denise and her organization.
“There is no universal food for older dogs because their needs are different,” says Denise. “My feeling with my older dogs, and I have a full dozen now, is mostly in moderation, nothing excessive. At Kiko, I continue to watch how she reacts to her diet and supplements, and make adjustments if necessary. “
Dr. Jean Hofve, a holistic veterinarian in Jamestown, Colorado, agrees that there is no one superfood or one diet that meets the nutritional needs of all older dogs.
“Older dogs need more food and better quality protein and fat because they don’t digest or ingest food as well,” she says. “Your stomachs wear out with aging.”
For this reason, Dr. Hofve for making so-called symbioses available to older dogs. It’s a combination of omega-3 fatty acids, prebiotics, and probiotics.
“Omega-3s are very important to older dogs because they are antioxidants, have anti-inflammatory properties, and are also good for their joints and help with arthritis pain,” says Dr. Hofve. “Prebiotics and probiotics given together work together in the body to improve digestion and the immune system.”
Also a big topic on Dr. Hofve’s list for older dogs: plenty of water.
“For older dogs, I recommend canned food over dry food because it’s easier to digest and contains more moisture,” she says. “Also, consider giving your dog bone broth – make sure it’s free from salt or onions.”
Another senior canine attorney is Susan Blake Davis, CCN, a certified clinical nutritionist and licensed animal nutritionist who founded Ask Ariel.com (askariel.com), a website featuring a range of veterinary-recommended pet supplements. She shares her home with Legend, a nearly 13-year-old rescue dog with severe hip dysplasia and epilepsy.
“Legend eats a raw, frozen diet full of raw, freeze-dried treats and lots of vegetables,” says Susan. “Raw and frozen food is low in carbohydrates and particularly helpful for pets with allergies, skin problems and digestive problems.”
Supplements for Seniors
Like Dr. Hofve also strongly recommends Susan to supplement an older dog’s diet with quality nutritional supplements. “Vitamins and supplements for pets can aid digestion and nutrient absorption, help keep your pet’s coat and skin healthy, and strengthen joints and bones,” says Susan. “A good multi-strain probiotic contains many beneficial strains of bacteria that will help your pet’s immune system fight harmful bacteria, yeasts and parasites.”
Bottom line for your older dog: Acknowledge that every day we can spend with them is a gift. That’s a promise people like Denise Fleck keep for older dogs like Kiko. Denise says: “Dogs live longer and healthier thanks to better nutrition, exercise and integration into the family.”
Know Your Vitamin AB-Cs
Ask your veterinarian about specific vitamins and other nutritional supplements that can maximize your older dog’s health. Here is an overview of vitamins and the health roles they can play in older dogs:
Vitamin A: Supports the aging immune system
Vitamin B: Supports enzyme function, the brain and regulates energy
Vitamin C: This antioxidant removes toxins in the body and soothes inflammation
Vitamin D: Promotes healthy bones
Vitamin E: Helps metabolize fat and supports eyes and muscles
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Take a look at some senior meals!
While there used to be puppy foods or adult foods, today a variety of senior foods are available at pet stores near you or online. We share three of these and what makes them good for seniors: low in calories, easy to digest, and ingredients that older dogs benefit from.
- Go! Solutions Carnivore Senior Diet: Contains taurine for eyesight and health, glucosamine and chondroitin for hips and joints, 394 kcal per cup. Available in dry and wet. $ 40.99 / 12 pounds. Pocket.
- Royal Canin Early Cardiac (veterinary prescription): Very tasty, digestible, contains arginine, carnitine, taurine, omega-3 fatty acids and a moderate sodium restriction for heart health, 290 kcal per cup. Available in dry and wet. $ 69.99 / 17.6 pounds. Pocket.
- Purina Pro Plan Bright Mind Adult 7+ Senior Small Breed Chicken & Rice: Contains glucosamine and chondroitin for hips and joints, fatty acid MCT to improve cognitive thinking, 487 kcal per cup. Large breeds and wet also available. $ 45.99 / 16 pounds. Pocket.
- Wellness Core Grain-Free Senior Boned Turkey Recipe: Contains Taurine for Eyesight and Health, Glucosamine and Chondroitin for Hips and Joints, 359 kcal per cup. Available in dry and wet. $ 42.99 / 12 pounds. Pocket.