Feeding Senior Pets
January 27, 2016
There are many pet foods available marketed specifically for senior pets. You should be aware, however, that there is no agreed upon definition either legally or informally of a senior dog or cat food. There is also no oversight or regulation of what formulas pet food manufacturers may label as senior diets.
Traditionally, many senior pet foods have reduced calories, fat, and protein primarily in an effort to control weight gain. However, as we learn more about our pets’ nutritional needs we now know that in many cases this approach is not best for seniors (or for overweight dogs for that matter). In fact, cats’ energy requirements may actually increase as they age and maintaining adequate protein levels in the diet for healthy senior cats and dogs is essential to maintain healthy lean muscle mass as they age. Lean muscle mass helps our senior pets maintain good mobility and strength as they age, keeping their quality of life better, longer.
No matter what number is on a bag of pet food, I do not recommend changing a pet’s diet simply because s/he has reached a certain age. If your senior pet is doing well and maintaining a healthy weight, just keep feeding the normal diet. If your senior pet is starting to gain weight, consider a reduced fat, moderate to high protein, high fiber food. Pets having problems with mobility or arthritis may benefit from diets containing anti-oxidants, fish oil, or supplements such as glucosamine. Other diets may be appropriate for pets with specific health problems such as kidney or liver disease, diabetes, or cancer.
Please feel free to call the clinic any time to speak to one of our doctors about an appropriate diet for your senior pet (or pet of any age!).
Karen Christopherson DVM CVA