Just like us, your dog is going to change as he ages. His appetite might start to slow along with his joints and general mobility and he’ll look to you to make him as happy and comfortable as possible. Supplements and vitamins are becoming increasingly popular and might be a convenient solution for your furry friend, whether they’re designed to support their older joints or simply top up any nutrients they’re not getting if they’re going off their food.
Best Senior Dog Supplement for Joint Health
One of the most popular supplements for older dogs with joint problems is glucosamine which helps form the cartilage of your dog’s joints, you can read more about glucosamine in our article here. This isn’t something your younger pup has to worry about, in their youth, dogs can usually produce enough glucosamine naturally to deal with daily wear and tear and general doggy adventures. The older they get, the harder their bodies have to work and after a while, it’s perfectly normal for their natural ability to produce enough glucosamine to slow down.
This is when glucosamine supplements can come in handy. When combined with chondroitin, they can help your dog with cartilage maintenance, cushioning their joints and generally feel much more comfortable. You might even notice your old pal has a new spring in his step!
Best Senior Dog Vitamins for Overall Health
By making a few simple changes, you can make sure your dog stays happy and mobile as he ages. Those new white hairs around his muzzle won’t be the only signs he’s getting on a bit, he might slow down or be less inclined to dash about like a mad puppy and many dogs find it harder to absorb carbohydrates and fats from their diet in their senior years. Vitamins can help with this as well as helping them maintain healthy bones, teeth and coat. Whether you opt for fat-soluble or water-soluble, dog vitamins can help make sure their bodies have the proper chemical enzyme reaction.
Best Vitamins for Senior Dogs
A really popular vitamin for older dogs is vitamin C because it’s an antioxidant which is essential for removing free radicals from the body. Just like when humans take vitamin C, it can help your pup’s cells stay protected and keep everything in working order. More mature dogs can find this beneficial as it helps them convert food into energy more efficiently and reduce anxiety levels, especially if you’re giving them vitamin B12. When given in water-soluble form, they’ll be flushed out with your dog’s urine rather than being stored in the body.
You might also want to consider vitamins A, D, and E, which are fat-soluble and are stored in the fatty tissues. Vitamins A and E are also antioxidants, and these are important for strengthening the immune system of your older dog and helping to repair tissues. They are also important for bone and eye health, along with healthy maintenance of the circulatory system.
What Mineral Supplements are Best for Older Dogs?
Alongside vitamins, there are some minerals that are becoming increasingly popular among dog owners because they help maintain healthy bones, teeth, joints, and cartilage as well as keeping their metabolism running nicely.
Minerals like magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus will help to strengthen your dog’s nerves, improve healthy blood clotting, and support other functions. They can also contribute to better heart health and can prevent or ease some neurological disorders that older dogs might be more prone to. Senior dogs are also sometimes at a higher risk of developing hormonal disorders like hypothyroidism and adding iodine mineral supplements to their diet can help to prevent and treat this.
Should I Give My Senior Dog Supplements to Help Digestion?
Just like humans, if you notice your dog is a little constipated, they could benefit from some extra fibre in their diet. Make sure you check the label of your dog food though because many manufacturers make sure fibre is already added to their food and too much can lead to your dog feeling unwell, being extra gassy or having some very messy poops.
If you want to give your dog some extra fibre, there are plenty of human foods that are perfectly safe in moderation. Wheat and oat bran, brown rice, fresh vegetables, pumpkin, and apples are some good natural sources of fibre but it’s important to remember that many fruits and vegetables contain natural sugar too which you don’t want to overfeed your dog.
Does My Dog Need More Fatty Acids In Their Diet?
We’re always being told how healthy fish is for us and the same applies to dogs because they’re rich in fatty acids. This is especially important as they get older. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are supplements that lots of humans take, and they can be especially beneficial for your pet when it comes to reducing inflammation. Senior dogs are often at a higher risk of inflammation compared to younger pups. Inflammation can occur due to a number of reasons including kidney problems, allergies, arthritis, and gastrointestinal problems.
When Is a Dog Considered Senior?
As a general rule, dogs tend to be considered senior when they have reached half of their life expectancy. Smaller dogs live to be around 15-20 years old, while larger dogs live to around 12-15 years. Smaller dogs start aging at around eight or nine years of age, while larger dogs begin aging once they reach around six years old.
When a dog is considered to be senior or geriatric will depend on lots of factors like their body weight and breed. Large and giant dog breeds tend to age faster in comparison to smaller dog breeds. Also, dogs that are overweight tend to age faster in comparison to dogs that are leaner.
What Special Dietary Needs Should I Consider For An Older Dog?
As your dog gets older, you’ll need to make some changes to their diet to adjust to their changing body and lifestyle. In general, senior and geriatric dogs tend to need a lower calorie diet to help with the prevention of obesity. If they’re not tearing around like a young pup or still enjoying their long hikes, they’re not going to be using as much energy and it’s important their diet reflects this. Their metabolism is also going to slow down which is another reason to keep an eye on their calorie intake. If they do start piling on the pounds, they’ll find it harder to shift them as they age.
Older dogs also tend to require a higher level of fibre in their diet to improve gastrointestinal health. You can usually find senior dog food formulations available from many dog food companies. Reputable dog food will usually be vet recommended (and you can always ask your own vet for advice) but make sure you’re checking they’re lower in calories and are designed with more of the nutrients that an older dog is going to need.
What Snacks and Treats Are Good For Older Dogs?
It doesn’t matter how old your dog gets, there’s probably one or two favourite treats that always get their attention. Whether you’re training or just indulging their request for a quick snack, there’s plenty of treats you can give an older dog that can be healthy too. You just need to make sure they’re low in fat and sodium so rather than grabbing their usual processed treats, look for something more natural. Chopped carrots and apples are popular with lots of dogs but be mindful of the natural sugars in them, many dogs even enjoy crunching on a small cauliflower floret which is packed with antioxidants.
Just remember to research before you feed anything new to your dog, some human foods like grapes and onions are poisonous to dogs.
Health Problems to Look Out For
It is not uncommon for dogs to experience more health problems in later life, just like humans. If your dog is getting older and you want to make sure they stay as healthy and happy as possible, then chat with your vet or veterinary nutritionist and put together a healthy and balanced diet for your dog. It is not uncommon for older pets to be at a higher risk of conditions such as liver disease, diabetes, or kidney failure, which will require a special diet to help manage their condition. Older dogs are also at a higher risk of heart disease, and dogs with this condition or a higher risk of developing it, will need to be fed lower-calorie dog foods that are low in sodium and designed for senior dogs.
Many people who have older dogs may also notice that getting them to eat can sometimes be more difficult compared to when they were younger. Just like humans, the older your dog gets, the more likely they are to lose their appetite. In this case, certain dietary supplements that come in tasty forms such as bone broth, can be used to not only make sure that your dog is getting the nutrients that they need but also to encourage them to eat more.