Facts about Older Dogs Nutrition

Have you ever questioned, what is in pet food, and how healthy is pet food for our pets?

I know I have, and very confused about misleading information and facts out there about our pet food.

Firstly, what happens when our dogs become senior.

  • Metabolism and energy levels can slow down and their need for calories generally decreases, due to a loss of lean tissue mass and a gain in fat mass, which can lead to weight gain if the amount of food or diet fed is not adapted accordingly.
  • Senior dogs may show a drop in activity levels and may sleep more. This could be down to a natural slow down or it could be as a result of arthritis or joint problems, which can be common in older dogs. Weight management is very important for addressing this.
  • The immune system may need some extra support
  • Dental issues can pose a problem, making chewing more difficult.
  • The senses of smell and taste can become affected and, as dogs depend very much on these senses, affected individuals may eat less because their food may appear less tasty to them.
  • A senior dog may experience a decrease in appetite and it could be as a result of some of the above changes, but the first step is to rule out any underlying health issues with your veterinary surgeon. Several health conditions more associated with old age, such as kidney disease, arthritis, heart disease and cancer, may result in weight loss.
  • Many veterinary practices run senior care programmes, which can help to pick up on any health issues at an early stage. As with every life stage, nutrition can play a key stage, nutrition can play a key support role as a dog goes through physiological changes.

Diets for seniors

Not all mature or senior dogs are the same or have the same nutritional needs and your veterinary surgeon will be best placed to guide your.

Broadly speaking, senior dogs can be divided into two categories from a nutritional perspective: those who have poor appetite and less efficient digestion and therefore need more food, and older dogs who continue eating at the normal rate but have a more sedentary lifestyle and therefore require less food.


  • An older dog will need a well-balanced diet that is lower in calories and fat but higher in fibre.
  • Special dietary fibres can help support gastrointestinal health.
  • Senior diets can have a softer texture and use highly digestible ingredients.
  • Research has shown that some ingredients can help maintain mobility, for example the omega 3s and ingredients like chondroitin and glucosamine. Many manufacturers will include these.
  • Recent research shows that certain antioxidants and DHA, an omega 3 fatty acid, can benefit senior dogs in terms of cognitive maintenance. The research found that older dogs provided with a diet rich in antioxidants were able to complete difficult tasks and were less likely to suffer from are related behaviour. They were also able to recognise family members more easily and retained greater agility. Many manufacturers use such antioxidants in their diets.

Always consult with your local vet for the best advice.

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