When you’re looking for the best canned dog food for senior dogs, it’s important to consider all the ingredients carefully. Older dogs have different nutrition requirements than younger dogs, just like puppies have different requirements than adult dogs. I’ve gone over this before with another article on food in general for senior dogs, but I’m going to recap for those of you who may not have read it. As dogs age, their energy requirements decrease. That means that they need less of some things like carbohydrates, and most importantly, calories. Today, we’ll be talking about older dogs and canned food. Because some elderly dogs just can’t handle crunchy food.
Older Dogs and Nutrition
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As dogs age, they become less active, just like us. Just like elderly humans, elderly dogs have to take it a little easier than younger dogs. Even the most energized older pooch is going to require shorter walks and shorter bouts of fetch. They just don’t have the stamina to keep up their former pace. They also sleep more. If you’ve ever had a senior dog, you know that napping is a big part of their day. Because of their age and decreased activity, these dogs have different nutritional needs than younger dogs.
I always start out with low calorie on my list of what dogs need, because all dogs benefit from staying lean. Obese dogs are more prone to cancer, diabetes, and joint and tendon issues. This all still applies to a dog who’s been around the block a few times, but in addition to that, they just don’t need the calories. A good senior food will have fewer calories than standard dog food.
Older dogs need fewer carbs in their diets for the same reason they need fewer calories. They just won’t use them. Carbs are an energy source, but when your dog sleeps for 18 hours a day, they don’t exactly need high-octane food. Most senior foods are low in carb, but check the label to be double sure. Excess carbs in the diet can lead to weight gain just like excess calories can.
It’s important for dogs to continue to get adequate protein even as they age. In fact, it’s even more important for older dogs, because they can lose muscle mass as they age. Make sure that your senior dog food has protein as the highest ingredient percentage to help your dog retain his muscle mass
Just like protein helps older dogs maintain muscle mass, adequate fat helps them maintain body weight. Many senior dogs will begin to lose body weight as they age. It’s important to ensure that their food has a good amount of fat in it to keep them at the correct body weight. Underweight dogs are generally less healthy.
Antioxidants are powerful compounds that help fight free-radicals. Free radicals are the leftovers from cell death. They are molecules that have nothing to bind to, so they start wreaking havoc on the body by trying to bind to EVERYTHING. This hurts the other cells. And since aging is really just the body shutting down super slowly, it pays to introduce a food with antioxidants to help keep our older dogs as healthy as possible.
There’s a huge debate on glucosamine right now. Some studies say it works, some say it doesn’t. I know I’ve seen it work first hand at the vet over and over again. Since dogs’ joints deteriorate as they age, look for foods that have glucosamine if possible. If not, your vet can recommend a supplement.
Omega Fatty Acids
Omega fatty acids are pretty much a head to toe plus for any dog. They’re especially important for older dogs, because they help the efficacy of antioxidants and promote healthy joints, skin, and coat.
What is the Best Canned Dog Food for Older Dogs?
You can find senior dog food around every corner these days. I must caution you NOT to buy the bargain basement stuff. It’s just garbage. You’re going to see ingredients like meat by-products, corn gluten, wheat, and other fillers. Meat by-products are basically whatever gets scooped up off the floor and off the machines. It’s nasty. Corn gluten, wheat, and other grains are NOT healthy for your dog. Canines were not meant to process that stuff.
While I do not advocate for any particular food for senior dogs, or any dog for that matter, there are some brands that I feel make a nice pool for you to choose from. These brands are recommended both by vets and owners and have been shown to be exceptionally high quality. They all come in different flavors, and wet varieties. Some of these companies have specific senior foods and some don’t. However, they do have high protein, low carb foods which is good for older dogs.
Older Dogs – Good Food Keeps Them Great
One of the biggest ways we can help our older dogs live longer, happier lives is to feed them excellent food. The right food can keep our older dogs healthier, happier, and more active longer, and we all want that. I highly encourage all owners of older dogs to look into high-quality senior food. The above companies are known to be excellent quality with great ingredients, so check them out.
Have you already found the best canned dog food for seniors? Share your favorites in the comments!