As dogs age, their nutritional needs change.
To keep your dog healthy through old age, you’ll need to make some adjustments to your dog’s diet.
Those adjustments should take place early in your dog’s aging process.
Dogs are considered to be in their senior years about two thirds into their expected lifespan. This varies by breed and size of the dog. Generally, larger dogs have a shorter lifespan than smaller ones. For example, a Great Dane is expected to live 9 to 10 years, while my little Yorkie-Pomeranian mix lived to be 18 years old. Based on the above calculation, by age 12, I should have made some changes to my dog’s diet.
As these various health concerns start to come into play for your dog, you will have to be alert for other unusual changes as well.
Unfortunately, your dog can’t tell you what’s going on. So you need to be watching for signs that there may be a problem.
Often, one way to improve an aging dog’s lifestyle is simply a matter of switching to senior dog food. Senior foods are formulated to help improve the function of an aging dog’s internal organs.
Other changes to your dog’s diet may also be helpful. For example, adding a supplement to your dog’s diet could work wonders. Case in point: glucosamine and chondroitin are effective at treating joint-related issues in dogs, just as they are with humans.
Dog vitamins can also benefit some dogs — especially in their senior years.
This video shows how to make your own dog food with supplements:
During the last couple of years of my own dog’s life, changes came into play that required my attention. As he started losing teeth, I switched from the hard, dry dog food that had been his normal diet since his puppy years to a softer dry food that was easier for him to chew. Eventually, we switched to the moist Kibbles and Bits. By the time he had lost all his teeth, we switched to canned dog food since chewing was no longer an option.
Surprisingly, his overall health improved noticeably with the last of his teeth falling out. It’s really shocking how much bad teeth can affect your dog.
In his final days, when he could no longer handle even canned dog food (basically, when all his organs were starting to shut down), we switched to feeding him baby food. During the final stages, when he was refusing food altogether, he would accept milk.
It’s hard to watch your faithful companion finish out his life. Unfortunately, death is a natural part of life. There’s no easy way around it. The best we can do is provide proper nourishment throughout our dogs’ life and adjust to their changing health needs as they arise. Once your dog is gone, helps knowing that you did the absolute best that you could for him along the way.
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