It can sometimes be difficult for pet owners to know when exactly is the right time to make changes to their pets diet, if ever. This is why we are here to help as it is important to re-evaluate your pet’s diet as they enter their senior years.
Older pets may need changes to their diet for several reasons:
- Metabolic energy requirements are often lower (dogs) or sometimes higher (older cats) in older pets
- As pets age, they often require more highly digestible ingredients, as their digestive capabilities are often reduced.
- Protein requirements change with age – often an increased amount of high quality protein is required to combat muscle wasting and other changes in the skin, hair coat and internal organs. Alternatively, sometimes lower protein diets are needed in specific diseases.
- Requirements for nutrients, such as vitamins and electrolytes, can increase when a pet is dealing with illness and disease.
- Several diseases can be “diet-sensitive” in the fact that a change in diet can improve symptoms or slow the progression of disease. Examples include:
- Osteoarthritis and cognitive dysfunction/decline – both respond to increased levels of Omega-3 fatty acids such as EPA and DHA in the diet.
- Another example is kidney disease which can be “diet sensitive” in the early stages.
- Often, older animals need more highly palatable (tasty!) foods, as they sometimes have a decreased sense of smell and taste. This may include adding in a high quality canned food.
There are many options for senior dog and cat foods out there. If you have any questions, give us a call. We would be more than happy to help you navigate your options, help you to understand ingredient lists and nutrient analysis and find a diet that is right for your pet.
– Becky Hunt, Registered Veterinary Technician