What does the senior stage cover?

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It will be necessary for you to read dog food labels to make sure your senior dog is getting the best nutrition possible. As dogs age, their dietary needs change. When researching the best diet for a senior dog, it is important to keep in mind that individual dietary requirements and restrictions vary, depending on the size, health, and breed of the dog.

It might not be necessary to automatically switch your dog to a senior food if she’s healthy and doing well on adult maintenance. Both senior and adult dog food brands are required to meet the nutritional guidelines for adult dog food, since AAFCO (American Association of Feed Control Officials) only recognizes two life stages, one of them being adult maintenance. However, manufacturers are permitted to market a dog food as suitable for “all life stages” as long as it meets the more stringent guidelines for “growth and reproduction.” Other than that, though, there’s really no evidence that one is better than the other.

That said, obesity and weight gain is a problem for older dogs, because both metabolism and activity level slows down. If that’s the case, you may want to switch your pet to a senior food.

Senior dogs are more prone to kidney and liver problems than younger dogs, and your vet will probably order routine blood work at an upcoming checkup to check for these problems. If your dog has developed these problems or is at risk for them, your vet may recommend a modified diet. Older dogs have lower protein requirements and require more fiber in their diet, so offering your dog small amounts of vegetables and fruit, such as canned pumpkin, mixed with dog food, is a good idea.

Your dog may experience joint pain or other conditions where supplementation would be necessary. They are a good idea for dogs who do not receive the required amounts of minerals and vitamins from their diet. It’s important to remember, however, that all dogs are different and what might be good for one would be terrible for another—so always consult your veterinarian first!

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