Nutrition for Ageing Pets
You may have noticed a few grey whiskers, joint stiffness and a general ‘slowing down’ as your pet ages, however their body also goes through various changes on the inside including changes in metabolism, immune system, and organ function. These changes can impact their nutritional needs, making it crucial to provide them with a diet that meets their specific requirements.
Additionally, ageing pets are more susceptible to various health issues, and a balanced diet can help manage or prevent these issues. Proper nutrition can also improve their overall quality of life, keep them at a healthy weight, maintain their muscle mass, and support their cognitive function.
Essential Nutrients for Senior Pets
Protein, fat, and carbohydrates are all essential nutrients that play a critical role in diets for senior cats and dogs.
Protein is necessary for maintaining and repairing muscle and tissue, and it is especially important for senior pets who may be experiencing muscle loss due to ageing. High-quality protein sources such as meat, poultry, and fish can also provide essential amino acids that are vital for various bodily functions, including immune function.
Fat is an essential nutrient that provides a concentrated source of energy for cats and dogs. Fat can also help maintain healthy skin and coat and support joint health. However, it's important to ensure that senior pets consume appropriate levels of fat as excess fat can lead to obesity and other health problems.
Carbohydrates provide energy for the body and are a source of dietary fibre, which can help regulate digestion and maintain bowel health. However, some senior pets may have trouble digesting certain types of carbohydrates, and diets with excessive carbohydrate content can lead to weight gain and other health problems.
Older cats and dogs also require a balanced diet that includes essential vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining health and immune function.
Water intake is incredibly important for senior pets as they are more susceptible to dehydration and related health problems than younger animals. Adequate hydration is necessary for various bodily functions, including digestion, circulation, and temperature regulation.
Senior pets may also have a decreased sense of thirst, and some may experience age-related changes in their kidneys that can impact their ability to retain water. This means that it's crucial to ensure that they have access to clean, fresh water at all times, and that they are encouraged to drink regularly.
Wet or canned food typically has a higher water content than dry food. Furthermore, providing multiple water sources throughout the house will also make it easier for your pet to drink.
Managing Common Health Issues with Nutrition
Prescription diets targeting age related health issues such as arthritis, dental hygiene and kidney disease are essential for maintaining health and wellbeing in older pets.
Arthritis: Nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, can help reduce inflammation and promote joint health in senior pets with arthritis. A diet that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and antioxidants can also help manage inflammation and reduce joint pain. Weight management is also important for managing arthritis in senior pets, as excess weight puts additional strain on joints.
Dental problems: A diet that is rich in crunchy and chewy foods can help promote dental health by reducing plaque and tartar buildup. Nutritional supplements, such as enzymes and probiotics, can also promote good oral health by supporting the growth of beneficial bacteria in the mouth.
Kidney disease: Senior pets with kidney disease may benefit from a diet that is lower in protein and phosphorus, as high levels of these nutrients can put additional strain on the kidneys. A diet that is also rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and promote overall kidney health. It's important to work with a veterinarian to determine the appropriate diet for a pet with kidney disease, as nutritional needs can vary depending on the severity of the condition.
Overall, proper nutrition is essential for helping senior cats and dogs maintain optimal health and vitality, and for managing common health issues. A balanced diet that is tailored to a senior pet's specific needs can help reduce symptoms, improve overall health and quality of life, and even prevent certain health problems from developing in the first place.
The best way to ensure that your pet is getting the appropriate nutrition for their age is to book a regular wellness check with our vets every 6-12 months. We will be able to monitor any changes as they occur and recommend dietary modifications if needed. Regular blood tests can also help identify any changes in your pet's health over time, identifying any underlying issues that may need to be addressed.