Best Diet for Senior Dogs
FEEDING YOUR SENIOR DOG FOR HEALTH AND LONG LIFE
Studies show that about 60% of domesticated dogs are overweight.
The most important thing you can do to help your dog stay healthy as it enters its senior years is to help it achieve its ideal weight and maintain that weight by feeding it a species appropriate High Protein, low carbohydrate diet like the IDEAL diet outlined in the pie charts below.
EXTRA WEIGHT IS HARD ON THE JOINTS
Excess weight is hard on the joints and if the joints are hurting you dog will be less likely to want to exercise.
EXERCISE IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT
Exercise is crucial to keep you dog healthy and your dog is less likely to want to exercise if it is carrying extra weight. Regular exercise is probably the most important thing you can do to keep your dog healthy next to feeding it a High Protein, regular fat, low carb diet. Dogs were designed to move.
THE ANATOMY OF A HEALTHY DOG FOOD
- High protein content of 33% to 43% on a dry matter basis (rather than 18% to 28% which is normal)
- Protein that is 85% to 95% animal protein (instead of vegetable protein)
- Fat from a quality named animal fat (ie. Chicken Fat versus Canola Oil or un-named fat sources)
- Amount of fat calories equal to the protein calories.(1 gram of fat = 9 calories and 1 gram of meat = 4 calories so 4% fat for each 9% of protein)
- Low in carbohydrates (33% or less)
- No high glycemic carbohydrates like grain and potatoes.
Achieving and maintaining your dogs ideal weight and feeding a high protein, balanced fat, low carbohydrate diet is the best thing you can do for your dogs health throughout its life and especially as it moves into its senior years.
A diet like this will help maintain your dog at its ideal weight and maintain a healthy level of activity. All you will need to do is adjust the volume of food you feed as it ages to maintain its ideal weight since the activity level usually decreases with age.
GAUGE FOR PROPER WEIGHT
The age old way to determine if your dog is the proper weight is to put your hands on each side of its rib cage. You should be able to feel its ribs but not see them from six feet away.
IF YOUR DOG NEEDS TO LOSE WEIGHT
The first thing I recommend is to NOT use any of the low-fat weight loss dog foods on the market because they are imitating human weight loss diets. When it comes to losing weight humans and dogs are quite different and low-fat diets for dogs are not effective and not healthy. Not only do they starve the dog to lose weight but they replace the fat they take out of the diet with even more carbs which caused the weight gain to begin with.
DOGS ARE DESIGNED TO EAT MEAT AND FAT
Dogs, wolves, coyotes, foxes, and jackals are all classified under the Order Carnivora (Carnivores) in the family Canidae, Genus Canis. They are all in the same family of Carnivores and are designed to eat the meat and fat of other animals. They have absolutely no need for carbohydrates - none whatsoever! Mother Nature designed them to get everything they need from animal protein and fat.
DOGS ARE CARNIVORES
Dogs are predominantly carnivores based on Mitochondrial DNA and anatomical traits they share with the other carnivores in the Canidae family.
Because dogs can be tricked into eating carbs flavored like meat does not make them omnivores and neither do the tests that show they can metabolize carbs. If it is true that dogs are evolving into omnivores, it is only to a very small degree.
NO OVERWEIGHT CARNIVORES IN THE WILD
In nature the members of the Canidae family eat the diet prescribed by Mother Nature, and none of them are overweight. Wolves have expanding stomachs and can eat 20 to 25 pounds of meat at one time yet they are never overweight. Meat and fat are what they are designed to eat and what their body is most efficient at metabolizing. When a dog eats meat and fat it converts the fat directly to glucose to power the cells and body. The protein is broken down into individual amino acids for growth and rebuilding. They metabolize 95% of the meat and fat they consume. Meat and fat do not raise blood sugar levels to the point where Insulin is needed, but carbohydrates do.
DOGS AND HUMANS USE CARBS DIFFERENTLY
Humans are designed to convert carbohydrates to glucose for energy, and dogs are designed to convert fat to Glucose. When dogs are fed too many carbs the elevated glucose levels trigger an insulin response that converts the glucose to glycogen and stores it in the liver. As Glycogen levels build up it is stored in the muscles as fat. Dogs convert fat directly into energy and Carbohydrates into stored fat.
DOGS DO NOT GET FAT FROM EATING FAT
THEY GET FAT FROM EATING CARBOHYDRATES
Dogs do not get fat from eating fat, they get fat from eating too many carbs. This is why human type low-fat diets, where the removed fat has been replaced with extra carbs, do not work well with dogs. Dogs convert the extra carbs to fat and store it.
Commercial kibble diets are lacking sufficient quantities of animal protein and fat and they are filled with far too many carbs - they are way out of balance
MEAT AND FAT versus CARBOHYDRATES
It is one thing to suggest that an animal that has been a carnivore for tens of thousands of years, has developed the ability to eat a few carbohydrates, but to feed them a diet that is 50% to 60% carbohydrates and lacking in animal protein and fat is clearly a bridge too far.
If you give a dog a choice between meat and carbs it is quickly apparent what they are genetically designed to eat, and much prefer. Dogs only eat the carbohydrates in dog food because they are flavored to taste like meat.
Claims that dogs can metabolize carbohydrates does not mean it is healthy for the dog to eat them, certainly not to the degree they are being used in dog food.
People are omnivores and can metabolize doughnuts but is anyone foolish enough to think they would be healthy eating a diet that is 60% doughnuts?
Dog owners have been led to believe the ingredients in most commercial dog food is healthy and appropriate for dogs. Bombarded with highly effective marketing, some of which is purposefully misleading, and conflicting theories from Veterinarian and nutritionists they can hardly be blamed for being unsure of how to choose a healthy dog food
Given all the misleading and confusing information who can you believe? I suggest you believe your dog. Its overall health, energy, and appearance, are a true reflection of the food it is eating. If it is not looking healthy and alert and at its proper weight I respectively urge you change to a healthier dog food.
THE COST OF HEALTHY FOOD IS NOT MUCH MORE
The sticker price on the bag is higher for healthy, nutritious food BUT you need to look at what it costs to feed your dog for the month to accurately compare prices because you usually have to feed 40% to 100% more of the regular food than the high protein nutritious food.
In the final analysis it doesn’t cost much more to feed healthy food than the poorer quality food, and that is just looking at the cost of the food itself. When you take into account Vet bills it will definitely be less expensive feeding that healthy, high protein food.
WHAT THEY CAN EAT versus WHAT THEY SHOULD EAT
The industry constantly pushes the idea that dogs are omnivores. They have done tests that show they can digest certain carbs and they claim this proves that it is healthy for dogs to eat grain, potato, and other carbs. However, they fail to consider that what an animal can eat and what it should eat are not necessarily the same thing.
DYSBIOSIS IS THE UNINTENDED RESULT OF A FAULTY DIET
Ingredients which are digestible can still have a negative impact on the overall system and Leaky Gut is a perfect example of this. High glycemic Carbohydrates create imbalance in the dogs gut (Dysbiosis) that eventually leads to Leaky Gut, where fecal matter leaks through the gut lining into the blood stream along with the Candida fungus and causes everything from ear infections to food allergies.
Meat and fat do not create Dysbiosis regardless of how much is in the diet.
Written January 12, 2023
by Richard Darlington, CEO
Brothers Dog Food, LLC
BLOG POST LINKS:
HEALING LEAKY GUT SYNDROME IN DOGS https://brothersdogfood.com/blogs/blog/healing-leaky-gut-syndrome-in-dogs
Leaky Gut Syndrome in Dogs https://brothersdogfood.com/blogs/blog/leaky-gut-in-dogs
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