Just as we all want to live more productively, we also hope that our pets will live longer and be happier. Many dogs live healthier and more active than in the past. The average life expectancy of a North American or European dog is 12.8 years. In the past 100 years, this has been a huge increase in life, mainly due to better food and better medical care. Older dogs, like the elderly, experience a great deal of aging and degeneration as a result of their age – older dogs are undergoing many physiological changes. It depends largely on the type of dog, and the metabolism and aging process change at different ages. Some of these factors are inevitable. Others can be managed through diet.
What is the definition of an old dog?
It is generally believed that if a dog's life span is the last third of its normal life, then it is "old". But like "age is just a number", many dogs look younger than their age. For example, an active, alert, naughty 10-year-old beagle, although of the same age, may be physically younger than a 10-year-old Danish big hound. Nowadays, small varieties can live for 20 years, and even large varieties can live for 10-12 years.
There are many reasons why dogs can live longer, including better preventive and therapeutic vaccines, parasite control products, and diagnosis and treatment. In addition, animal nutrition experts have a deeper understanding of the dietary needs that help with health and disease, as well as the differences that occur between young people and older people throughout their lives.
As we age, many changes in dogs are also developing and progressing, including degeneration of skin and fur, loss of muscle mass, more frequent bowel problems, arthritis, obesity, dental problems, and decreased ability to fight infection.
How does nutritional needs change with age?
According to an academic article, positive nutritional attitudes are the most important factor in improving the quality of life, especially at an age of progress.
What are the most important nutrients for older dogs?
As we age, the optimal range of key nutrients becomes narrower and narrower, making it easier for people to fall into inadequate or excessive diets.
Water: There is no doubt that the most important nutritional problem for older dogs is adequate water intake. Older dogs may not drink enough water to cause dehydration, and even mild dehydration can exacerbate existing conditions.
Protein: The demand for protein in older dogs does not decrease with age, and protein levels do not promote the development or progression of kidney failure. It is important to feed older dogs with optimal levels of high-digested protein to help maintain good muscle mass.
Fat: Older animals have a tendency to gain weight in the form of fat. It is important to reduce the fat content.
Minerals: Sodium and potassium are important in maintaining heart and kidney health. Excessive supplementation can cause damage. This is especially true for calcium and phosphorus, as the ratio of these two minerals must be supplied to the dog in an appropriate ratio to ensure healthy nutrition.
Carbohydrates: Always help to replenish energy.