How to Keep Small Breed Senior & Geriatric Dogs Healthy Together
Small breed dogs, less than 20 pounds, are seniors by the time they reach age 9 years old and geriatrics by age 12.
Fortunately, by adjusting our dogs healthy diet and other aspects of their care as they age, you can help your dogs stay healthier and live longer, more active and interesting lives.
Went to Contact your Veterinarian
Seniors need yearly check-ups with routine bloodwork. Check-ups may well serve some geriatric dogs every six months.
Contact your vet if you notice any significant changes in your dog’s health, behavior, appetite or appearance.
It’s always recommended to check with your dog’s vet before changing his diet or care.
NOTE: If your dog is receiving chemotherapy, please consult with a veterinary oncologist before feeding raw food.
How to Make an Old Dogs Healthy & Comfortable
As a small dog gets older, its body changes, and its nutritional requirements change too.
Here are three dietary changes that most senior and geriatric dogs benefit from:
- Increase Digestibility
The digestive organs of the older dogs rarely work as well as those of younger dogs. Improving digestibility helps prevent nutritional deficiencies and also reduces the strain of eliminating waste products on senior dog’s liver and kidneys.
If you’re feeding kibble, the best way to increase digestibility transition all or part of your dog’s diet to a more digestible form of food. This includes raw, frozen, freeze-dried, or canned.
2. Increase Moisture in Palatability
As dogs age, their reduce sense of smell leads some to become picky. Many small breed dogs may suffer from dental disease, making chewing kibble painful or even impossible.
Two of the organs at most risk for seniors in geriatrics are the liver and kidneys.
Transitioning all are part of a senior geriatrics diet to high moisture foods address all three of the senior conditions: improve palatability, easier chewing and reduce strain on processing organs.
3. Maintain Protein
Past studies done on rats led nutritionist to recommend low protein foods for senior and geriatric dogs, and many senior diets are still this way.
More recently, multiple studies done on dogs show that most senior geriatric dogs live longer, healthier lives when they eat a high-protein diet.
The one exception to this are dogs in end-stage liver or kidney disease. These seniors may feel better on a low protein diet. Unless your dog’s vet recommends a higher protein diet.
Most diets for seeing geriatric dogs have a minimum dry matter protein of 24%. This correlates to these minimum percentages of protein in the guaranteed analysis: for raw Frozen, 8% canned and pouch, 5% for kibble and freeze-dried foods 22%.
The following are some foods to consider first for most yet senior geriatric small breed dogs.
Here is a list of some foods to consider first for most senior geriatric small breed dogs.
- Canidae Grain Free Pure Fields Small Breed,
- Wellness CORE Small Breed,
- Nulo Salmon and Red Lentils Small Breed,
- Natures Variety Instinct Rawboost Small Breed,
- Wellness Small Breed Senior Turkey & Peas,
- Fromm Small Breed Gold,
- Wellness Adult Small Breed Health Whitefish, Salmon & Peas,
- Wellness Small Breed Adult Health,
- Merrick Classic Small Breed
If your adult small breed senior geriatric dog is in end-stage liver or kidney disease or your Vet recommends a low protein food for another reason, consider the following foods:
- Natural Balance Sweet Potato and Chicken,
- Natural Balance Vegetarian Canned Dog Food,
- AvoDerm Chicken & Rice Formula Weight Control
- First Mate Ocean Fish Senior
- Wellness Just For Seniors,
- Canidae Platinum,
- AvoDerm Chicken Meal & Brown Rice Formula Senior,
- Natural Balance Vegetarian,
- Fromm Senior Gold
Improve Dental Health with Treats
There are several ways to improve your dog’s dental health and reduce his need for full dental cleanings. If your dog can still chew well, give him a raw chicken neck twice a week, cut back on his food on these days.
Besides clean teeth, you’ll be giving him mental stimulation, natural enzymes, glucosamine and chondroitin.
If necks will work for your dog, give him a dental chew such as Arc Naturals Breathless, Etta Says Duck/Dear Chews, Emerald Pet Smileez.
If he doesn’t like to chew, you can still improve his teeth with Icelandic Kelp, Plaque Off, Mad About Organics Plaque Remover.
Improve Digestive Health with Prebiotic and Digestive Enzymes
70% of the dogs healthy immune system is in his digestive track. The healthier his digestive track, the stronger his immune system.
Supplementing a dog diet with pre-biotics feeds the good bacteria that play a large role both in digestion and an immune function.
And supplementing with digestive enzymes improves dog’s ability to fully use the food they eat and reduces the waste material that passes through the colon we’re good bacteria live.
Senior Dog Supplements that contain both digestive enzymes and probiotics are:
Improve Mental Health
In a recent study, 32% of dogs over 11 and 100% of dogs over 16 suffered from canine cognitive dysfunction.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Signs include:
- Increased barking,
- loss of house training,
- loss of hearing,
- spaced outlook,
- excessive licking and separation anxiety
Supplementing with antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids can improve the symptoms in 2 to 8 weeks.
Both can be found in all mushrooms supplements. Mitochondrial cofactor L-Carnitine also been shown to be beneficial.
What to Do With an Old Dogs Health Issues
As your dog ages, it's important to address other health issues suck as organ support, joint health, excess weight and your dog's skin and coat.
If your dog suffers from any of the issues below, they are likely to become worse as he ages.
Skin and Coat - Consider Canine Matrix Skin and Coat and Omega-3 fatty acids supplements, Salmon Pollock Oil, Ultra Oil, Primal Sardine Grind or Super Snouts Green Lipid Muscle.
Joint Health - More than half of US dogs suffer from osteoarthritis or joint disease, and many owners are completely unaware of it. Consider InClover Connection, HerbSmith Viscosity, Arc Naturals Joint Rescue, Super Snouts Green Lipid Muscle, or Grizzley Hip and Joint Aid.
Obesity - Obesity reduces longevity and quality of life and increases the likelihood of disease. The 2 Simplest Way to help a dog lose weight or reducing portion size and reducing fat counted. Make small consistent changes, not dramatic ones, and look to reduce weight gradually.
Vital organ support - The heart, liver, kidney, and immune systems of senior and geriatric dogs are weak and then often overburden with the slow build of toxins. HerbSmith Milk Thistle, Animal Essentials Detox, or Senior can help support the systems and naturally detoxify senior bodies.
Final Thoughts on Keeping Your Old Dogs Healthy
Updating your dog’s nutrition as he ages can increase his quality of life and possibly reduce or avoid developing age related disease.
Some results will become visible within weeks.
Other improvements and health may remain invisible to you throughout his life.