Like people, aging dogs suffer from geriatric difficulties and can garner benefits from adding nutritional supplements to their diet. Nutritional supplements, coupled with a healthy diet, can improve an older dog's quality of life. Your vet might recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement if your older dog does not receive adequate nutrition from his food.
When It's Necessary
Prior to adding nutritional supplements to your dog's diet, understand the anatomical transformations happening to your older dog. These changes make it difficult for senior dogs to meet their nutritional requirements from a normal dog food diet alone. Older dogs don't digest their dietary intake as efficiently as when they were younger. This often occurs as part of the natural aging process, when a dog's metabolism slows and he exercises less, or because your senior dog has lost his appetite for food. The aging process is different for all dogs, and each dog must be assessed on an individual basis. Such assessments are based on the dog's age, health, breed and environmental conditions.
Responsible dog owners understand the importance of a nutritional assessment of their dogs' health, especially as their pets get older. Once-daily senior vitamins are high-potency nutritional supplements designed to provide the vitamins, minerals, fats, protein, fiber and other nutrients your older dog needs. The essential ingredients found in one-a-days for dogs include calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and zinc, and the vitamins A, D, E and B12. The vitamins also include minerals such as thiamine, riboflavin and niacin. Daily nutritional supplements usually include dietary fiber for digestion, colon function and to ward off constipation in older dogs.
Much like humans, dogs experience inflammation and joint deterioration as they get older. Arthritic flare-ups are common in canines, and just like with humans, the supplement glucosamine chondroitin has proven benefits. Fortify your senior's diet with the supplements glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate and omega-3 fatty acids. Both have been proven beneficial to relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs. As dogs age, the beneficial intestinal bacteria become depleted, which can lead to gastrointestinal disease. Senior supplements for dogs should contain FOS (fructooligosaccharides) to encourage the cultivation of beneficial bacteria.
What Age is Old?
Veterinarians usually consider a dog's life periods in thirds, labeling the last third of his normal life expectancy as "older." The considerations for this equation include size, breed and environmental conditions. A large breed, such as a great Dane, has a normal life expectancy of nine years, so he becomes a senior at age 6. A smaller dog, such as a toy poodle, might normally 15 years, so he'll reach old age at 10 years old. This is not an exact formula for age calculation, and many variables exist. It is important to consult with a qualified veterinarian before initiating any dietary changes for your dog. A routine veterinary exam, including a blood test, will help you decide and plan for when your dog's physiology starts changing.