If your elderly dog is "off his feed" and doesn't attack his bowl of kibble like he used to, try some home cooking. Homemade meals can be a healthy alternative to store-bought kibble if they're prepared with your dog's needs in mind. And he'll be thrilled you made it yourself.
Seniors' Nutritional Needs
In general all dogs need the same basic essentials in their diets. Protein, fats and carbohydrates are all necessary to keep your dog healthy. You'll need to do some adjusting for your geriatric pooch, though. As your dog ages his protein needs stay the same, but his metabolism slows down. That means he'll need to get the same amount of protein but do it while taking in less calories. Increase the fiber, cut the carbs and use sources of lean protein like poultry, fish, lamb or extremely lean beef to accomplish this.
To assure that your older dog is getting all of the vitamins and minerals he needs, you might consider adding some human grade bonemeal and a few drops of a vitamin supplement to the food you make for him. Omega-3's are another supplement that you can add that will help keep your dog's joints and heart healthy as well as keep his coat shiny and soft.
Talk To Your Vet
Once you have a plan and know what you want to put into your elderly dog's homemade meals, talk to your vet to get advice on foods and nutrients that your dog might need based on his health. Certain medical issues like kidney disease, heart disease or diabetes may affect what ingredients you can use in your dog's food and how much of it you can put in. Show your vet the recipe you intend to use and get his thoughts. He'll also be the best person to ask about vitamin supplements. Just because your dog is older doesn't mean that he has a vitamin deficiency. Instead of OD'ing your dog on vitamins, make sure your vet recommends adding them -- or any supplement -- to his meals.
Basic Senior Recipe
A basic dog food recipe that will be tasty and healthy for your senior citizen canine is easily made by crumbling 1 pound of ground turkey into a large pot containing six cups of water and one teaspoon of dried rosemary. Stir to distribute the turkey and rosemary evenly and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once the mixture boils, reduce the heat to low and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. Add 8 ounces of frozen vegetables, like carrots, broccoli and cauliflower -- thawed and cut into small pieces -- and cook for five minutes more. Remove the pot from the heat and allow it to cool to room temperature before you feed it to your dog. Store the leftovers in the fridge in a covered container.
Elle Di Jensen has been a writer and editor since 1990. She began working in the fitness industry in 1987, and her experience includes editing and publishing a workout manual. She has an extended family of pets, including special needs animals. Jensen attended Idaho and Boise State Universities. Her work has appeared in various print and online publications.