Guide to Feeding Your Mature Dog
Guide to Feeding Your Mature Dog

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Guide to Feeding Your Mature Dog

Mature Dog Food: The Best Food for Ages 6 and Older

Dogs hit maturity around 7 years of age (5 years for larger dogs). It's not uncommon for them to live as long as 15 years. As your pet enters his golden years, his activity level might slow down and common conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease may arise. “It is so more important to monitor the eating habits of older pets,” stresses Tom Carpenter, DVM, president of the American Animal Hospital Association. “Generally, older pets do not need as much protein, sodium, and phosphorus. But your veterinarian needs to address this for your individual pet,” he says, adding that semiannual vet visits are recommended for an older animal.
 

Some mature dogs are prone to obesity. To test whether your dog is at a healthy weight, move your hands along his sides. If you can feel his ribs (but don't see them), he's doing okay. But if you feel a fat covering, or you visibly notice a rounded abdomen, he might be overweight. Exercise is still important for a senior dog, and if he's gained weight, you want to look for a low-fat weight-control food that contains vitamin-rich fish oils (IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult is one good choice).
 

Other mature pets can become finicky eaters and lose weight as they age. "Very old pets may actually need a more calorie-dense diet," Carpenter says. Older dogs can lose their sense of smell and have a harder time chewing their food. To make mature dog food easier to eat, you can top their dry food with room-temperature wet food.
 

If your dog is gaining or losing a lot of weight, slightly decrease or increase his daily feedings. A sudden change in weight or appetite might be a sign of disease, so you should check with your vet. Water is also essential. "Older pets are at a higher risk of dehydration," Carpenter says. Provide a clean bowl with fresh water at all times.

guide to feeding your mature dog
  • Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog
    Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog

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    Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog

    What Is Bloat?

    Bloat is a life-threatening condition that acts rapidly and can lead to death within hours if not recognized and treated immediately. Unfortunately, the cause of bloat remains unknown at this time.

     

    The scientific term for bloat is gastric dilatation-volvulus or GDV. Bloat is characterized by rapid and abnormal expansion of the stomach with gas (dilatation). This can be followed by rotation of the stomach (volvulus). This rotation closes both the entry to and exit from the stomach. The blood vessels also are closed down, and blood flow is restricted.

     

    What follows is an increase in pressure inside the stomach and compression of the surrounding organs. Eventually, shock will occur as a result of the restricted blood flow. Here are a few key facts about bloat:

    • Bloat should always be treated as a medical emergency.
    • Bloat can kill a dog within hours after onset.
    • The cause of bloat is unknown.
    • Bloat affects 36,000 dogs in the United States each year; 30% die as a result of this condition.
    • Bloat can occur in dogs of any age.
    • Certain breeds are more susceptible to bloat, particularly deep-chested dogs.
    • The stomach rapidly expands with gas then rotates on the long axis. Entry to and exit from the stomach is prohibited, causing blood vessels to close and restriction of blood flow.

     

     

    Signs of Bloat

    Bloat is a true medical emergency, and early identification and treatment is critical to survival.

     

    In the early stages of bloat, the dog will be very uncomfortable. You might see him pacing and whining or trying unsuccessfully to get into a comfortable position. He might seem anxious, might lick or keep staring at his stomach, and might attempt to vomit, without success.

     

    Other indications of bloat can include weakness, swelling of the abdomen, and even signs of shock. Signs of shock are increased heart rate and abnormally rapid breathing.

     

    If you notice these signs, call your veterinarian immediately!

     

    • Whining
    • Inability to get comfortable
    • Pacing or restlessness
    • Pale gums
    • Unproductive attempts to vomit
    • Abnormally rapid breathing
    • Increased heart rate
    • Anxiety
    • Pain, weakness
    • Swelling of the abdomen (particularly the left side)

     

     

    Helping Prevent Bloat

    These suggestions could help you prevent bloat in your dog. However, they are based on suspected risk factors and are not guaranteed to prevent the onset of bloat.

     

    • Feed small amounts of food frequently, two to three times daily.
    • Avoid exercise for one hour before and two hours after meals.
    • Don't let your dog drink large amounts of water just before or after eating or exercise.
    • If you have two or more dogs, feed them separately to avoid rapid, stressful eating.
    • If possible, feed at times when after-feeding behavior can be observed.
    • Avoid abrupt diet changes.
    • If you see signs of bloat, call your veterinarian immediately.

     

     

    Digestible Foods

    Another way you might help prevent bloat is to feed a high-quality, highly digestible food with normal fiber levels.

     

    Feeding management offers the best method available for reducing risk until the exact cause of bloat can be identified. Although not 100% effective, these measures can reduce the number of dogs that face this serious, life-threatening condition.

     

     

    High-Risk Breeds

    • German Shepherd
    • Bouvier de Flandres
    • Great Dane
    • Boxer
    • St. Bernard
    • Doberman Pinscher
    • Bloodhound
    • German Shorthaired Pointer
    • Irish Setter
    • Gordon Setter
    • Borzoi
    • Irish Wolfhound
    • Dachshund
    • Labrador Retriever
    • Basset Hound

    Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog
    Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog
    Recognizing the Signs of Bloat in Your Dog
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