Don’t Make These Assumptions when Switching To a Senior Pet Food
Look out for these Senior Pet Myths
Now that your pet has reached the age of 7 – he or she is considered to be a senior.
Pets don’t magically age overnight and suddenly develop old age illnesses around a special age. Over the years we’ve seen many active and healthy 12 year old pets that check out clinically better than some of their 5 year old counterparts.
Animals are as unique and individual as we are and there are no hard and fast rules for determining when we should be changing their diet to accommodate the ageing process.
The only person qualified to recommend dietary changes for your pet is your vet (who is well versed in nutrition) based on both a clinical examination and a diagnostic profile of your pet’s inner health.
The one size fits all approach to Senior Pet Food Formulas
Ask anyone about advice on which brand of pet food is best for your dog or cat and they will generally ask your pet’s age. If your pet is 7 or over, you’ll most likely be steered towards a senior formulation without critical knowledge of your pets current health status.
This recommendation is based on the assumption that all senior pets suffer from conditions A, B and C – which is wrong.
Worse still this person most likely has no qualifications in animal nutrition and what little knowledge they do have comes courtesy of the pet food manufacturer alone. This is not unbiased nutritional advice.
While we agree that there are one or more disorders generally associated with ageing, it is not wise to assume that all pets have them at a given age.
Senior Pets Need More Fibre, Less Calories and Less Protein in Their Diet
While it is true that as pets age they may become less mobile, watching their daily calorie intake does becomes important. Obesity in pets of any age is a major problem and can lead to a whole range of degenerative diseases.
If you notice your pet becoming a littles less active then the first thing that needs to be addressed is pain. It stands to reason that if your pet is suffering from painful joints or arthritis – they will slow down because it hurts them to be active. Ask your vet for a pain assessment of your pet first.
Don’t assume that switching to a senior pet food will magically solve this problem. Have your pet properly checked out by your vet before making this assumption and manage any underlying pain or other health conditions first.
It used to be thought that too much protein had a detrimental effect on ageing kidneys so many senior diets are formulated on this premis. Current knowledge actually suggests that senior pets need more protein for cells that are being replaced at a rate faster than for younger dogs .For this quality “Highly digestible” proteins are needed. As a pet ages, the efficiency of the GI system decreases so it stands to reason that the type of proteins included in the diet must be easily assimilated in order to provide the necessary nutrition.
Good sources of highly digestible proteins include eggs and muscle meats. Not to be confused with less digestible cereal proteins.
Fibre is often touted as a nutritional benefit which can be misleading if it claims to contribute to quality protein content. Most often is just an inexpensive filler ingredient. Corn and wheat are not suitable ingedients in a healthy species appropriate dog or cat food diet – at any age.
The best way to determine what natural and commercial foods are best for pet is to do your own research based on your vet’s recommendations for your senior pet’s unique requirements. Maybe you’ll discover that what you have been feeding up until now is totally appropriate and there’s no need to change.
It’s worth it!