It's no secret that diet and nutrition becomes increasingly important as we age, so why would it be any different for an older dog? Do to increased veterinary care and better understanding of canine health, many dogs are living to a ripe old age. The same food they ate in their prime may not be the right food for their golden years. The following guide can help you better feed your senior pooch.

Fight the paunch

Just likely people, dogs tend to become less active as they age. This, combined with a slower metabolism, can lead to weight gain. This is just as devastating healthy-wise for a dog as it is for a person. Dog food formulated for seniors typically contains less calories but still provides adequate protein. They may also have increased fiber, which helps your dog feel full while also keeping the digestive system running well.

It's also important to limit the treats and table scraps. Table scraps are rarely good for a dog, since many people foods can lead to stomach upset or health problems in your pet. As for treats, set a firm limit on how many a day. If this is too difficult, go for low-calorie treats. Many dogs are just as happy to get a piece of popcorn, a corner of a rice cake, or a piece of steamed broccoli. Just check with your vet to make sure any low-calorie, non-traditional treat is safe for dogs.

Look into supplements

Some older dogs may have trouble absorbing all the nutrition they need from their food. Fortunately, there are supplements available that can help. For example, older dogs with slow digestive systems or constipation problems may need more fiber in their diet. Your vet may recommend the addition of wheat bran to their food. You can also try adding broth to the food, which will help it break down more easily in their stomach. This can also soften the food for older dogs that may have trouble chewing.

There are also supplements that can help with common aging complaints. For example, adding glucosamine to the food, or providing a daily supplement, can help dogs that are beginning to suffer from arthritis or joint pain.

You may also need to consider special diets for more serious conditions, such as kidney problems. In this case, your vet may recommend a specific dog food or a prescription food that has all of the elements necessary to help with the condition. Talk with your vet to find out the best nutrition plan for your aging dog.

For more information, contact Clayton Veterinary Associates or a similar location.