Hi stranger! Signing up for MypetMD is easy, free and puts the most relevant content at your fingertips.

Get Instant Access To

  • 24/7 alerts for pet-related recalls

  • Your own library of articles, blogs, and favorite pet names

  • Tools designed to keep your pets happy and healthy



or Connect with Facebook

By joining petMD, you agree to the Privacy Policy.


petMD Blogs

Written by leading veterinarians to provide you with the information you need to care for your pets.

Subscribe to
Nutrition Nuggets
 
 
Your dog's nutrition is important for a healthy & happy life. petMD experts help you to know what to feed your dog, how much food to feed, and the differences in dog foods, so your dog gets optimum nutrition.
Nutrition Nuggets is the newest offshoot of petMD's Dog Nutrition Center. Each week Dr. Coates will use her expertise and wisdom to blog about the intricacies of dog nutrition.

Why Your Senior Dog May Not Need a Senior Food

November 15, 2013 / (2) comments

Do you feed your older dog a senior dog food, or are you planning to do so when he reaches a certain age? If so, you might be interested in a few facts about dog foods that are ostensibly designed for the canine senior citizens among us.

 

First of all, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has not developed specific nutrient recommendations for older dogs. Pet food manufacturers can pretty much call any food they make a “senior” diet so long as it complies with AAFCO’s adult maintenance guidelines. Pet food companies often tout what makes their senior dog foods special (e.g., enhanced antioxidant levels, added omega-3 fatty acids, and the presence of glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate to promote joint health), but taking a closer look at the labels shows just how similar senior and adult maintenance foods are.

 

Here are examples of two ingredient lists taken from the labels of a well-respected pet food company’s adult maintenance and senior foods:

 

Adult Maintenance

Chicken, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Barley, Brewers Rice, Chicken Fat, Chicken Meal, Pea Protein Concentrate, Dried Beet Pulp, Flaxseed, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli), Potassium Chloride, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Taurine, Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors

 

Senior

Chicken, Brown Rice, Whole Grain Oats, Whole Grain Barley, Brewers Rice, Yellow Peas, Chicken Fat, Chicken Meal, Dried Beet Pulp, Chicken Liver Flavor, Lactic Acid, Flaxseed, Vegetable & fruit blend (Green Peas, Apples, Cranberries, Carrots, Broccoli), Potassium Chloride, Calcium Carbonate, Iodized Salt, Choline Chloride, vitamins (Vitamin E Supplement, L-Ascorbyl-2-Polyphosphate (source of vitamin C), Niacin Supplement, Thiamine Mononitrate, Vitamin A Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin D3 Supplement), Taurine, minerals (Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Manganous Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Sodium Selenite), Mixed Tocopherols for freshness, Phosphoric Acid, Beta-Carotene, Natural Flavors.

 

Pretty similar, aren’t they?

 

When we look at the nutrient profiles of the two foods, some differences do become apparent. For example, the adult maintenance food is 22.5 % protein and 17.6 % fat, while the senior food is 20% protein and 15% fat, but that begs the question, “Should all older dogs be eating less protein and fat than what they were eating when they were younger?” or more generally, “Do all older dogs have the same nutritional needs?” Of course they don’t.

 

A lower protein food might be beneficial for a dog with compromised kidney function; a low fat food could help an older dog stay slim; and both kidney disease and weight problems do become more common as a dog ages. But the reverse does not necessarily hold. What if an older dog has great kidney function, is active, but doesn’t have the greatest of appetites? That individual might actually need a food that is relatively high in protein and fat.

 

I don’t mean to imply that senior dog foods are bad. I’m simply saying there are times when an adult food might be more appropriate for a senior dog, or even times when a senior food might be a better choice for a younger dog. Owners and veterinarians need to evaluate an individual dog’s nutritional needs and pick the best type of food to meet those needs … regardless of his or her age.

 

Dr. Jennifer Coates

 

Image: fotoedu / Shutterstock

 

Subscribe to Nutrition Nuggets

Comments  2

Leave Comment

 



ABOUT NUTRITION NUGGETS

JENNIFER COATES, DVM

Photo of Jennifer

... graduated with honors from the Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine in 1999. In the years since, she has practiced veterinary medicine in Virginia, Wyoming, and Colorado. She is the author of several books about veterinary medicine and animal care, including the Dictionary of Veterinary Terms, Vet-Speak Deciphered for the Non-Veterinarian .

Jennifer also writes short stories that focus on the strength and importance of the human-animal bond and freelance articles relating to a variety of animal care and veterinary topics. Dr. Coates lives in Fort Collins, Colorado with her husband, daughter, and pets.

  • Lifetime Credits:
  • Today's Credits:
Hurry Before All Seats are Taken!
Enroll
Be an A++ Pet Parent! Take fun & free courses to earn badges & certifications. Choose a course»

Poll

How often do you read the label on your dog’s food?


 
MORE FROM PETMD.COM