What’s true (and not true) regarding senior diets for dogs? HEAR veterinary nutritionist Dr. Lisa Freeman at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University talks with me on my national Steve Dale’s Pet World radio show.
Just like humans, dogs change as they age. One common change is muscle loss, or sarcopenia. This is normal, but may affect a pet’s strength, immune function, and quality of life. Freeman adds that we have more geriatric dogs than ever before, so she’s also seeing more cachexia, or weight loss, and deterioration in physical condition, often due to heart disease, cancer, or another medical problem (or combination of medical problems). When you see muscle or weight loss, it’s important to have your veterinarian examine the pet to determine if there’s an underlying medical condition. A poor or inappropriate diet could be a contributing factor.
So, what should you feed your senior pup? Senior pet foods are not required by law to have anything different in them than any other food intended for adult pets. Freeman talks about the research she’s done regarding senior diets. A healthy older dog may not even require a senior diet, she says.