What’s The Best Diet For Senior Dogs? Anna Webb Explains How A BARF Diet Could Improve Your Dog’s Life

Being aware of an older dog’s dietary needs can enhance its golden years by optimising health, promoting mobility and preventing disease. We often dismiss signs of ageing – perhaps being in denial of how time flies or resisting any change. Did you know that feeding biologically appropriate raw food (BARF) is the best diet for senior dogs? It provides functional proteins and fats, which in the correct quantity are invaluable to your senior dog.

Many overly processed foods contain between 30% to 70% grains that can fuel oxidation and have a pro-inflammatory effect. These are inappropriate for dogs to eat because dogs are obligate carnivores, not omnivores like us, and cannot digest the grains. In addition, highly processed foods can cause kidney problems through a lack of water content. In this blog I’ll highlight how a biologically appropriate diet can prove there’s life in your old dog yet! 

How much should I be feeding my older dog?

Every dog is an individual but generally dogs from eight years consume 18 per cent fewer calories than some breed dogs younger than six years.  With slower metabolisms they do require less energy and special attention should be taken to avoid weight gain by adjusting the calorie intake accordingly. 

Should I reduce my dog’s protein intake?

Many recent studies concur that it’s a misnomer that too much protein has a negative effect as dogs age. Dietary protein does not overwork the kidneys or impair their function in an otherwise healthy oldie. In fact, older dogs require slightly more protein. This is because protein minimises the loss of lean body mass that’s synonymous with ageing. Plus, protein reserves are important in a dog’s natural response to stress, including disease, infection and injury, so senior dogs benefit from moderate to high amounts of high quality, readily bio-available dietary protein. 

Could feeding a BARF diet prevent cognitive decline? 

No one can turn back the sands of time, but a lot can be done to counter the effects of oxidation which can cause ageing at a cellular level, resulting in a decline in cognitive function.  Dementia in dogs, or canine cognitive dysfunction, seems to be on the rise and, like in people, typical signs include: disorientation, hesitancy to interact, destructive behaviours, disrupted sleep patterns and impaired learning and memory. If ‘you are what you eat’, feeding as nature intended on a raw diet fuels the immune system at a cellular level. Packed with natural essential amino acids and essential fatty acids, Poppy’s Picnic enhances its meals with functional superfoods, including coconut oil, which is known to help cognitive function as a medium chain fatty acid.  

How important is Vitamin C intake to older dogs? 

Vitamin C intake is important to older dogs because they have a decreased ability to fight disease, creating the potential for health problems. Dogs (unlike people) manufacture some Vitamin C by synthesising glucose in the liver and the kidneys into ascorbic acid (Vitamin C). Nonetheless older dogs can benefit from fresh, functional Vitamin C and other antioxidants found, for example, in berries and leafy greens. Poppy’s Picnic ensures their biologically appropriate meals combine seasonal dog-friendly vegetables and greens like wheatgrass and fresh parsley that provide specific nutrients that help promote a healthy immune system. 

Can feeding raw help prevent arthritis?  

Osteoarthritis is an inflammatory condition affecting the joints and cartilage and is the most common form of arthritis in dogs. Larger breeds like German Shepherds and Labradors who may have congenital hip and elbow issues are often more likely to suffer from the condition. Nobody is invincible to ageing, but it’s not inevitable that every dog will get arthritis, which is caused by inflammation in the joints. A raw diet features as part of a preventative, multi-disciplinary approach to reducing symptoms. Feeding processed kibble, which comprises between 30-70% grains and starch produces an inflammatory effect at a cellular level.

Whereas a raw, nutrient rich, complete and balanced diet offers an anti-inflammatory effect. An awareness of over exercise and micro injuries caused by slippery floors from puppyhood offers preventative care. Plus physical therapies like massage, physiotherapy and ‘red-light’ promote healing and mobility in the joints.

What is the relationship between obesity and osteoarthritis?

Heavier bodies put extra pressure on the joints, but there’s evidence that the relationship between osteoarthritis and obesity goes further than just the wear and tear on joints. Studies concur that fat cells are pro-inflammatory and create an inflammatory response in the joints and cartilage. This suggests it’s a vicious circle: Being overweight not only increases the risk of osteoarthritis, but increases its symptoms by actively causing inflammation. As over 50 per cent of Britain’s dogs are now considered overweight or obese, pooches are suffering from the same obesity related health conditions affecting the human population like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis. Just as people are being advised to steer clear of processed, pre-prepared meals, the same is true for our best friends. 

Anna Webb – Broadcaster, Author, has studied natural nutrition and therapies with the College of Integrated Veterinary Therapies (CIVT). She lives in London and is owned by Prudence a Miniature Bull Terrier and Mr Binks, a re-homed English Toy Terrier.  www.annawebb.co.uk

Poppy’s Picnic’s EHANCED range is perfect for older dogs because it is superboosted with berries, seeds and botanicals. To shop our raw dog food, click here. If you have any questions about diets for older dogs, our VIP (Very Important Paws) team is always happy to help. Just email woof@poppyspicnic.co.uk or call 01380 716 599. 

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