If your pet is a senior, you’ll want to adjust their food intake. Geriatric diets help older pets meet the challenges of aging. You don’t need to be an expert to realize that, as pets get older, there is a reduction in their physical and mental capabilities. Just like humans, aging pets need special care. Their muscles weaken, their digestive systems and metabolism get slower and eyesight and hearing deteriorate. This means that older pets need different nutritional requirements. Specially formulated geriatric foods can be purchased from pet stores for senior canines and felines.
When metabolism slows, your pet’s energy is reduced. This means that your pet will require fewer calories. Geriatric foods contain less fat and protein, which will allow their metabolism the handle their food intake. Sense of smell and taste also become less keen, lessening their appetite, reducing food intake and, at times, causing weight loss. To aid aging pets, senior foods are higher in quality, but not in protein and fat. The effectiveness of the immune system makes your senior pet more prone to infection and diseases such as cancer. Senior foods contain additional Vitamin C and E, as well as omega fatty acids to help your pet meet these challenges.
Senior pets also suffer from decreased efficiency caused by reduced enzyme deficiency to the pancreas and a slowing of the intestinal tract. This leads to increased absorption of intestinal toxins, improper absorption of nutrients and constipation.
Another disadvantage to aging in pets is that the stomach sometimes doesn’t secrete enough stomach acid. This leads to diarrhea, flatulence and vomiting. Your pet will need carbohydrate and fiber intake increased to avoid these symptoms.
As your pet gets older, the liver absorbs more fat, which causes a decrease in function. This affects your pet’s ability to detoxify dangerous materials that might be ingested and to absorb medications properly. Secretions in the intestines live and enzymes are gradually decreased, affecting both digestion and intestinal function. It is therefore important to decrease protein and avoid obesity, which will put a strain on your pet’s organs.
Senior pets experience changes in kidney function. Kidney failure is one of the leading causes of death in senior pets. Symptoms include increase drinking and urinating. A diet that includes reduced phosphorous and protein can improve kidney function and minimize the risk of kidney failure.
Sodium intake needs to be drastically reduced in the diets of senior pets. This leads to better circulation to the kidneys and avoids high blood pressure. It also aids to slow the diagnosis of heart failure and kidney disease.
Older pets have far different vitamin and mineral levels than they did when they were young. Senior pet foods increase the levels of Vitamin B to aid in appetite and to aid in optimum kidney health. Many foods are also high in Vitamin E, which reduces damage to cells and aging.
If you provide proper nutrition for your senior pet, its quality of life will be improved because you will be preventing the onset of disease. If you have not already put your pet on a geriatric diet, do so today. Ask your veterinarian exactly what your senior pet’s diet should include and change to the proper diet as soon as possible to ensure that you and your pet enjoy each other’s company for years to come.
Note: Cats are seniors once they turn 10 years old. Dogs move into the geriatric classification when they are between 8 and 10 years old, depending on the breed.