How Often Should I Feed My Senior Dog?

Now that your dog is older, it’s likely that their nutritional needs have changed. In this article, we’ll take an up-close look at feeding the senior dogs, plus we’ll offer helpful feeding tips. Keep reading to learn how often to feed a senior dog and much more.

How Can I Tell My Dog is a Senior?

Senior Dog

According to the American Kennel Club, not all dogs are considered seniors at the same age. Large dogs are considered seniors around age 6, while small breeds are considered seniors a bit later, somewhere between the ages of 7 and 10.

As dogs get older, many exhibit specific signs of aging.

The American Kennel Club provides a list of mental and physical changes that indicate a dog is entering their senior years. These include:

  • Gray or white hair begins to show on the muzzle and around the eyes
  • Weight loss may occur
  • Lower activity in general; more time spent napping
  • Cloudiness may gradually develop in the eyes
  • Increased barking, often for no reason the owner can detect 
  • Compulsive or repetitive behaviors 
  • Your dog may show signs of stiffness, particularly when getting up after lying down

Even though all of these signs of canine aging can be normal, it’s important to discuss them with your vet and find ways to keep your pet as comfortable as possible during their senior years as well as find out how to feed the senior dog.

Choosing the Right Diet for Senior Dogs

Right dog diet

As your dog gets older, their nutritional needs change. Experts at PetMD provide ample advice on the topic, mentioning that older dogs need fewer calories in general, and they need food that is easy to digest so that their bodies can extract as many nutrients as possible. Senior dog food is specially formulated to be higher in protein and fats than standard dog food recipes, and it has more fiber for better digestibility.

Because many older dogs have dental problems, it can be important to choose senior dog food that is easy to chew.

Some senior dog foods have additional nutrients including glucosamine and chondroitin, which can help keep their musculoskeletal system in better health as time passes.

Foods Senior Dogs Should Avoid

Toxic food for dogs

While feeding the senior dog avoid obvious toxins including grapes, chocolate, and onions. If a certain food seems to cause digestive distress it’s best to leave it off your dog’s menu and mention the issue to your vet. 

Some senior dogs do need special diets; for example, veterinarians at VCA Hospitals warn that dogs at risk for developing liver and kidney disease require lower protein diets. Your dog’s veterinarian can help you choose a medically appropriate diet if needed so it will be easier for you to understand how to feed the senior dog.

How often do veterinarians recommend feeding a senior dog?

Unless your senior dog has a medical condition that requires a special senior dog feeding schedule, veterinarians at PetMD and the American Kennel Club recommend sticking to the same feeding schedule you’ve maintained throughout your pet’s lifetime.

Most senior dogs should be fed twice per day – once in the morning, and once in the evening. If your dog is accustomed to eating three meals per day, you can keep up that routine, so long as you’re feeding high-quality senior dog food and offering the correct amount.

To Sum Up How to Feed the Senior Dog

Your senior dog needs good food with all the right nutrients; it’s essential for healthy aging. As it turns out, feeding the senior dog an age-appropriate diet is more important than how often you feed them.