Nutrition is Always The KEY— Take Care of Your Senior!

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Dr Divya Tiwari
Dr HP Singh
Dr RK Jain
For seniors, you need to be extra cautious and of course extra loving as well. Find out how you can keep your senior pet healthy and active with a proper diet and feeding routine. –by Dr Divya Tiwari, Dr Himanshu Pratap Singh, Dr RK Jain and Dr MK Mehta
A check on nutritional requirements is must
To understand the specific nutritional needs of older dogs it is necessary to know the major effect of aging on body systems. Dogs aged seven years and above are at an increased risk for age related illnesses. A thorough physical examination should be conducted including body weight, body condition score, skin examination and hair coat.
Complete physical examination is important
A thorough and complete physical examination should be performed to identify potential areas of nutritional concerns. The assessment should include –
• Obtaining detailed medical history
• Reviewing medical records
• Conducting a physical examination
• Diagnosis
Feed them right
When the assessment is done properly, next step is to develop an effective feeding plan. In most cases the current plan might work, while in some cases the vet might suggest some changes depending upon medical conditions such as age or overall health of your senior pet. Senior dogs can be as fussy as puppies when it comes to healthy eating. And nutritional status for healthy older dogs should be assessed at least every 6 to 12 months.
Plan for dietary database –
• Type of food given
• Brand name of commercial food
• Supplements given (if any)
• Change in food type or intake
• Frequency and interval of feeding
Nutrition is the key
Water all the time: Older dogs are more prone to dehydration due to effect of medications or chronic renal problems. Ensure drinking water available to them at all times.
Energy to monitor weight: The nutritional needs of dogs change with their stage of life and their lifestyle. Most commercial food for senior pets contains a reduced concentration of dietary fat and calories. Some food contains higher dietary fiber to further reduce the calorie density, thus helping in weight monitoring. Old dogs are prone to develop constipation, which justifies increased fiber intake. Addition of fibrous food is great for obese dogs. It dilutes calories and keeps them fuller for longer, thus helping in weight loss.
Renal troubles at bay: Some degree of clinical or subclinical renal diseases is often present in senior dogs. Increased level of phosphorus and calcium may advance renal problems. A low phosphorus diet will decrease effects of renal problems.
Check the requirements: Old dogs have tendency to lose weight. For these dogs increasing the fat content will help provide required energy, improve palatability, increase absorption of fat soluble vitamins and improve protein efficiency. Consult your vet.
Other nutrients under check: Healthy dogs do not experience a significant age-related decline in their ability to digest and absorb nutrients. Increased loss of water soluble nutrients such as potassium, B vitamins or fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin E and A should be taken care of. Laboratory records become more important in health screening of ageing dogs. All senior dogs should be examined for renal diseases and hypertension. Additional blood parameters should be evaluated based on history and physical examination findings.
(Dr Divya Tiwari, Dr Himanshu Pratap Singh, Dr RK Jain, Dr MK Mehta are from College of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry, MHOW, MP)
Life stages of your heartthrob
Dogs have three life stages –
• Puppyhood stage – birth to 1 year
• Maintenance stage – 1 to 8 years
• Seniority stage – 8 years onwards

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