Senior Dog Food: Protein, Fat, and Carbs
Last week, I discussed one of the longstanding myths that says that senior dogs should be fed a lower protein food. Although this approach was recognized as viable for many years, more recent research supports the notion that older dogs in fact, require higher amounts of protein, not lower amounts.
Unfortunately, the pet food industry has not yet caught up with current thinking. Approximately 5% of all dog foods are marketed as being appropriate for seniors. I calculated the average macronutrient values across these and compared them to the macronutrient values of non- senior specific foods. The results are shown in the table below.
|Average Macronutrients in Dog Food|
|Type||Protein %||Fat %||Carbs %||Kcals/cup|
As you can see, dog food formulations that target senior dogs contain, on average, more than 10% more carbohydrates (and thus a lower amount of protein and fat) than do non-senior recipes. This is exactly the opposite of what senior dogs need.
Checking for common filler ingredients also yielded a subpar result. A whopping 66% of senior dog food recipes contain rice, 38% contain wheat or gluten, 21% contain corn, and 18% contain soy. Again, these are not the kind of ingredients that a senior dog’s body needs.
As old habits (or profits) are hard to break, most of the senior dog foods on the market are formulated based on old thinking and the end result is a set of dog food products that are not necessarily appropriate for an older pet. Owners of senior dogs should be very wary of purchasing dog foods that are marketed for senior dogs, at least without checking the macronutrient profile and the ingredient list. The best way to keep a senior dog healthy, active, and living as long as possible is the combination of appropriate diet (e.g. not high carb!) and regular exercise.