When you’re looking after an elderly dog, it’s even more important to get their diet spot on, than when they were younger. Older animals can’t tolerate high levels of proteins or fats and need to eat a diet that meets their specific nutritional needs. They generally need less energy, and a bit more fibre, and although they need a reasonable amount of protein to keep them in shape, too much will put a strain on their kidneys. Ideally you should feed a diet based on proteins like chicken and fish that can be used most efficiently, and avoid foods with beef and other red meat proteins.
The best way of making sure your older dog is getting just the right mix of nutrients he needs is to feed him a top quality dried complete food. Choose one without artificial additives like preservatives and flavourings, and aim for a protein level of around 18-24% (adult dog foods usually have about 22-28% protein).
Our new Vet’s Kitchen Senior food is ideally balanced for older dogs, with fresh salmon, added omega 3 fatty acids for healthy skin, coat and immune system, added taurine for cardiac health, prebiotics for the digestive system and nucleotides for the immune system. The recipe also contains high levels of glucosamine and chondroitin to help maintain mobility in the older dog.
As well as a feeding a top quality complete food, you can also supplement this with some tasty home-cooked recipes and here are some of my favourites for older dogs:
White Fish and Rice
Dog food doesn’t get much healthier than this, and the added coriander will help tickle the older dog’s taste buds. It’s got a moderate level of protein, which is all highly digestible, meaning less work for the kidneys.
To feed a couple of hungry hounds, you will need:
250g white fish fillet
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh coriander
125g brown rice
Put the rice on to cook as brown rice takes a good half an hour. Then cover the fish with the milk, bring to the boil and then remove from the heat, allowing the fish to cook in hot milk for about 5 minutes.
Then remove the fish from the milk and crumble it into a dish with the lemon juice and oil. Mix in the cooked and drained rice and finally add the chopped up coriander.
Chicken, Spinach and Sardine Mash
The combination of the easy-to-digest protein from the chicken, with the good quality carbohydrate from the sweet potato, and the vitamins from the spinach make this recipe super healthy – and the sardines add in essential omega-3 oils as well as a bit of extra taste.
250g chicken mince
400g sweet potatoes
250g spinach, shredded
1 tin sardines in oil
½ teaspoon egg shell powder (see recipe 3, Fishy Delight) or 1x1000mg calcium supplement, crushed.
1 teaspoon brewer’s yeast (if available)
Boil the sweet potatoes in their skins until tender (about ten minutes), and then drain and mash them. At the same time, gently fry the chicken mince without adding any fat, until it is cooked through, then add the spinach and cook for a few minutes until reduced down.
Finally, add the sardines, along with all the oil, to the mince and spinach, and mix it all together with the mash in a mixing bowl. Add in the calcium or egg shell, and the brewer’s yeast and form into egg-sized balls.