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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 33258
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience.
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what type of wet food,dry food should i be feeding a 9yr old

Customer Question

what type of wet food,dry food should i be feeding a 9yr old westie.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
The goals of nutrition in the senior pet such as your Westie are to minimize the signs of aging, slow metabolic processes associated with aging, enhance the quality of life, and increase life span, if possible. Older pets can have a large variation in health status, so it's importnat to evaluate each pet on an individual basis. If your Westie hasn't had a thorough physical exam and diagnostic testing in the form of a senior/geriatric panel of blood and urine tests, it's best to have that performed before choosing a specific food. We can tailor diets to a particular health problem we might discover at his age.

Because of the incidence of decreased kidney function at his age, a fresh, clean source of water should be available at all times. Water intake should be monitored to identify increases in intake which could be an early indication of changes in renal function or the presence of other disorders.

The resting metabolic rate gradually slows with age. This decrease is due to a loss of lean body tissue and an increase in body fat. By the age of 7 years, there is an approximate 13% decrease in the daily energy requirement in most dogs. This decrease can lead to weight gain in the senior pet. As dogs get very old, however, they may become under weight due to decreasing food intake. The very old dog may benefit from being fed a highly digestible, energy-dense diet.

Senior dogs have a tendency to become overweight so the fat content of the diet should be adequate but not excessive. For the very old dogs that lose weight due to decreased food intake, increasing the fat content in the diet helps improve palatability which helps increase intake. Increased fat content also increases the energy density of the diet so less needs to be consumed to meet energy needs. Fat contents in diets for senior dogs will vary from 7-15%, depending on body condition.

The protein requirement for older dogs is debated. Due to the decrease in lean body mass and decrease in protein synthesis, the recommended level of protein in the diet may be higher than that for the younger dog. Diets providing 15-23% dry matter (DM) high-quality protein are adequate for most senior dogs to prevent the occurrence of kidney disease. However, it's been shown that a higher protein intake doesn't contribute to the occurrence of kidney disease in healthy dogs. Once kidney disease is present, however, it then may be beneficial to decrease dietary protein.

Excessive phosphorus in diets should be avoided because of the increased incidence of renal disease. The calcium-to-phosphorus ratio should be maintained. Osteoporosis isn't a problem in older dogs as it is in people. Sodium and chloride don't necessarily need to be restricted but there's no need to provide excessive levels either.

Here are the dietary recommedations for senior dogs...

Protein 15-23% DM
Fat 7-15% DM
Fiber >2% DM
Calcium 0.5-1% DM
Phosphorus 0.25-0.75% DM

You should be able to find the amounts of these nutrients (in DM) on the label of the food you're considering. If he has particular dietary needs due to a medical condition, please let me know. If you're interesting in cooking for him, I can provide you with home-cooked recipes. Please let me know.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thankyou that was very hepful.


Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 3 years ago.
You're quite welcome. Please continue our conversation if you wish.