Can Food Teach Old Dogs New Tricks?

More than 6 in 10 dog owners are unaware of the link between dog behaviour and diet according to a new survey from the publisher of K9 Magazine.

The study, which polled more than 1,000 owners, revealed more than half of all dog owners tended to keep their dog on the same diet, both in terms of volume, calories and nutritional qualities, regardless of their lifestage – with the exception of puppies.

It's now a well established fact that diet has a direct correlation on behaviour and, as dogs age, their nutritional requirements differ.

In a recent article on feeding older dogs on the website, it was explained:

"Feeding older dogs doesn’t have to mean drastic changes. Obesity is possibly the most common health related problem to affect dogs as they get older. An overweight dog is an unhappy dog and subsequent health problems can drastically reduce a dog’s life and render his later years void of any real quality. The key is to be aware of nutritional requirement changes when feeding older dogs, adjust slowly and gradually and keep on top of your older dog’s specific feeding requirements on a regular basis."

Ryan O'Meara, K9 Magazine editor and a former dog trainer, added:

"I speak with personal experience on this, matching a dog's diet to their age, breed and lifestyle is so incredibly important. I have seen in the case of one of my own dogs the difference it can make. Feeding too much or not enough of certain nutritional elements can have a hugely significant impact on the way the dog behaves and their general all round health."

Fats are very beneficial, but it can become a concern when the dog eats too much of it. Too much fuel in the dog’s body, regardless of where it came from, is converted into body fat, which is then stored in the body. Too much fat in the body results in obesity and other conditions that are related to obesity such as diabetes, canine osteoarthritis, and heart disease.

For older dogs this is particularly true.

As dogs age their vital organs work differently. Too much protein can cause a strain on the kidneys and other functions. Too many calories can lead to weight gain and too much fat can also lead to a previously healthy dog becoming obese.

As dogs get older their joints require more care and their activities levels tend to decline.

K9 Magazine advises dog owners to seek a consultation with their vet to discuss the appropriate nutritional plans for their dogs as they get older.

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