A New Healthy Weapon Against Arthritis and Pain

Perna canaliculus, the green lipped mussel
New Zealand Green Lipped Mussels

We’ve seen a spate of back injuries lately, and so it’s prompted me to discuss Perna canaliculus once more.  Perna canaliculus, or Perna for short, is the technical name for the New Zealand green lipped mussel. It is a bivalve mollusk, found exclusively in the intertidal zones around all of New Zealand.

Perna has been known for years as a medicinal nutritional supplement that helps alleviate the signs, symptoms, and ongoing progression of arthritis and osteomyelitis. It is effective in minimizing the inflammation associated with arthritis and other inflammatory conditions.

Technically, Perna inhibits 5-lipoxygenase, which is necessary for the formation of some of the inflammatory chemicals found in arthritis. By blocking 5-lipoxygenase the inflammatory response is reduced.

Perna canaliculus was discovered when anecdotal evidence led scientists several decades ago to discover that members of the Maori people who lived along New Zealand’s coast suffered fewer cases of rheumatic disorders than those who lived inland. It was also found that Perna was one of the mainstays of the coastal-dwelling Maoris’ diet.

Besides blocking 5-lipoxygenase, Perna also contains high levels of a unique Omega 3 fatty acid called eicosatetraenoic acid, or ETA. Now, we’ve known for a long time that Omega 3 fatty acids in general are very beneficial in the alleviation of pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. However, the usual sources of Omega 3’s are fish and flaxseed, and they contain primarily EPA and DHA Omega 3’s.  And while EPA and DHA are both good, ETA is a much more potent anti-inflammatory than the commonly found Omega 3’s.

Published reports are consistent in their findings that Perna mussel produces an anti-inflammatory response. A Clemson University study found that Perna was effective in reducing the onset of rheumatoid arthritis as well as reversing it in mice and rats. Out of eighteen test animals with arthritis that were fed Perna mussel, only three developed arthritis compared to 10 out of 15 in the control group. Another study found that the green-lipped mussel was effective in reducing pain, swelling, and stiffness in 60 human patients with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. And importantly, a French study using 53 patients suffering from osteoarthritis in the knee reported that the Perna extract was “well tolerated by the participants with no adverse conditions reported.”

Because of its potent anti-inflammatory effects, we strongly recommend that Perna be included in any joint supplement prescribed to help control the pain and inflammation of arthritis, including back pain and inter-vertebral disc disease. It is rare that routine over-the-counter joint products found at pet stores or health food stores contain Perna as one of their ingredients. Typically, you have to go to a health care provider to get this potent supplement.

EZ Joint ChewsOur EZ Joint Chews that we use routinely for arthritis and back issues not only contain glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate, but they also contain high levels of Perna and other Omega 3 fatty acids. And unlike most over-the-counter products, they are pharmaceutical grade, insuring the highest level of purity and bioavailability. They come as an extremely tasty chewy treat that most dogs love, and remarkably, are no more expensive than most over-the-counter medications found at the big box pet stores. We highly recommend them for any form of joint condition.

Click here to learn more about arthritis and hip dysplasia in dogs.

Ingredients to Avoid In Pet Food

Propylene glycol is an industrial solvent used in acrylics, stains, inks, dyes, cellophane, non-toxic antifreeze, airplane de-icers and brake fluid. Side effects on animals include: irregular heartbeat, underdeveloped growth, brain, liver and kidney failure, lowering blood pressure and even death.

Propylene glycol is a sugar, and pets love the sweet taste and smell. And while it’s not as toxic as its cousin, ethylene glycol, it is nonetheless well worth avoiding in your pet’s food.

Artificial ColoringsPet food ingredients to avoid

  1. Blue dye #s 1 and 2 – Found in pet foods and treats; these have caused brain tumors and should be avoided.
  2. Red dye #3 – Has been linked to thyroid tumors in pets.
  3. Yellow dye #6 – Linked to adrenal gland and kidney tumors. Technically, it is a known carcinogen.

Realistically, there is no reason to have any dyes in your pet’s food at all. They serve no purpose but aesthetics, and can only do harm. For our clients who feed commercial dry dog food we recommend all-natural diets with no colorings, chemicals, or synthetic preservatives.

Additives and Synthetics

BHA and BHT – Many studies have shown that the use of these widely used chemicals causes cancer in laboratory rats.

Propyl galate – Is a preservative used to prevent spoiling but has been linked to cancer.

Ethoxyquin – Is perhaps the most widely used chemical and the most dangerous.  Not only does it cause many forms of cancer, but it has been linked to mutations of genes that suppress cancer.  It has been banned as an “additional” additive in dog foods and treats but it is allowed to be used in preserving ingredients in the supply chain.  Unfortunately, since it’s used in the supply chain it won’t be listed in the ingredients on the bag, so avoiding this carcinogen is more difficult than it might at first seem.

Potassium Bromate – Has been banned throughout the world, except in the United States and Japan. It is used in flours and causes renal cancers as well as some forms of lung cancer.

Acesulfame Potassium or Acesulfame-K – Is a chemical sweetener used in human food and pet foods.  Sweetness attracts all mammals which is why it is tossed into the food.  In controlled studies, this chemical caused cancer! These cancers included lung tumors and breast tumors, various types of leukemia and chronic respiratory disease in the animals.

Partially Hydrogenated Oils – This is a butter replacement in the food industry (and a very unhealthy one for us, as well) but it is very high in trans-fats which promote heart disease and diabetes.

Brown Sugar / Sugar/ Molasses – Some of the effects of sugar in pets are: suppression of the immune system, mineral imbalance, hyperactivity, diabetes, kidney distress, weight gain, allergies, excessive pancreatic activity and liver activity, and an increase in “bad bacteria” in the colon. And… sugar is an important nutrient for cancer cells – they thrive on sugar!

Additional items to be wary of: Corn gluten meal, wheat flour and wheat gluten meal, ground yellow corn, sugar glycerin, anything preserved with BHA, soybean meal, artificial flavors, glyceryl monostearate, and any added colors or dyes as reviewed above.

Corn Gluten Meal in Your Pet’s Food

Corn Gluten MealCorn gluten meal is a by-product of processed corn (corn syrup and sweeteners) and is used by the pet industry as an inexpensive protein source and kibble binder for pet foods.  Despite its name, “corn gluten meal” has no true gluten, but simply corn proteins. The expression “corn gluten” is colloquial jargon that describes corn proteins.  Only wheat, barley, rye and oat contain true gluten.  Yet, because corn gluten meal is considered by many to be similar enough in its protein-boosting capacity to true glutens it is red-flagged as such.

All things considered, the higher the protein content of a dog’s food, the greater its perceived value. However, the amount of protein only tells half the story. It’s a protein’s digestibility and its nutritional value that matter most.

Corn gluten meal is a plant-based protein concentrate acting as a meat substitute that binds the kibble together. Protein can come from just about anywhere, even from non-nutritious sources like leather, hair, feathers, and chicken beaks. Whenever you discover gluten on a dog food ingredients list, you should always question the true meat content of the product.

Due to its high concentration, feeding food with corn gluten meal can cause the animal severe allergies to corn over an extended period of time.

Corn is one of the most common food allergens for dogs and cats. If your pet is allergic to corn, feeding a food with corn gluten meal can cause digestive problems, such as stomach upset, vomiting and/or diarrhea, nutritional deficiencies, weight loss, and even more serious problems like inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Corn allergies can also manifest as skin and coat issues, such as hair loss, severe itching and scratching, scabs and sores, and secondary infections such as staph or yeast pyoderma.

Cats Don’t Digest Corn Very Well

Although cats can eat corn, they get very little nutritional value from it. Even though corn gluten meal does have protein, it’s not the kind of protein that cats can digest very well. Cats have to eat twice as much corn to get the same amount of protein that they would from meat or egg protein.

Even if your cat eats enough corn gluten meal to get the protein she needs, she probably won’t be able to use very much of it. Corn takes several hours to digest, even for people. But cats have a shorter digestive track typical of carnivores, so food has to be broken down quickly before it’s gone. Unfortunately, your feline friend will spend a lot of energy trying to digest the corn before she leaves it for you in the litter box.

Aside from being a poorer-quality protein source, corn gluten meal poses some health risks for your cat. In the wild, a cat’s diet would only be 1 or 2 percent carbohydrates. Dry food containing corn gluten meal ranges from 35 to 50 percent carbohydrates. Since cats can’t really break down carbohydrates or use them for energy the same way people do, excess carbohydrates can lead to obesity and diabetes.

The Most Common Problems with Feeding Corn Gluten Meal

  1. Feeding corn gluten meal can cause your dog or cat to develop severe allergies to corn over an extended amount of time. This can manifest as severe GI and skin problems.
  2. Corn gluten meal is less nutritionally complete than meat-based proteins. It is much lower in some of the ten essential amino acids dogs need to sustain life than is meat or egg-based protein.
  3. Corn gluten meal can raise the protein reported on a food label. So, manufacturers frequently add it to a formula to make a product look better than it really is.

Dog Allergies and Wheat Gluten Meal

Dog allergies and wheat glutenWheat gluten meal is a plant-based protein concentrate found in a wide variety of dog and cat foods. It acts as a meat substitute, binding the kibble together, and artificially increasing the protein content of the food.  Basically, gluten is what’s left over from certain grains such as wheat, barley, rye and other wheat-type cereal grains that had all its starchy carbohydrate washed out of it.  The rubbery protein residue that’s left is the gluten.

Due to its high concentration, feeding food with wheat gluten meal can cause the animal severe allergy or sensitivity to gluten (gluten intolerance) over an extended period.  In most cases, it is just a sensitivity or intolerance (as opposed to a true allergy), due to the bioaccumulation of gluten in the body.  Because dogs and cats are true carnivores, they have trouble digesting and eliminating wheat gluten and other heavy, plant-based proteins. This allows the gluten to accumulate in the body, eventually causing the pet to react in a hypersensitivity reaction.

In order to better understand the development of an intolerance or sensitivity, let’s take an empty glass of water as an example.  Every time you consume gluten add a little bit of water to the glass.  Over time the glass will overflow causing a food intolerance and /or sensitivity due to the bioaccumulation of gluten in the body.

Gluten is one of the most common food allergens in dogs and cats. There are over 250 symptoms of gluten intolerance, including severe itchiness, red skin, infected ears, watery eyes, anal itching, bloating, abdominal discomfort / pain, constipation or diarrhea, and many, many more.

Wheat gluten is normally an inexpensive by-product of human food processing and used primarily as a binder and has little nutritional value.  It is a very common binder used in the vast majority of treats and dry kibbles found in the big box stores.

The Most Common Problems with Feeding Wheat Gluten Meal

  1. Feeding wheat gluten meal can cause your dog or cat to develop severe allergies or sensitivity to gluten over an extended amount of time.
  2. Wheat gluten meal can raise the protein reported on a food label. So, manufacturers frequently add them to a formula to make a product look better than it really is.

Dog Allergies

Keep in mind that when you change your pet’s diet from a cheaper brand that contains wheat or corn gluten to a high-quality, all-natural, grain and gluten-free diet, that it can take up to 6-8 weeks for his body to purge all the garbage – including the accumulated wheat gluten – from his body. So if you start your pet on a high quality diet recommended by us, don’t despair when he isn’t doing better 5 days later. Naturopathic medicine and nutrition is a lifelong endeavor, the benefits accumulate over time. So have patience.

Next week we’ll discuss Corn Gluten Meal, which isn’t even a true gluten at all. Stay tuned.    🙂

Obesity in Cats: Are We To Blame?

Obesity in a catRecent studies of cats in the United States suggest that 30 to 40 per cent of them are overweight or obese. This alarming statistic may be due in part to the significant difference between the diets of even the most healthy domestic cats and those of their feral cousins and wild ancestors.

Many owners, even with the best intentions, may be feeding cats in a way that contributes to weight gain. And the way in which kittens are exposed to different foods may also influence their dietary preferences and eating habits in later life, often in a way that predisposes to obesity.

The majority of cat owners feed either straight dry food, or a combination of both dry and moist food.  A smaller minority use only canned food. There is great variability between one type or brand of dry cat food and another, but it is estimated that a bowl of dry cat food contains 200 or more calories. And unfortunately, cat food bowls are often kept full for ad lib eating throughout the day. (See this for a discussion of free choice feeding.) By contrast, the average mouse or bird in a wild diet contains about 35 calories, and it is estimated that about 8 of these must be eaten daily to stay healthy. That equates to approximately 250 calories per average sized housecat per day.

A full bowl of dry food, replenished two or three times a day, represents a high-calorie high-carbohydrate diet, and although this is a convenient way of feeding for many human owners, it may also be a recipe for feline obesity, particularly in less-active indoor cats who do not burn calories in self-defense and hunting.

Another contributor to cat weight gain is spaying or neutering. Removal of the hormone-producing testicles and ovaries may improve cats’ health in many ways and certainly helps to deal with a potentially exploding animal population, but it reduces your pet’s metabolic rate and allows food to affect weight more directly, as in men and women after andropause and menopause.

It is estimated that food intake should be reduced by 20 to 30 per cent after neutering in order to prevent weight gain. For cats older than 1 year, a heaping bowl of dry food is not a good idea; the amount that you feed your cat should always be measured out and fed twice a day.  Another useful approach is to put the allotment in a plastic food ball, so that the cat expends some calories in getting the food by rolling the ball around to get the food out. This kind of activity may also reduce any tendency to eat out of boredom, especially when the humans are not around.

What cats like to eat is importantly affected by what they are exposed to as kittens. Kittens do not differ much in nutritional requirements from adult cats, and cats are less likely to be picky eaters if they are exposed to different types of food as kittens, although some studies have suggested that the food preferences of kittens are influenced by what their mothers ate when carrying them.

Kittens and cats in general should eat diets that are high in protein, moderate in fat and low in carbohydrate; the main difference between kittens and adult cats is that kittens need more calories per pound, and for that reason do better with kitten foods that are higher in protein and fat. Cats need fatty acids for heart, skin and joint health and to prevent the development of inflammation. Foods that list a high concentration of these are preferable, and fish oils that are high in fatty acids are among the most useful dietary supplements for cats and kittens.

Pet Obesity: How to Make Your Pet Fat

Here at Acupet a good 90% or our clients still feed their pets commercial pet food. While we can make a strong argument that home fixed meals are much better for both dogs and cats, we also understand the reality of life – that most people have neither the time nor the money to feed regular, prepared meals for their pets.

However, people tend to exacerbate the problems they face from using commercially processed foods by then going and feeding their pets incorrectly. The number one thing we see people do wrong when it comes to feeding is to overfeed. And the number one way to overfeed your pet is to free choice feed.

What Is Free Choice Feeding?

Obesity in a pug
Pugs are extremely prone to obesity when fed free choice.

Also known as grazing, free choice feeding is when the pet owner leaves food available in the food bowl 24/7. It gives your dog or cat access to go eat as much as she wants, whenever she wants. Essentially, it’s no different than simply cutting the top off of a bag of food and putting the whole bag on the floor.

And much like grazing, it will make your pet look like a cow. I have no hard numbers to substantiate this, but from casual observation I can guarantee that at least 80% of animals that are free choice fed – and that’s dogs and cats alike – will be significantly overweight by the age of 5. By significantly I mean at least 20%.

So your sweet little Shih Tsu that should weigh 15 pounds and is now 19 pounds? That doesn’t sound like much, but that extra 4 pounds means your pet is 27% overweight.

And the problem doesn’t stop there. Animals that are free choice fed almost always suffer from what I call weight creep. That means that at their annual physical their weight creeps up a little each year. And the number I tend to see is about 5%. So our cute little 19 pound Shih Tzu from above? Next year she’s likely to be 20#. And the next year? 21.5 pounds. And the next year 23#.

And before you know it, you have a 10 year old dog that’s about 70% overweight. And most owners never notice it because the weight comes on insidiously, and not all at once. It’s very hard to notice when you see your pet every day. And then before you know it, you have a 10 year old dog that’s used to eating whatever she wants, whenever she wants, and getting the weight off is a real challenge.

How to Avoid Obesity in Your Pet

If you’re one of the many, many people who still feed their pet dry commercial food, we recommend discrete feedings twice a day. What we mean by discrete is that the food goes down at exactly the same time twice each day, and stays down for a specific length of time.

Our general guidelines for dry food feeding is to give ¼ cup of dry food for every 10 pounds of body weight, twice daily. (So a 10 pound poodle gets ¼ cup twice a day, while a 60 pound golden retriever gets 1.5 cups twice a day. This is a VERY rough guide, and you should adjust it up or down based on your pet and the food you feed. Your vet can help you with this. But feeding discretely and measuring the food is the first step to accomplishing calorie control.) Put the food down at the scheduled time and then just walk away. Don’t watch your dog or cat eat, and definitely do NOT try to coax her if she won’t eat. Just feed and walk away. Then come back 30 minutes later and take the food up.

If your pet doesn’t eat her food in the morning, she gets exactly the same amount in the evening at the given time, and for exactly 30 minutes. No more. If your pet is used to grazing it may take her a few days to register the signal that “I’d better eat when the food’s down or I’m not going to get to eat.” But trust us, they always get the signal. And once they do you’ll be well on your way to controlling your pet and her eating habits instead of allowing her to control you. And her health will improve dramatically as you’ll finally be able to start controlling her weight.

How Treats, Scraps and Snacks Make Our Pets Fat

An obese labrador dogIt took me 25 years, but I’ve finally cracked the code as to why our pets are so fat: it’s all us guys’ fault. Really, I’m not joking. Time and again I encounter overweight dogs and when I inquire as to the feeding habits it turns out that it’s the husband in the household (by their own admission) who sneaks all the treats and table scraps to the pet.

Due to it’s convenience and affordability, the vast majority of dogs in our practice still eat dry kibble. We’re okay with that as long as:
1.) It’s a relatively high caliber dry food that is all natural and – preferably – grain free; and
2.) The pet seems to be tolerating it well, with no vomiting or diarrhea, and with a healthy skin and coat, and no excessive scratching.

How Much Should Your Pet Eat a Day?

As an EXTREMELY crude starting feeding point, we usually recommend feeding about ¼ cup of dry food for every 10 pounds body weight, twice a day. E.g. a 20 pound dog would start with about ½ cup of dry food twice daily. With that as a starting point we can then adjust the feeding up or down based on the diet being fed and the dog’s biology.

When we see overweight dogs (over 50% of the pets we see are overweight) and query the owners, often we discover that they are either 1.) feeding well more than the volume outlined above, and/or 2.) giving significant quantities of scraps and treats.

And when we then dig deeper to find out how many treats and scraps the dog receives each day, it invariably turns out that it’s the man in the house who is the culprit. And I mean at least 90% of the time. It ALWAYS seems to be the man who gives way too many treats or snacks. (I won’t get into the psychology of why this is, but it’s definitely much more than mere coincidence.)

Recently we ran across the chart below. It neatly puts into context how much damage we’re doing to our pets (especially the smaller ones) when we continually slip them the occasional potato chip or piece of hot dog.

Dog treat translatorAnd once again, it seems to be overwhelmingly the guys who are the culprits. So all you well-meaning men out there who think you’re doing your dog a favor when you give him the same snacks you’re eating: STOP IT! And help your pet live longer and healthier.

Pedigree Pet Food Recall

Recall Notice, Aug. 26th, 2014

Pedigree Pet Food has recently come out with this voluntary recall notice:

“At PEDIGREE®, we care about all dogs and their safety and well-being is extremely important to us, and to our mission – to make a Better World for Pets. For that reason, we have initiated a voluntary recall of 22 bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food due to the possible presence of a foreign material. The affected bags were sold in Dollar General stores in four states and, while the small metal fragments are not embedded in the food itself, it may present a risk of injury if consumed. We are working with Dollar General to ensure that the recalled product is no longer sold and is removed from inventory.

“At Mars Petcare, we take our responsibility to pets and their owners seriously. We sincerely apologize for this situation and encourage you to reach out to us at 1-800-305-5206 from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. CST if you have questions.

“Only 15 pound bags of PEDIGREE® Adult Complete Nutrition dry dog food sold at 12 Dollar General stores in Mississippi, Arkansas, Tennessee and Louisiana with the production code shown below are included in this voluntary recall.

“Each product will have the lot code 432C1KKM03 printed on the back of the bag near the UPC and a Best Before date of 8/5/15. No other PEDIGREE® products are affected, including any other variety of dry dog food, wet dog food or dog treats.”

chart

product

Feeding Your Puppy

A puppy eating The most important thing about feeding puppies is that during this time of physical development the body’s foundations are built for life – the formation and growth of muscles and skeleton, teeth, internal organs, immune system and the brain, along with cognitive and nerve function, all happen in a relatively short time. Nutritional mistakes made now may not always be fully reversed later on.

On the other hand, there is much we can do to strengthen and positively influence the building of this foundation during puppyhood by making the right choices.

Most importantly, steer clear of poor quality foods and harmful ingredients. Recognize that we veterinarians may not be the best source of information on this topic. With all due respect to my colleagues in the veterinary field – when it comes to nutrition, only very few of us are actually capable of doing anything but recommending highly advertised products made by certain well known national pet food companies. You truly need to dig deeper into ingredients to see what you’re really feeding your pet. (For more information on ingredients to avoid, click here. Or just continue to follow our blog for the latest and greatest health and nutrition advice available.   🙂  )

Another important aspect is the puppy’s body size and expected adult weight. The smaller the dog, the more energy and nutrients are required per pound of body weight to keep the dog healthy. Nutrient and energy requirements do not increase in a linear fashion, meaning that a 20 lb dog does not need double the amount of food of a 10 lb dog, and neither will one-fifth of the amount necessary to feed a 100 lb dog provide sufficient nutrients.

Large Breeds are a Unique Nutritional Challenge

Due to their initially rapid growth but the long time it takes them to fully mature, large breed puppies have vastly different nutritional needs from smaller breeds. Feeding them a food too high in calcium and phosphorus, as well as overfeeding in general, can lead to serious orthopedic problems.

The stomachs and digestive tracts of small breed puppies are tiny and do not have the capacity to utilize large amounts of food. Feeding smaller meals more frequently will have better results than giving fewer, larger meals. Hypoglycemia may be an issue in especially tiny puppies.

Free-Choice Feeding is Definitely a No-No

Regardless of breed and size, do not free feed or let your puppy eat as much as it wants – no matter how often this old, outdated method is still recommended. The more calories the diet provides, the faster your puppy will grow, and growth rates near or at the maximum potential are unhealthy, especially in large breed puppies. Slow, even growth without any “spurts” is much more beneficial. Contrary to all the old wives tales circulating on the internet and in email, excessive feeding of your large breed puppy while it is still growing will not result in a larger, stronger animal. No dog will grow larger than its predetermined genetic potential allows, regardless of how much you feed.

Do not let your puppy become overweight either. A “roly poly” little doggie may look cute, but all that extra weight isn’t healthy at all. Cornell University’s December 2002 issue of the “Cornell Chronicle” mentions the results of a 14-year study, which found that eating less results in healthier, longer lives and that dogs forced to eat 25 percent less of the same balanced diet than their littermates lived significantly longer and suffered fewer canine diseases.

Feeding Your Senior Pet

An old man and a dog on a benchOlder dogs have nutritional needs that differ from those of younger ones, but then just when is a senior a senior? Many dog food companies and veterinarians will tell you that a dog is a senior once he or she turns seven years old, but it’s not that simple.

First of all, dogs of different breeds and sizes have different life expectancies. A small or medium sized dog may well live 15 years or longer and will not show any signs of aging at just seven years old, where giant breed dogs – for example Great Danes – at that age are well into the last third of their life span.

But even dogs of the same (or similar) breeds and sizes will age at different rates, depending on how soon and how fast the body’s systems slow down and deteriorate. Annual wellness exams, preferably including blood work, will help you to determine when your dog might benefit from changes to the diet and extra nutritional support. And since blood work done at any point in a dog’s life is just a “snapshot” of the current condition he is in, it would be smart to start including them now rather than a few years down the road, if you truly want to benefit from the information they offer.

Some of the special dietary needs of older dogs originate from:

  • Decreased activity levels
  • Mobility and joint issues
  • Decreased digestive and metabolic efficiency
  • Decreased immune and organ function
  • Increased occurrence of intestinal problems
  • Declining dental health

I often see other veterinarians and food companies still promote feeding seniors foods drastically decreased in protein and fat, even though this is generally not indicated. And research has shown that especially senior dogs, as long as no other health issues require the reduction of protein for specific reasons, actually remain healthier with a higher protein level in their diet than on low-protein “Senior”, “Less Active” or “Weight Management” foods.

Senior Pets Often Need MORE Protein, Not Less!

Many senior dogs have a higher protein requirement because they can simply not digest and metabolize their food as efficiently as younger dogs anymore and need to make up for that by increased intake. AND…  several studies have also found a higher mortality rate after three years in senior dogs fed a diet lower in protein than the average adult food compared to those fed a diet higher in protein!

Just like choosing the right food for your puppy or adult dog, it is important to take the individual dog’s needs into consideration when feeding a senior. If your dog has reached his “golden years” and shows some signs of slowing down, but does not present with any special needs, there is no reason to switch from a high quality adult food to a senior food just yet, and unwanted weight gain can be addressed simply by decreasing the daily intake of calories as necessary.