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  • Writer's pictureMary Puppins

How To Nourish Your Senior Small Breed Dogs: Dietary Tips

Updated: Feb 22

Old small dog in dog bed

Much like us humans,

senior small breed dogs have a tendency to gain weight. Hence, re-evaluating their diet as they mature becomes crucial to uphold a healthy waistline.

As both their appetite and exercise capacity shift, maintaining an appropriate regimen is vital to avert weight gain resulting from reduced physical activity.

Before implementing substantial changes, it's prudent to consult your vet.

Especially if you've observed a diminished appetite or increased water consumption, as these signs might hint at an underlying medical issue.

After receiving your vet's approval, and once any medical concerns are addressed, there are several initial steps you can take to adapt your mature canine's diet.

1. Smaller, frequent portions

for your senior dog.

Begin by serving smaller dog food meals more frequently – shifting from one substantial feed to two or three smaller ones.

2. Softer meal choices

for your senior dog. Transition from hard food to a softer variety, or incorporate warm water to soften their usual fare.

This enhances palatability and facilitates chewing for aging teeth.

3. Incorporate specialised food

for your senior dog. Contemplate introducing a specialised senior feed, fortified with essential nutrients and fewer calories.

Gradually introduce new food to prevent digestive disturbances.

4. Thoughtful treats

for senior dogs. Curbing excessive treats is imperative. This practice not only curtails calorie intake but also ensures their appetite for main meals.

When treats are necessary, opt for healthy options or offer fruit and vegetable slices – surprising as it may be, dogs relish carrots and apples akin to horses.

5. Additional pointers

for senior dogs. The twilight years of your furry family member are an opportune time to introduce supplements.

Some focus on maintaining dental health, skin condition, and coat texture, which tend to deteriorate with age.

Others target relieving stiffness in weary joints – a frequent concern. Many supplements contain glucosamine.

Supervising and adapting your senior dog's diet as they mature is paramount. Flexibility is key, allowing adjustments as needed.


"Senior dogs should be fed complete and balanced nutrition that contains an optimal blend of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to help support their joints and other tissues. Dog foods with long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, specifically EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) from fish oil, help to reduce inflammation such as that caused by obesity." - AKC Canine Health Foundation


What is the best dog food for older dogs?

Dog food that has been mainly developed to fulfil senior dogs' nutritional demands is their finest option.

Look for senior dog food options that contain quality ingredients, are easy to digest, and support joint health, cognitive function, and overall well-being.

What to feed older dogs to gain weight?

To help older dogs gain weight, consider feeding them high-quality, calorie-dense dog food rich in protein and healthy fats.

You can also add extra nutrients and calories to their diet by incorporating supplements such as canned food, cooked meats, or commercial weight-gain formulas recommended by your veterinarian.

Why do older dogs drink more water?

Age-related changes in renal function, hormonal imbalances, underlying medical disorders like diabetes or kidney disease, drug side effects, or increased thirst from dry mouth or hot weather can all cause older dogs to need more water.

Keep an eye on your older dog's water intake and consult a veterinarian if you observe any strange changes or concerns.

What food is best for older dogs?

Dogs that are getting older should eat food specifically designed to fulfil their demands as they age.

Look for senior dog food formulas that contain high-quality ingredients, are easy to digest, and support overall health, including joint function, dental health, and cognitive function.

How to make dog food soft for older dogs?

To make dog food soft for older dogs, add warm water, low-sodium broth, or canned dog food to dry kibble and mix it well until it reaches a smooth, moist consistency.

You can also consider soaking dry food in water or broth for a few minutes before serving to make it easier for older dogs with dental issues or chewing difficulties to eat.

Disclaimer: This article is intended for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for veterinary advice. For specific veterinary dog health advice, contact a veterinary pet healthcare provider.

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Kate Phillips, Chief Editor

BSc (Hons), MSc

Kate is the UK's very own Mary Puppins, a professional Dog Nanny and expert in small breed dogs. With over 30 years' experience and successfully helping high profile celebrity pet parents raise their furry families, Kate shares her top tips with you. Kate guides readers on small breed dogs, dog health, dog training, dog nutrition, dog food, dog walks, dog accessories, dog enrichment, rescue dogs, dog behaviour, dog grooming and the best products for dog mums and dog dads to create the ultimate luxury lifestyle for their small dogs.



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