Diet plays an extremely crucial role in the life of your senior Golden Retriever. Besides satisfying his appetite and tastes, your aging dog's food intake can also have a significant effect on his overall health and wellness.
But the thing is a lot of people mistakenly think that giving senior dogs—like your aging Golden Retriever—the right diet is all about grabbing the best commercial dog food they can find. The whole thing actually involves a lot more and we're going to get you in on what these are as we go along.
Make sure you read on to find out how to give senior Golden Retrievers a well-balanced diet to stay healthy and happy. How about we start things off by having a quick rundown of the changes that are taking place in the body of your beyond adult dog?
How the Diet of Your Older Golden Retriever is Changing
One of the things that many dog owners seem to overlook is that the bodies of much older Golden Retrievers are going through remarkable changes. These changes include your aging dog's metabolism rate or his ability to break down food and absorb all the nutrition that it contains.
Compared to Golden Retriever puppies, juveniles and young adults of the breed, senior Goldies require a more diverse diet that maximizes high-quality protein as well as the right amount of vitamins and minerals.
This is to make up for the changes in metabolism that they are going through.
If these additional dietary requirements are not met, it's highly likely that your senior Golden Retriever will be prone to health concerns sooner or later. Apart from problems with joint health and digestion, his overall immune system wellness can also be affected.
We'll get to these in the next part of our discussion.
The Dangers of Not Giving Senior Golden Retrievers the Right Diet
Beyond adult Golden Retrievers need to have their specific dietary requirements satisfied or else they won't have a healthy life. And they don't just need any large breed dog food or whatever similar offering from pet food companies. It has to be formulated to cater to their special needs.
The following are the possible dangers that your senior Golden Retriever could be exposed to if he's not getting the proper nutrition he deserves. You're sure to be more careful with what you feed your Golden Retriever once you check these out:
Excessive weight gain or weight loss
Your senior Golden Retriever gets pretty much all of his nutrition from whatever dog food you are providing him with. Whether you're serving your pooch commercial pet foods or a raw food diet, an almost immediate effect you can observe is a change in weight.
Although unexpected weight loss is already a cause for worry, excessive weight gain is also something that you should keep an eye on. Like all dogs, large breed dogs like Goldies need a high-quality diet to stay ideally nourished and maintain a healthy weight.
Not giving your beyond adult Golden Retriever the proper portions and nutritional value can lead to weight issues. This may even put your pet at risk of obesity, which can eventually set off a number of health concerns.
Always remember that a senior dog's weight is a critical gauge of his overall wellness.
Decline in cognitive function
While we're on the subject of dog food and its effects on the health and wellness of beyond adult Golden Retrievers, your senior dog can be exposed to cognitive decline if he's not getting the right nutrients that promote healthy brain function.
To maintain ideal brain health, the senior dog foods that you should serve must contain B vitamins, arginine, Omega-3 fatty acids as well as antioxidants. This also applies to dog treats and snacks as well as homemade diets.
It is crucial to take note that the most common indicators that senior dogs of the Labrador Retriever breed are experiencing cognitive decline include sudden bouts of anxiety and confusion, forgetting house rules and routines, and sudden non-responsiveness to their name.
Failing to nip this problem in the bud can lead to cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS), which is considered the canine version of Alzheimer's Disease. This is the reason why getting your hands on high-quality treats is a must.
Gastrointestinal health issues
Regardless of the type of dog foods that you give beyond adult dogs—particularly aging Golden Retrievers—it's not uncommon that their gastrointestinal system will be one of the first to be affected if the same is not adequate for their bodies' needs.
Whether you're serving dry dog food or semi-moist dog foods, not to mention grain-free dog foods or a customized homemade diet for much older Golden Retrievers, their digestive system will have problems if they're not getting the right amounts or if the nutritional value is way below what's appropriate.
Just a quick reminder, though. Some pet owners also seem to overlook the fact that the food of a Golden Retriever puppy is entirely different from his senior counterpart. If a much older dog eats something that's not suitable for his body like puppy food, he may be prone to anything from a tummy ache to bouts of vomiting and diarrhea.
High levels of stress and anxiety
Beyond adults dogs are extremely prone to stress and anxiety. The higher a Golden Retriever's age is, the more prevalent this vulnerability will be. A very big factor that can have an influence with regard to the onset of these issues is the diet of your senior dog.
One way that dog food can set off anxiety and stress in a much older Golden Retriever is when his feeding time is inconsistent. It's not uncommon that aging dogs will persistently become worrisome if they are left hungry for too long.
Overfeeding can also take place if you give your pet food without a set schedule.
On the other hand, your senior dog will also be lacking in essential vitamins and minerals that help keep stress and anxiety at bay if he's not given the proper amount of food. We're going to dedicate a separate section for this subject so you can really determine how much food you should serve your beyond adult dog.
Oral health problems
We'd just like to stress the fact that the best dog food for one senior Golden Retriever may not be identical for another dog belonging to the same breed. The large breed dog food that your dog enjoys eating and gives him the nutrients he needs may not be the complete diet for his canine next of kin.
Although this may sound surprising, what you feed your Golden Retriever can possibly make him prone to oral health issues. In fact, a dog's body may display this incompatibility through the appearance of a dry mouth, tooth decay, and gum disease, among others. A decline in his immune system can also be expected if this is not corrected as early as possible.
Keep in mind that feeding dogs that are in their senior years is not just about going for the "best dog food," whether it's dry dog food or grain-free dog food when you visit your local pet shop. Consulting a pet homeopathy specialist or vet can help you come up with the ideal senior Golden Retriever feeding chart to curb these oral health issues.
Additionally, you can also check out the guidelines provided by the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) for this one to really put together a suitable diet plan for your senior Golden Retriever.
Loss of lean muscle mass
One of the most important benefits of giving beyond adult Golden Retrievers the right dog food is retaining lean muscle mass. The lack of nutrients supporting lean muscle can progress into atrophy, which is characterized by the progressive "thinning" of muscles, particularly in and around the limbs.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), besides restricting your pet's overall mobility, loss of lean muscle mass also tightens the areas between the joints, resulting in chronic pain and discomfort.
This effect may also make it difficult for synovial fluid (or the natural lubricant that keeps joints functioning properly) to flow. Research shows that as much as 20% of a senior Golden Retriever's muscle mass may disappear sooner or later if he's not regularly taking in the best dog food for his body.
Bone and joint health concerns
Your beyond adult dog is going to be at risk of developing issues concerning his bones and joints if he's not getting the right dog food. His body needs a sufficient amount of vitamin B and calcium to keep bone and joint health up to par.
Aging Golden Retrievers can be prone to arthritis and joint degeneration if the nutritional value of the chow he's given on a regular basis falls short of what his body really needs. Moreover, a lot of dog parents are resorting to raw foods instead of commercial varieties (like dry dog food) for their abundance of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium and vitamin B.
Increased susceptibility to disease and illness
Saying that your pet's immune system will be affected if you're not giving him the best dog food for his age is an understatement. His vulnerability to disease and illnesses will significantly increase. Apart from common health issues like vomiting and diarrhea, his risk of developing canine tumors and cancer will also rise.
Once your aging dog's immune system is compromised, his quality of life will not only decrease but his lifespan will also be dramatically affected. And while we may have repeated this over and over already, your choice of dog food is not something that should be left up to chance.
How Much Dog Food Should You Give Your Older Golden Retriever?
If we're being honest, there is no universal rule when it comes to the amount of dog food to give your senior Golden Retriever. Each aging dog is unique and will have different intake requirements compared to their counterparts.
However, there are some key factors that you should take note of as regards the portions you should give your pet. Below are the guidelines to remember when figuring out how much food should your Golden Retriever eat:
Size and weight: This is the first thing to consider when determining the amount of food to give your aging pooch. The general rule is the bigger your Goldie is, the more chow he's going to need. However, there are also smaller dogs of the breed that have really hearty appetites, so take this in consideration as well.
Activity level and metabolism: If your senior Golden Retriever is still very active, then it's smart to keep his dog food portions big, but not too much. Goldies that work out regularly tend to have faster metabolic rates. Besides helping your pet maintain his energy level, the nutrients he gets from his food will also play a role in the repair and rejuvenation of his body.
Underlying health conditions: There will be changes in your pet's food intake if he is suffering from health concerns like diabetes, hypertension, digestive upsets and eye problems. As we've stressed earlier, it is highly recommended to consult a vet or pet wellness expert to give your senior Golden Retriever the diet regimen he really needs.
Signs That Your Aging Golden Retriever Has an Improper Diet
There will be key indicators that your senior Golden Retriever is not getting the most out of his diet regimen. For this part of our discussion, we will go over the signs that you should take your pet's diet up a notch to keep him as healthy and happy as possible:
Frequent bouts of lethargy
If your aging dog is anything like most Golden Retrievers, chances are he will still display a lot of energy and enthusiasm during his senior years. While he's not going to be as spry compared to a Golden Retriever puppy, your dog will still exhibit a fair amount of friskiness.
One sign that you should improve your pet's diet is when he becomes constantly lethargic, which is definitely not an attribute of a Goldie. It is also important to remember that frequent lethargy may already be a sign of a health problem.
Erratic bowel movement and urination
Issues with bowel movement usually take place when your senior Golden Retriever either consumes the wrong type of chow (like puppy food or those formulated for juveniles) or when the portions are not enough for his needs.
On the other hand, problems with urination will arise when your dog is not getting as much water as he should. We'd just like to emphasize that hydration is a key part of a senior Golden Retriever's healthy diet and should not be overlooked.
Chronic bad breath
Chronic bad breath in senior Golden Retrievers is usually set off when your aging pooch is not producing a sufficient amount of saliva. It can also take place when your pet has oral health issues like tooth decay and gum disease.
Additionally, serving your much older dog with the wrong chow can also lead to stinky breath, such as in the case of giving him puppy food or when he isn't that agreeable with grain-free food. We know we've reiterated this lots of times already, but the food a Golden Retriever puppy needs is much different than what a senior one requires.
Drastic changes in food or water intake
While adult Golden Retrievers are still going to be hearty eaters, sudden changes in food or water intake can mean that they're already having problems with their diet. If your pet unexpectedly eats or drinks a lot more—or perhaps a lot less—than he normally does, it's your cue to improve his overall diet regimen.
A quick reminder, though. Your dog could be suffering from diabetes if his water intake suddenly goes beyond what he normally drinks, save for when the weather's really hot or if he's just been engaged in vigorous exercise.
Coat dullness and hair loss
A much older Golden Retriever needs to have certain nutrients in his diet to have and maintain healthy skin. The same goes for a healthy coat, too. It's not uncommon for aging Goldies to have dull coats and bald patches if they're not getting the right stuff in their food.
Vitamins A and E, as well as manganese, iodine, copper, selenium, and zinc, are needed to maintain ideal skin health. With respect to coating wellness, the consumption of Omega-3 fatty acids will help your beyond adult Golden Retriever get the job done.
Having a proper diet in senior Golden Retrievers means that their bodies will be rejuvenated in a timely manner. Damaged cells and tissues will be suitably repaired and bones and joints will stay strong and sturdy.
This is why aging Goldies with bad diets tend to move stiffly and are highly prone to cramps, dislocations, sprains and even fractures in some cases. Sure your pet won't be expected to move like Golden retriever puppies do, but he won't be in for mobility problems and similar issues before you know it.
Sudden change in behavior and mood
Golden Retrievers are considered one of the most affectionate and friendliest dog breeds in the world. And if your pooch suddenly becomes moody, grumpy, or impatient, it's highly likely that his diet plays a big part in this behavioral change.
As we've highlighted earlier, having a set schedule for meal times—with the right amounts of dog food while at it—helps curb the possibility that senior Golden Retrievers will go through lots of stress and anxiety.
Senior Golden Retriever Diet Tips You Should Include in Your Pet Care Checklist
Now that we've covered everything you need to know about how proper diet is essential for your senior Golden Retriever, let's take a look at the tips you should remember when it comes to pulling the whole thing off.
Giving your much older Golden Retriever an ideal diet is more than just determining the "best dog food" for him. The following very important things should also be included in your home pet care checklist:
#1. Have a regular feeding schedule.
Sure this may sound really straightforward, but a lot of dog parents seem to overlook that a regular feeding schedule for their aging Golden Retrievers must be set each day. A good rule of thumb to remember is that your senior pooch should have at least two (2) meals daily, at a 12-hour interval.
When you've figured out your very own feeding schedule, it's crucial that you stick to it every day. A beyond adult Golden Retriever is a creature of habit and failing to follow this schedule can make him feel neglected (or even make him prone to anxiety) if his meals are constantly late.
#2. Always go for dog foods that provide the most amount of nutritional value.
An aging Golden Retriever needs all the nutrition that he can get. Besides providing ideal nourishment for your pet's body, helping him take in vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients on a regular basis also helps his system heal and rejuvenate with respect to damaged cells and tissues.
This is the reason why it pays to be very meticulous with what you're feeding your pooch. Whether you're going for grain-free food or a raw diet, it is really important to get your hands on an option that gives your Golden Retriever the best nutritional value during his senior years.
#3. A balanced diet is a must for a senior dog's diet.
Unlike what a lot of people mistakenly think, being thorough with a Golden Retriever's diet does not end when their pet becomes a canine senior citizen. You should still be as meticulous with what you're feeding your pooch when he was still a Golden Retriever puppy.
A key factor to remember is that your dog should have a regular and appropriate intake of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, unsaturated fats, and proteins each day. Many dog parents worldwide are getting in on the raw diet since you can specifically control the things your pet consumes.
#4. Hydration is essential.
One crucial thing many pet owners seem to forget is that diet is not just about the food that your elderly Golden Retriever eats. It also includes his water intake. Hydration plays a key factor in keeping his gastrointestinal system functioning properly to maintain healthy skin.
While there is no set rule when it comes to how much water your dog should drink, it's crucial that you always have fresh water available for him throughout the day and night. And don't just top up his water bowl for this application, too! It's important to freshly refill it as often as you can.
#5. Consult with your vet or pet health expert.
One sure way to maximize your senior dog's dietary benefits is by getting in touch with a pet wellness expert or a vet. This should not be overlooked, particularly when you're looking to shift to a new diet (like raw feeding) or integrating new things in your aging pet's meal plans (like raw eggs).
Apart from preventing the onset of allergies and similar health concerns, consulting an expert can also provide you with a lot of helpful insights along the way. This tip is not just for much older Goldies but is also applicable to younger dogs like a Golden Retriever puppy or a juvenile.
#6. Supplement with essential vitamins and minerals.
Getting your hands on supplements is a convenient way to really ensure that you're giving your senior pooch the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients he needs to stay healthy and happy. As we've emphasized earlier, your pet needs all the nutrition that he can get during this time of his life.
But the thing is with all the supplements available these days, choosing the right one for your dog can be rather tricky. This is the biggest reason why only going for premium quality products is the way to go to.
A Premium Natural Product for Senior Golden Retrievers You Should Check Out
Zumalka's PET MULTI is designed to support internal functions and promote better health and energy. The vitamins and minerals in this premium product have antioxidant properties and work to replenish the nutrients needed to regenerate cells.
PET MULTI is also formulated to promote the ideal Krebs Cycle, which is how cells provide energy for every bodily function. Disorders of this process can lead to metabolic disturbances and chronic issues.
HOMEOPATH & CO-FOUNDER OF ZUMALKA
Suzie Cyrenne has dedicated more than 20 years of her life in making and improving natural animal health solutions in the global setting.
Being the co-founder of Zumalka, Suzie is a forerunner in enhancing the lives of pets through natural and homeopathic options using the knowledge she has gained from the Classical Homeopathy School in Quebec.
Besides immersing herself in books, personal development and visiting new places, Suzie also enjoys keeping herself in tiptop shape by snowboarding and taking daily hikes with her husband and Zumalka co-founder, Matt Lessard, and their Golden-Doodle, Westin.