Top Nutritional Advice for Enhancing the Health of Aging Labradors

Suzie Cyrenne
Authored by Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie is a Certified Homeopath and Co-Founder of Zumalka
, specializing in natural and holistic remedies for pets.


One of the most crucial things to remember when you have a much older Lab is that his body needs all the nutrients that he can get. And this can only be achieved by having a complete and balanced diet. Senior dogs typically go through age-related wellness concerns like losing lean body mass and having trouble with their joint health, just to name a few.

Besides helping maintain a healthy immune system, closely monitoring your pet's senior food also has a lot of other benefits. It may even contribute to extending your dog's life! This is the biggest reason why having a healthy diet regimen is very important in aging dogs.

In this blog post, we will walk you through everything you need to know about how to provide very old dogs with the nutritional requirements their bodies need. We'll also touch on top nutrition tips that your much older Labrador will appreciate as we go along. So how about we start things off right now?



Why Proper Nutrition Matters To Your Senior Dog

senior Labrador playing outside

A senior dog's diet is crucial since it has a significant effect on how his body works. This doesn't just involve physiological functions like blood circulation, oxygen intake and nutrient absorption during the digestive process. It also covers the repair of damaged tissues and cells as well as keeping health problems at bay.

As reported by the National Research Council (NRC), golden-aged dogs fed either poorly or excessively are quite prone to issues that were not that prevalent when they were still younger dogs. What's really alarming is that these can also have fatal consequences if not immediately taken care of the right way.

And given the fact that much older dogs go through a lot of age-related changes almost without warning like sudden joint pain and stiffness—not to mention susceptibility to diabetes, heart issues and kidney disease—being more mindful of the diet of your senior dogs starts now.


Top Nutrition Is Not Just About Choosing High-Quality Dog Food

senior Lab resting after a walk

A lot of dog parents mistakenly think that keeping their senior dogs in tip-top shape is simply about getting their hands on the "best dog food." While we'd like to emphasize that the quality of your dog's food has a very big impact on his health, just shopping for top-shelf canned food, wet food or perhaps dry dog food isn't going to cut it.

See, there are a lot of factors to consider when it comes to senior foods and their effect on your dog's health. As dogs age, their nutritional needs become more specific to maintain muscle mass and healthy skin, among other key benefits. Senior dogs commonly have to be fed low calorie foods while keeping nutrient intake as high as possible.

It is even recommended to "enhance" the diet of much older dogs with nutrients like essential fatty acids (like those found in fish oil), Vitamin E, as well as glucosamine and chondroitin, which help eliminate free radical particles, just to name a few.

Even the most expensive dog food varieties can miss one or two of these nutrients, which can result in an inactive, overweight dog that is highly vulnerable to illness. A quick heads up, though. Simply increasing the calorie intake of your more-than-adult dog won't be enough. This is why the regular diet of a senior dog should be properly planned and not made up on the fly.


Signs of Improper Nutrition in Senior Dogs

As we've highlighted earlier, shopping for popular and pricey senior dog foods isn't enough to ensure that your much older canine companion is getting the right nutrition he needs. It really doesn't matter whether you're feeding dry food, the canned variety, or wet food. Your pet's health is going to be compromised if your dog's diet isn't balanced and complete like it's supposed to.

It is important to keep in mind that improper nutrition can potentially lead to fatal consequences in much older dogs if not immediately corrected. Below are the common indicators that your senior dog is not getting the ideal amount of his daily nutritional requirements:


Susceptibility to dehydration and fatigue

Regardless of the food you are serving or the diet regimen of your senior dog (raw diets, for example), the most widespread effect of improper nutrition is very low energy levels. While a much older dog is not expected to be as active and playful compared to his younger counterparts, he shouldn't automatically become idle and disinterested in normal activities.


Oral and dental problems

Besides providing senior dogs with the nutrients they need to stay happy and healthy, the right dog food choices also help with the ideal production of saliva. Although this may sound surprising, saliva doesn't just provide lubrication when chewing and swallowing.

It also helps flush out bad bacteria inside the mouth, particularly those lurking in between the teeth and on the underside of the tongue. Older dogs tend to be more vulnerable to tooth fractures and periodontal disease when these unwanted visitors are allowed to accumulate.


Drastic weight gain or weight loss

Contrary to popular opinion, several years of age do not immediately result in overweight dogs. And getting your hands on supposedly the best wet or dry dog food also doesn't ensure that he won't be subjected to sudden weight loss, too. If your senior dog's weight is either ballooning or plunging without warning, chances are his regular diet needs to be improved in the soonest time.


Problems in maintaining ideal muscle mass

Indoor senior lab

Old age is often linked with the loss of muscle mass in dogs. It is also associated with deteriorating joint health. A poor senior dog diet—not to mention choosing the wrong dog food choices—can have serious effects on your pet's health and wellness.

Moreover, we'd just like to stress that canine companions having lots of years under their belts should not be immediately deemed inactive dogs. Having this mindset can lead to consequential muscle and joint concerns before you know it.


Trouble passing stools and similar gastrointestinal issues

It's not uncommon for years of age to have an effect on the digestive function of senior dogs. These issues could manifest in the form of chronic abdominal pain, indigestion, acid reflux, bloating, nausea, and regurgitation.

Additionally, it is also possible that your much older pet can go through bouts of constipation, diarrhea, and even hemorrhagic gastroenteritis and pancreatitis in severe cases. While the exact cause of pancreatitis is still unknown, researchers report that senior foods containing high amounts of saturated fat may be triggers for this condition.


Sudden decline in cognitive health

The right diet for senior dogs plays a key role in maintaining proper nourishment for the brain. As a dog ages, his body may not be able to absorb the ideal amounts of Vitamin E and Vitamin C that protect the brain from free radical particles. Sudden disorientation and confusion are usually the first signs that a dog is going through a cognitive health decline.


Skin and coat health problems

Not giving your much older pooch the right diet, such as choosing the appropriate senior dog food, can eventually result in skin and coat issues. These often start with a bit of itching here and there, then progress to a coat that is duller than usual. If the problem with your pet's senior food is not corrected as soon as possible, more significant adverse effects like hair loss and bald patches will pop up.


Can Improper Nutrition Have Fatal Consequences to Senior Dogs?

senior Labrador looking sad

If we're being honest, improper nutrition won't just result in negative effects like illness and other problems to senior dog health. They can also lead to deadly consequences if not corrected as soon as possible. This is the biggest reason why senior dog food should NOT be taken lightly.

While this fatal outcome isn't instantaneous, your senior dog will be subjected to a lot of wellness-related hardships along the way. Besides weakening your golden-aged pet's overall immune system health, his risk of developing kidney disease, heart problems, diabetes and similar health issues (like sudden drawbacks with your older dog's joints) will also get higher.


Can You Still Provide A Much Older Dog With a Complete and Balanced Nutrition?

preparing a bowl of dog food

Yes, of course! Giving senior dogs the balanced and complete nutrition they need is not as complicated as it sounds. Sure the whole thing may involve a bit of experimenting with regard to the best dog food that's suitable for your much older pet, but it becomes much easier as you go along.

One of the more crucial points to keep in mind when it comes to setting up the ideal diet regimen for senior dogs is that "less is more." While there should be fewer calories, the amount of nutrients per serving should be a lot. This is why supplementing with fatty acids, fish oil as well as glucosamine and chondroitin is highly recommended for this application.

Benefits of Proper Nutrition As Your Dog Ages

senior Lab with a corn cob in its mouth

As we've pointed out earlier, the concept of "nutrition" in much older dogs should not be restrained to just providing the ideal serving of dog food. It also has to do with giving your aging pet the right nutritional requirements his body needs to stay in tiptop shape.

The following are the beneficial effects of giving your senior dog food that not just satisfies his appetite and palate, but also helps maintain his overall immune system. Additionally, these will also help improve your much older dog's quality of life:


It will be easier for your senior Lab to maintain a healthy weight.

It's not uncommon for much older dogs to have a fluctuating weight when they reach their senior years. Having the right nutrition on your checklist won't make your aging Lab lose or gain too much weight at a time. However, get in touch with a pet homeopathy expert or a vet as soon as possible when your pet loses more than 10% of his body weight in less than three (3) months.


He will be much more resilient to bone and joint health issues.

Weight management through proper nutrition in senior dogs is not just about curbing obesity, which can lead to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, and kidney disease. It also prevents putting too much strain on the muscles and joints which can possibly result in chronic pain, stiffness, and degenerative joint disease.


He won't be easily prone to problems affecting vital organs.

Vital organs are considered as such because they perform specific functions that are needed to keep your senior dog alive. Regardless if you're serving dry dog food or the wet, canned variety, your aging pet's organs will function properly if you observe the "fewer calories and more nutrients" rule that we stressed earlier.


Your much older dog's energy levels still remain high.

Although your much older pooch is not as high-spirited compared to when he was still younger, giving him proper nutrition helps ensure that he will still engage in the same games and activities as before. It is important to take note that a drastic reduction in movement in senior dogs is a big factor in muscle atrophy and joint degeneration.


He won't be prone to sudden digestive ailments.

It's not uncommon for aging dogs to have significant changes in metabolism as well as in their gut motility. The best dog food for your much older Lab should be able to keep him nourished while also maintaining ideal digestive function at the same time. Going for options that are bolstered by added nutrients like fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals as well as glucosamine and chondroitin is a smart strategy.


Must-Know Nutrition Tips for Aging Labrador Retrievers

senior Lab in the backyard

We're saving the best for last, of course! Below are some practical and straightforward tips on how to improve your senior Lab's nutrition. Akin to all things that have a significant effect on your much older pet's overall health and quality of life, keep in mind that consistency is key to pulling the whole thing off:


#1. Regularly consult a vet or a pet wellness expert.

Getting in touch with a pet health expert or a vet on a regular basis helps you gauge if the current diet regimen you have for your senior pooch is working or not. Given their knowledge and expertise, a vet or pet wellness pro can also suggest a much better strategy to keep your dog's nourishment ideal during his golden years. They can also provide critical assistance in times of emergency.


#2. Avoid serving human food to your senior dog.

If we're being honest, there are common denominators between human food and those that your much older pooch can consume. However, this doesn't mean that all human foods are safe for your senior pet. It is crucial to take note that there are ingredients that may be toxic to your dog's body. Always go for food preparations that are specifically formulated for canines.


#3. High-protein diets are a must for adult dogs.

Protein is essential to maintain muscle mass. Due to significant changes in their metabolism, absorption of nutrients, and possible underlying health conditions, aging dogs may have a problem getting as much protein from their diet. This is why choosing high-protein dog food options is a must for your senior Labrador.


#4. Always factor in both the ingredients and your aging Lab's nutritional needs.

Buying dog food for your senior Lab isn't just about picking the first thing that's on the top shelf. Whether you're planning to buy dry dog food, wet food, or the canned variety, it's crucial to complement your much older dog's nutritional needs with the ingredients. This is to ensure that he will get the nourishment he needs while also satisfying his appetite and palate.


#5. Never immediately go for "fad diets" aimed at senior dogs.

Subjecting your aging Lab to weight loss diets and similar nutrition-based regimens without consulting your vet or pet health professional in advance can be very dangerous to your pet. Before you even think about engaging your much older pooch in the same, listen to what the experts have to say first. The consequences may be very serious or even fatal in some instances.


#6. Bolster senior dog food nutrition by using natural supplements.

Integrating natural supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin, essential fatty acids, as well as other similar products in your much older pet's regular diet can be beneficial to his overall health and wellness. However, it is very important to make sure that the supplement you're using is premium in quality to maximize the benefits your senior dog is getting.


A Premium Natural Product That Promotes Ideal Digestive Health

Speaking of premium natural supplements, Zumalka's PROBIOPET is designed to promote a healthy and balanced digestive system in dogs that are already in their golden years. Gastrointestinal function is commonly affected by aging and this could lead to health concerns like constipation, diarrhea, bloating, flatulence and similar issues.

PROBIOPET not only helps stabilize your senior pet’s digestive system health but also promotes a balanced gut flora to keep nutrient absorption and gastrointestinal function ideal. Naturally with you and your pet, every step of the way!


About the author

Suzie Cyrenne
Suzie Cyrenne


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.

Through the guidance of her mother-in-law and fellow natural health expert, Denyse Lessard, Suzie constantly devotes herself to create premium pet products that are aimed at dealing with the root causes of wellness problems and not just their symptoms.

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.

Find out more about Suzie when you click HERE.

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