Expert tips to help your dog age happily and healthfully.

Cailin Heinze, VMD, MS, DACVN (petfoodology.com)
Advertisement

A dog very quickly becomes part of the family. And when your pet is part of the family, it's so hard to think about losing them as they get older. Nobody wants to say goodbye to their best friend before they have to. So, is there anything you can do to help your dog live longer? And how can you make sure they are happy and healthy as they age?

There is no specific diet or supplements to help dogs age well. The most important diet-related factor in longevity is keeping your pet trim for life. Research shows that Labradors that were fed 25 percent less since puppyhood (and were thinner) lived up to two years longer than their heavier littermates. They also had fewer joint problems as they aged. Of course, you don't want to starve your dog, but making sure they are not overfed and stay active and trim will help them grow from a healthy puppy into a healthy adult.

Choosing a dog food with real, recognizable ingredients—like Purina Beyond—is another easy way to ensure your pup is eating nutritious meals, and we love that Purina includes a handy guide on the bag to take out any serving-size guesswork.

For older dogs already showing signs of stiffness, there are therapeutic diets available from your veterinarian that are very high in omega-3s, which can decrease pain and improve mobility in dogs with existing arthritis.

Another common concern with older pets is cognitive dysfunction-"doggie dementia." Older pets can take longer to learn, forget their housetraining and have altered sleep-and-wake schedules. Some special diets supplemented with specific fats and antioxidants as prescribed by a vet can reduce these issues and enhance learning, helping to ensure that their golden years are happier for the whole family.

Read on!

Send us your pet question at AskUs@eatingwell.com