Making the Most of Your Dog’s Mature Years
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As your dog reaches his mature years, remember these tips:
- Minimize stress and change. Avoid big moves or changes in your dog's schedule. If you must disrupt a routine, give your dog some added attention to ease the adjustment.
- Give him regular exercise. Take him for two 15-minute walks each day to help maintain muscle tone, enhance circulation, promote digestion, and prevent weight gain.
- Feed him smaller, more frequent meals. Instead of one large portion a day, try two or three smaller meals, which will help your dog burn calories by stimulating his metabolism.
- Take him for routine veterinary checkups and immunizations. Regular dental care and thorough physicals will reveal subtle changes in your dog's health. At home, frequently examine him for any odd-shaped bumps or lumps. If you discover something unusual and it seems to be growing rapidly, call your veterinarian. Early detection and preventive treatment can go a long way toward extending your friend's life.
- Give him great-tasting, premium pet food. As your dog ages, he may become less interested in eating. Make sure he gets tasty, nutrient-dense food that's gentle on his digestion.
As Dr. Michael Hayek, an IAMS™ research nutritionist who specializes in geriatric nutrition, points out, there's still much to learn about canine geriatric nutrition. For now, realize that every animal ages at a different rate and in different ways. Monitor your dog and especially watch for changes at around 7 years of age (5 years for large breeds). If necessary, adjust his diet accordingly. With the help of your veterinarian and responsible pet food manufacturers, your mature pal can live to a comfortable, healthy old age.
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- adp_description_block455Nutrition for Large- and Giant-Breed Adult Dogs
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Healthy joints and proper weight are especially important for dogs that grow to be more than 50 pounds. But not all large- and giant-breed adult dogs have the same nutritional needs. Is your dog getting proper exercise? Is she about to have puppies? Special conditions can dramatically affect your dog’s nutritional demands. Giving her a food specially formulated for her large size, life stage and activity level is the easiest way to make sure she’s getting the nutrients she needs.
Choosing a Food for Overall Health
To address the special needs of your large- or giant-breed dog, look for these features:
- Less fat to help maintain an ideal body condition for less joint stress
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for healthy skin, shiny coat and overall health
- Essential vitamins and minerals to help support the immune system and help maintain good health
- High-quality animal-based protein sources to help maintain muscle tone
- A moderately fermentable fiber source, such as beet pulp, to maintain intestinal health, enhance your dog's ability to absorb nutrients, and reduce backyard cleanup
- A carbohydrate blend to help sustain energy by maintaining normal blood sugar levels
These components are key to good nutrition. Look for them in treats, wet dog food, or dry dog food, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Adult Large Breed.
Maintaining Healthy Joints and Cartilage
Joint health is a big concern for owners of large- and giant-breed dogs. A large- or giant-breed formula that contains high-quality protein can help nourish healthy joints. Vitamins and minerals help promote the production of cartilage. Also, keeping your dog at a healthy weight will help minimize joint stress.
Guarding Against Weight Gain
Dogs with lower activity levels and dogs that have been neutered or spayed are all prone to weight gain. Controlling your dog’s weight is an important step toward protecting against the health effects of excess weight, such as diabetes or joint health problems. If you use a weight-management food, look for these characteristics:
- A reduced fat level that still offers essential nutrients for skin and coat health
- L-carnitine, a key nutrient that helps burn fat and maintain muscle mass during weight loss
- Special carbohydrate blends that help maintain energy while managing weight
- Vitamin-rich fish oils for overall health
Providing Nutrition During Pregnancy
Pregnant dogs have substantial nutrition requirements. Starting in the seventh week of her pregnancy, a mother dog will need to increase her energy intake up to 50% by the time she gives birth and increase it even more when she starts nursing her puppies. Because she may lose her appetite at times, it's important that she eats a nutrient-dense food. A complete, balanced puppy formula can give her the extra nutrients she needs. But avoid puppy food created for large and giant breeds; these formulas contain specially adjusted levels of energy and minerals that may not be sufficient for a pregnant or nursing dog.
Switching to a Mature Diet
Dogs who grow to be more than 50 pounds are considered mature or senior at age 5 or 6, which is earlier than small-breed dogs. So, it’s critical to make a proactive transition to a specially formulated mature diet, such as IAMS™ ProActive Health™ Mature Adult Large Breed, to help keep your dog healthy and active as she ages.
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