27 April, 2011
By: Dean Ricard, Canadian Association of Raw Pet food Manufacturers
Fifty years ago, dogs were considered geriatric at age of 12 (average size dog). Now they are considered geriatric at age of 8. Dogs are put on a "geriatric" formula at a seemingly younger and younger age, and seem to age faster.
So what are the nutritional needs of senior dogs? Senior dogs tend to get less active and therefore require fewer calories for their daily activities. In terms of their need for protein, fats (polyunsaturated), vitamins and minerals there is no decrease and in fact as they age, they require more "digestible" nutrients to continue to support their immune system against the natural process of aging.
Raw food being more natural and easier for dogs and cats to digest, less time and energy is spent on conversion of nutrition. This contributes to a reduction in need for digestive tract and organ performance allowing those vital conversion processes to last/perform longer.
While it is the opinion of many that, the raw food diet is a lifelong necessity not all pet owners come to that thinking early on. This is not to say that conversion of an older dog to raw food should not be done, just that certain factors and expectations need to be considered. First raw food will not cure any already established disease. What it should do though, is offer some relief and support the general health of the pet.
Second conversion of older dogs should be done with care and caution so as to not exacerbate any underlying issues. Adding yogurt or other pre-biotic to the current meal prior to conversion can help. Also do not mix the raw and dry kibble food. This can cause imbalances and a poor outcome in the process. Preferably no biscuits or cookies should be used at this time either. Start by dividing the total daily meal requirement in to 3 or 4 portions. Feed these over the course of the day (morning, noon, night) for at least 3 to 4 days. Then divide the quantity in to 2 meals for the next 3 to 4 days, and then to 1 meal if so desired.
Tend to under feed for the first 2 weeks, and only feed enough to keep the pet in good weight. An obese dog is not a healthy dog; an underweight 'looking' dog may be healthier.
One of the major factors identified in aging, and cancers, are free radicals. Free radicals are highly reactive molecules found all around us that can cause oxidative damage to our cells. The only thing that can slow down this process is antioxidants - molecules that inhibit free radicals. Antioxidants are found in living foods such as fruits and vegetables and are destroyed by cooking and other heating processes. Feeding your dog real raw foods gives their bodies access to antioxidants, which help slow down the aging process.
Many dog owners report improved health and vitality in their dogs after switching. Most common comments are improved coats and reduced scratching/itching. Improved dental hygiene is nearly always indicated, with fewer, or no need, for teeth cleanings. Conversion of one of my older dogs and subsequent improvements, lead a former confirmed sceptic to realize there is something to this.
About the Canadian Association of Raw Pet food Manufacturers:
The goals of the Canadian Association of Raw Pet food Manufacturers (CARPFM) are based on the true belief that companion animals benefit greatly from a diet more closely related to their hereditary and biological makeup.
The primary goal is to credibly produce safe quality products. The members are all investing, in both equipment and process controls, on a continual basis with the common view of producing safe products. A set of Good Manufacturing Practises (GMP's) have been developed that are being used as a guideline for development of production methods at member facilities.
Another goal is to encourage the companion owners to consider what is being fed to their pet, and educate them to the thinking behind a raw pet food diet. It is the membership's belief that once understood their products make the most sense for companion animals. Of course this will also need to include the veterinary community who are starting to support the members activities.