Petfood Industry - January 2018 - 34
34 | www.PetfoodIndustry.com
➥ADDRESSING HEALTH ISSUES IN OLDER DOGS WITH PET FOOD
■ Diets formulated to help manage weight
■ Natural sources of glucosamine and chondroitin, and
omega-3 fatty acids to help support healthy joints.
■ Omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids for skin and coat.
Those omega-3 and -6 fatty acids may protect more than a
pet's skin and coat. One type of omega-3 fatty acid, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), may help the brain function well later
in life, Gomez said. Higher levels of DHA may protect against
cognitive decline in humans and dogs.
"Fish oil and microalgae are sources of DHA, an essential fatty acid, which is an integral part of neuron cell
membranes," he said. "Selenium is another essential element
vital for brain function."
Products made from certain varieties of yeast, such as
Alltech's Sel-Plex, can provide selenium, he said.
"One important aspect is that there is no individual functional ingredient that is the answer or silver bullet to stop the
changes associated with aging," Gomez said.
Instead, pet food formulators must determine how the
ingredients work in synergy with other parts of a pet's diet
to address age-related health issues, he said. Senior pet food
formulations may need to adjust levels of vitamins, minerals
"For dogs as they age, their metabolism changes and
caloric needs decrease typically after the age of 7 for most
breeds," Gomez said. "Senior dogs have an increased need for
dietary protein, however, and may benefit from diets with an
increased protein-to-calorie ratio, providing a minimum of 25
percent of calories from protein."
Aging dogs' senses of smell and taste decline
The aging process adds insult to injury by reducing dogs'
senses of smell, taste and vision. Pet food formulators can
crank up the flavoring to entice older pets.
"As pets age, their sense of smell and taste becomes less
acute, which can cause a disinterest in food," Butterwick
said. "As a pet food manufacturer, Mars Petcare brands have
developed senior pet food with intensified aromas and flavors
to increase the appeal for aging dogs. In terms of palatability,
older animals tend to find room temperature wet food more
palatable because of the soft texture, as older dogs teeth may
become more sensitive, making it difficult to chew dry food."
While most functional ingredients do not alter palatability due to their low inclusion rate, high levels of fish oil can
negatively affect expansion rate during the process affecting
palatability, said Gomez.
When a senior pet food achieves high palatability, enticing
sensory characteristics and proper nutrition, and uses beneficial functional ingredients, that recipe may help the growing
population of older dogs age gracefully. ■