Weight Loss and Senior Dogs
Protein = Muscle + Maintenance including Growth + Energy source
Carbohydrates = Simple Sugars and Starches= Instant Energy Source
Meat Fats & Fish Oils = Energy Source
Healthy weight control is very important for your dog, unfortunately many dogs that may appear to be healthy due to their size and weight may not be as healthy as you think. You first have to understand the basics, there are two types of body mass that you can control, the first is called Lean Body Mass (LBM) the second if Body Fat (BF) so it is quite common for a dog to look healthy where in fact its BF is filling the gaps where the LBM should be, you can also get a situation where the dog looks skinny as it has minimal BF but is extremely fit and athletic.
Protein is the single most important element to a dogs diet, it is processed for building/repairing of muscle tissue, growth, maintaining & repairing of organs and so on. Any unused protein is simply expelled from the body in the faeces and urine. Once the body has converted the protein into muscle it can in extreme cases then be converted into energy although the body will need sufficient protein to replace the muscle mass that has been used and the simple addition of more energy in the diet will minimise this muscle conversion. Meat fat and fish oil from the food is processed for energy, and if not used it is then stored as fat for use at a later time. Excess fat or lack of exercise or both will result in a dog showing signs of obesity although if there is adequate protein in the diet the LBM may still be healthy.
Most if not all dog food manufacturers carefully calculate the fat content so this should not really be an issue, however, should you feed your dog table scraps this may lead to an excess of BF. Carbohydrates on the other hand are a source of energy that is very easily absorbed, this makes it very difficult to control, quite simply if the energy is not spent the dog will gain weight. When your dog eats, the carbohydrates are absorbed first as they are the easiest energy source to convert, unfortunately this is where the weight control problem lies as all commercial dog food contain carbohydrates in varying degrees with some as much as 80%.
It currently is not a legal requirement to state the Carbohydrate content of a dog feed but it certainly should be.
Knowing what you are feeding your dog and what the effects are caused by the food is pretty much all you need to know, having a dog that appears overweight is the most difficult to control as you can see its Fat Mass but you can’t see its Lean Body Mass, in this case it is important to feed a lower calorie food and increase the exercise, reducing the feeding amount is the wrong thing to do as you will be restricting the protein intake which the dog needs for maintenance, strangely enough reducing the feeding amount may lead to the dog gaining weight and becoming less active. Body cells die on a regular basis, and if the diet doesn’t contain adequate protein the LBM will deteriorate and the ability to utilise what energy is in the food will reduce which leads to the dog’s undesirable weight increasing.
Whereas a lean dog is quite simple to correct, in this instance a food with a higher calorie content or a food that has a lower protein content which allows you to feed more is required. Care must be taken when selecting which food as if you select a really high meat/fish content food with a high protein content you will struggle to add weight, as the actual feeding amount is restricted by the protein content, feed too much of it and the dog will be unable to produce adequate stomach acids and enzymes to break the food down which results in loose stools and little or no nutrition passing to the dog and feeding a portion which the dog can process efficiently may not contain adequate energy resulting in the dog continuing its struggle to gain weight. Feeding a food with a higher calorie content of a food that will allow you to increase the feeding portion will provide the dog with ample energy, any unused energy will be stored as body fat for later use.
Should your dog show undesirable weight gain or weight loss, increasing or decreasing the food can be the wrong thing to do. Veterinarian advice should always be sought as there may be underlying issues.
Most dogs unlike humans can manage to a certain extent without Carbohydrates, but for most this is not practical or affordable so a compromise has to be forged, with this in mind where do you draw the line?
Millie’s recipes have been formulated to provide a range of foods to suite different activity levels and situations, all our foods provide the dog with ample protein with a high meat content and a realistic amount of carbohydrates in the form of healthy vegetables and fruits which coincidentally have a perfect range of vitamins and minerals for a healthy and active lifestyle. When comparing dog foods remember if it only has 25% meat content most of the remaining amount will be carbohydrates and the actual amount of quality protein will be a fraction of what is stated on the bag.
Senior dog’s food requirement
During recent years many pet food manufacturers have launched “Senior” ranges for dogs of 7+ years, while this seems logical it is somewhat irrelevant as contrary to popular belief as dogs get older their protein requirements actually increase by as much as 50%. Recent clinical studies have found that dietary protein is required to provide essential amino acids as the body is in a state of accelerated decay, as the dogs body cells are dyeing at a faster rate the requirement for quality complete protein is increased as the protein is needed for repair and maintain the ageing tissue and bones but unfortunately when protein intake is reduced the lean body mass is slowly reduced which results in your dog losing muscle tissue, becoming less active and potentially increasing in overall weight, in addition to this the dogs immune system will begin to be compromised together with deterioration in organ functionality.
Of course it is not as simple as this as some older dogs suffer from weight gain due to calorie intake as most if not all Senior foods available are low meat-low protein-high carbohydrate foods which are probably the most unsuitable diets to give to aging dogs, these types of foods tend to use high levels of plant protein which puts undue pressure on the liver and kidneys as they are trying hard to process proteins which simply cannot be processed..
To put it simply, older dogs need a higher protein (meat/fish) intake and a lower calorie intake, as certain Millies formula's already achieve this a senior range in not required. Millies is suitable for all life stages of dogs and will be advantageous in controlling weight.
Do dogs need carbohydrates?
The answer is Yes and No
There are many theories and debates based on this and it all depends on the activity level of your dog.
In theory a dog does not need carbohydrates as it can harvest all of it nutrients and energy from meat and fats however for those dogs that lead active life’s or are modestly worked we have found the high meat/low carb diets are lacking in energy and can result muscle mass reduction as they have to convert their muscle mass into energy.
Most domesticated breeds have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years with most living off cooked table scraps up until the introduction of commercially produced dog foods in the mid 1800’s, even then it was not widely used until the 1950’s when demand increased as the convenience was more desirable.
Domesticated dogs are quite simply Not Wolves, as Wolves will eat mostly meat and very little in the way of carbohydrates, they also only spend energy whilst hunting, and will gorge then spend lots of time in minimal activity mode as there is no need to spend energy, whereas domesticated dogs especially active and working dogs may spend considerably more energy on a day to day basis and this constant expenditure of energy requires fuel, should there be insufficient energy in the diet in the form of either animal fats and or carbohydrates the dog will convert its own muscle mass into useable energy which can result in a dog that struggle to maintain weight whereas if there is too much carbohydrate or indeed animal fat the dog will gain excess body fat especially if the exercise level is minimal.
So for the less active working and sporting dogs a higher meat content food with minimal carbohydrates is suitable and for the more active full bore working and sporting dog a higher quantity of quality carbohydrate is suitable.
When your dog’s working season comes to an end it may become necessary to switch foods to ensure your dog does not consume foods that contain too much energy as they may gain excessive weight, carbohydrates that are not used for energy will go on in the form of body fat.