Food Allergies in Older Dogs (Care & Needs)
It is not uncommon for senior dogs to develop allergies to foods that have been safely consumed for many years. Your dog may have been fed chicken all her life and then, seemingly out of the blue, chicken is no longer a safe ingredient in her food.
Older dogs, however, have specific dietary requirements compared to when they were younger.
Balancing the correct diet while avoiding ingredients that may cause allergies can take some time to get under control.
In this post, I’ll be covering the main areas that should be considered regarding allergies in senior dogs, and also considering the specific health issues common to older dogs.
Special Considerations for Food Allergies in Older Dogs
Why even bother separating food allergies in older dogs from younger dogs or even puppies?
Food allergies in senior dogs do require some different considerations compared to younger dogs. Joint issues, heart problems, obesity, gastrointestinal problems, and kidney disease are all common health considerations for older dogs.
If a senior dog has a specific food allergy then knowing the best alternative foods is valuable information to have.
Let’s dig deeper into this topic and discover the best ways to help your best buddy with food allergies.
Best Foods for Older Dogs With Food Allergies
If you have a senior dog with food allergies, then it’s not just the allergies of course that you need to be concerned with.
Older dogs have specific health conditions specifically due to their advancing years.
Depending upon the breed of dog, a few dogs may start to see some early signs of older age creeping in at 8 years old.
Kidney disease, for example, is a very common health issue for senior dogs, and certainly at 8 years old and above, many dog breeds can begin to suffer from this condition.
Beyond 8 years of age, other health issues can become noticeable also.
Some conditions are quite specific to certain breeds of dog, but some are more general and can be seen in virtually all breeds of dog.
As a dog advances in years, her activity levels decrease. This reduction in activity can lead to obesity if the quantity of food you give her remains constant.
As a dog advances in years, her activity levels decrease. This reduction in activity can lead to obesity if the quantity of food you give her remains constant.A Decrease in Activity Leads to Obesity
Then, a side-effect of obesity can be heart disease. But it should be noted, that dogs can also suffer from heart conditions even without obesity being an issue.
For some senior dogs, gastrointestinal and incontinence problems can also develop.
Leading up to this point, you’ll probably notice that many of the symptoms of old age in dogs are very similar to the same symptoms that we humans suffer from as we grow older.
Best Allergy-Free Dog Food for Senior Dogs With Joint Issues Such as Arthritis
Many senior dogs certainly suffer from joint pain. It is quite heartbreaking to see your best friend struggling to get around after all the years of activity that you have shared together.
But the pain associated with painful joints such as the pain that arthritis causes, can certainly be helped by feeding your dog the right foods and supplements.
The following foods are very low-risk foods regarding food allergies in dogs, but they offer superb anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties to help dogs with painful joints and arthritis.
Celery is an excellent food for senior dogs with allergies as it is in low in calories which is excellent for avoiding obesity, and it also has anti-inflammatory properties. Celery contains calcium and healthy vitamins to help maintain joint strength. You can simply add celery to your dog’s regular dog food and gain immediate and long-term health benefits for your dog.
Fish oil. Many people swear by the amazing properties of Omega-3 fatty acids that fish oil provides for dogs. For senior dogs with allergies, Omega-3 fatty acids, are probably the best thing you can get to help with itchy skin problems for your dog.
One downside of fish oil, however, is that it’s heavy in calories. So if you do decide to feed your dog Omega-3 fatty acids, then reduce other ingredients in their food slightly to allow for the extra calories in the fish oil.
One type of fish oil to avoid is cod liver oil for your senior dog, as this is too high in vitamins A and D, and is not recommended for dogs.
Turmeric has been getting a lot of positive press recently, and for good reason. Turmeric contains anti-inflammatory ingredients and reduces pain and stiffness in joints. Turmeric is also great for dogs with food allergies as it is very rare to hear of any dog suffering any ill side effects.
Turmeric works by cutting off the specific enzymes that cause swelling and pain, and this reduces the pain within the joints.
A longtime favorite food for dogs with allergies is blueberries. Blueberries are super safe for senior dogs with allergies and they boast very high levels of antioxidants which are responsible for fighting cancer and easing inflammation.
Additionally, the powerful antioxidants in blueberries assist the healing of the connective tissue between the joints and these are then strengthened further reducing the pain in the joints.
A direct relation of turmeric is Ginger. Ginger can also reduce arthritic pain and is an anti-inflammatory. Ginger is also known for helping with stomach upsets so this can also be an added benefit for your dog if she has gastrointestinal upsets.
Coconut oil is another superb supplement for your dog. Coconut oil offers anti-inflammatory qualities and is excellent for older dogs with allergies as it typically has no side effects for dogs. Joint pain and arthritic pain are also assisted using coconut oil.
One other useful benefit of coconut oil is that it tends to give dogs an energy boost which is invaluable for older dogs, as they have more energy to work off a few calories.
Food Allergy Considerations for Older Dogs With Heart Problems
If your dog has heart problems, then speaking to your veterinarian is the very first step.
Fortunately, there are no real dog allergy issues associated with food considerations for senior dogs with heart problems.
Giving your dog foods with reduced sodium is certainly a wise choice, however. It is advised to reduce sodium in your dog’s diet but not too quickly. Reduce it in phases.
In the past, protein levels used to be reduced for dogs with heart disease, but these days that practice has changed. Dogs with heart disease can suffer from a loss of lean body mass and reducing protein makes their condition worse.
It is better to provide your dog with moderate protein amounts and avoid high protein or low protein diets.
Earlier, I mentioned Omega-3 fatty acids and their benefits for dogs. Omega-3 fatty acids are certainly good for dogs with allergies, but for dogs with heart disease, they can be a problem, as these oils thin the blood which can have an adverse effect on your dog’s health.
Speak to your vet regarding this issue if you plan to give your dog Omega-3 fatty acids and your dog already has heart issues.
Low-Calorie Foods for Senior Dogs With Food Allergies
When an older dog has food allergies, it can often be quite difficult knowing what are the best foods to give her.
For senior dogs with food allergies, just like with any dog with food allergies, it’s useful to know the specific foods to which your dog is intolerant. Once you know the allergen you can certainly avoid that specific food. But then you also need to have a balanced diet that gives your dog the best levels of nutrition that she needs.
The best type of foods for senior dogs with allergies should be high protein, low carbohydrate, grain-free, low-fat, and should ideally contain Omega-3 fatty acids and also omega-6 fatty acids.
There is nothing wrong with purchasing dog food off the shelf at your pet store, but make sure to read the labels fully and try to ensure that they include all the recommendations just mentioned
Best Allergy-Free Dog Foods for Older Dogs With Sensitive Stomachs
While many dog allergies in senior dogs affect the skin, some allergies also affect the stomach. Vomiting, diarrhea and excessive gas could point to a food allergy.
If you think that your dog is suffering from a food allergy, then the best way to tackle it is to feed grain free food and limit the number of ingredients to just 3 or 4 ingredients per serving. Keep it simple.
The best and safest 3 foods will be composed of a source of fiber such as brown rice or pumpkin, protein from either chicken or lamb, and fresh vegetables or fruit (or both). If you are already aware that your dog is allergic to chicken then lamb is certainly a good second choice because both chicken and lamb are generally easily digested by dogs.
Best Foods for Senior Dogs With Allergies and Kidney Problems
Fortunately, the types of meals for dogs with kidney disease are typically low-risk foods regarding allergies.
Kidneys expel the unwanted elements from food eaten during the day via the urine. Kidney disease prevents that process from taking place.
Kidney disease and salt are very bad partners, so ditch the salt entirely from your dog’s diet.
Continuing to feed your dog salt can result in a loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst, excessive sleep, and further kidney damage.
Dogs with kidney damage need lots of fresh drinking water so make sure that it’s always available. You should also avoid any foods containing phosphorus. The Liver won’t be able to process phosphorus if the kidneys are not functioning and will cause even more health issues for your dog.
Here’s a Great Recipe for Dogs With Kidney Disease
The ideal world would be one where our dogs didn’t grow old and they didn’t become sick. Sadly, we don’t live in such a world. But the next best thing is that we look after our dogs the best ways that we can.
I wish you and your dog the very best of health.