Arm Your Dog Against The Effects Of Aging
Diabetes mellitus, Type I (insulin dependent-70 percent to 80 percent of diagnosed cases) and Type II (noninsulin dependent-20 percent to 30 percent of diagnosed cases) are common in older dogs. Type II almost always is associated with obesity.30 Often, when obesity is reduced in animals with abnormal insulin secretion responses, glucose tolerance improves.31
Diabetes often is a chronic condition in older dogs, but, especially in Type II cases, it may be treated successfully by getting to a proper weight and following the general dietary guidelines outlined below. Veterinary diets for diabetes are available from your veterinarian.
The general diet guidelines for the management of diabetes mellitus start with feeding nutritionally complete and balanced foods that follow the Association of American Feed Control Officials Nutrient Profiles.32 Aconsistent proportion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins should be followed, and more than 40 percent of the calories should be provided by complex carbohydrates. Fat should be restricted to 20 percent of calories, and high-quality protein sources should be used for increased bioavailability. Diabetic dogs of normal or greater weight should consume a moderate amount of fiber.
The care of diabetic canines requiring insulin demands even more owner involvement. Owners of these dogs may find that learning to give their diabetic pets injections is more convenient than taking the animals to the vet frequently.
Diet plays a big role in canine health, but it is clear that not all geriatric conditions stem directly from a poor diet. Like humans, aging dogs may develop ailments that focus on the internal organs.
Kidney And Liver Failure
Unfortunately, both kidney and liver dysfunction are more common in older animals. However, numerous veterinary diets are available to reduce the load on either or both organs, hopefully with positive results. Frequent testing of kidney and liver function is required, and once manifested, the conditions tend to be chronic but often manageable for the rest of the dog's life.
The previous prevention strategy for kidney disease called for a reduction of protein in the diet. Newer research has shown that reduced protein can cause decreased immune competence and increased susceptibility to stresses such as infection and injury. With age, the geriatric canine is less able to maintain sufficient protein synthesis, and protein turnover also declines, so to preserve adequate protein reserves the older dog actually requires about 50 percent more protein than the young adult dog.33 Furthermore, the current testing protocols for renal function, creatinine and blood urea nitrogen (BUN) levels more correctly reflect diet rather than renal function. Current research focusing on the use of fermentable dietary fibers to divert nitrogenous waste to the fecal matter, rather than to the kidneys, shows a great deal of promise.34