Before embarking on a homemade dog food for your senior pet, take him to the veterinarian for a checkup, including blood work. You and your vet can then discuss the right homemade diet for your dog -- meeting all his nutritional requirements -- based on his current condition.
Elderly canines often have kidney problems, so their food should contain lower amounts of protein than that of younger dogs, to lessen strain on these organs. Because constipation is a frequent problem in older dogs, their food should have additional fiber. The right mix of meat, vegetables and perhaps a bit of fruit can provide the well-balanced diet necessary for your dog's health.
Old Friends Homemade Recipe
Old Friends Senior Dog Sanctuary, based in Mount Juliet, Tennessee, provides permanent and temporary foster homes for elderly canines. Its website provides a recipe for "Auntie Stew," with the entire meal cooked in a crockpot. The ingredients include:
- 2 pounds of boneless chicken thighs and/or breasts
- 1 pound of catfish or whiting
- 4 ounces of chicken gizzards and/or livers
- 8 ounces of carrots
- 1 apple
- 12-ounce package of frozen green beans
- 1/2 cup pumpkin
- 1 small sweet potato
After cooking in the crockpot for 12 hours at 250 F, place the stew in a blender or food processor. After blending, add 1/2 cup of plain yogurt and 1/2 cup of psyllium husk. This recipe should feed an average dog for several days, and you can also freeze it. Check with your vet to ensure this is an appropriate food for your dog.
Whatever homemade recipe you feed your dog, don't add any salt, fat or spices. Yes, you can taste test the food, but you're not making it for yourself or your human family. Your dog won't think it needs a little extra "something" to improve the taste, and that little extra could harm him.
If your dog is deficient in the tooth department, you can feed him the homemade diet approved by your vet but in a pureed version. You can also add broth to minced meals or blended meals.
Your vet may want you to tweak a particular recipe so that it's completely balanced or includes nutrients your old dog especially needs. Ask your vet about adding supplements to the homemade meals. Your vet may recommend an MSM/glucosamine supplement to help relieve arthritis aches, or an omega-3 fatty acid supplement to help his skin and coat. She may also suggest giving your dog a daily vitamin/mineral supplement.
These supplements are especially important if your aging dog has absorption issues. If that's the case, he may benefit from supplements in powder form -- which are more easily mixed into his food -- as powders are usually better absorbed and used than pills.