WEDNESDAY, March 30 (HealthDay News) -- Even though most Americans might believe that "senior" dog food is formulated differently than food for young adult dogs and pups, experts say that brands can vary widely in their ingredients and there are no requirements for what goes in foods for older canines.
A new survey finds that most Americans think that senior dog foods are lower in protein, sodium, fat and calories.
"But when we actually looked at the diets, there was an incredible range," said Dr. Lisa M. Freeman, co-author of a paper appearing in the latest issue of The International Journal for Applied Research in Veterinary Medicine.
The manufacturers "might be increasing protein, decreasing protein or keeping it the same," said Freeman, who is professor of nutrition at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in North Grafton, Mass. "That emphasizes to us to look at the individual animal, and not all aging animals need a different diet. It's much, much more important to look at individual dogs."
The issue is close to home for many people, given that better medical care now allows many more pets to live longer lives.
The confusion stems from a variety of sources, one of which no doubt is the perception that there are minimum standards that must be met for dog food to qualify as "senior."
Although professional organizations do stipulate requirements for pups and adult dog food, the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the National Research Council have no such requirements for food marketed for aging or "mature" canines (beyond what's required for adult dog food).
Also, the term "old" is extremely relative in the canine world. The average lifespan for an Irish Wolfhound is only about six years but "a toy poodle at 7 is very young still," Freeman explained.
Some "old" dogs may be the picture of perfect
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