After you are 35 years old, you begin to lose 1-2% of you muscle yearly. After 5-6 years of age your dog will begin to lose .5-1% of her muscle mass yearly. This muscle loss, or sarcopenia, will occur to 100% of humans and 100% of dogs. It can only be prevented or slowed by eating more protein and weight lifting. You can do both. Your dog can’t lift weights, but he can eat more protein in his senior years.
So why are senior diets for dogs lower, not higher, in protein?
Senior Dog Diets
As a general rule, commercial dog foods are not very high in protein (20-28% of calories). Senior diets are often 18% of calories from protein to protect older dogs from kidney disease. Why? Managing chronic kidney disease requires a lower protein diet. But only 10% of geriatric dogs will develop chronic kidney disease in later life.
And guess what, protein doesn’t cause kidney disease and this amount of protein in commercial foods is still not low enough to help a dog that does have kidney disease.
So why design senior diets for the 10% of dogs with kidney disease when 100% will experience muscle loss? It doesn’t make sense.
Better would be to have a senior blood profile run on your dog and check her kidneys. If she does have kidney disease, then she can be put on a truly kidney friendly diet. If, like most dogs, his kidneys are working fine, you can feed a high protein diet and preserve his muscle tone. The Well Dog Place offers many options (dry, canned, frozen, refrigerated and homemade) that are all high in protein content.