FEEDING PROGRAM OF OLD AND RETIRED DOGS AT KIPP D´AMUNDSEN SIBERIAN HUSKY KENNELS
This feeding program has been developed through the years and our personal experience with aging dogs, and from learning how they benefit from different nutrition supplements and food itself. We hope this will provide information for others, whoes dogs are about to enter the „senior“ life stage, already reached it or are suffering from some age-related health issues, as we in our 16 years of living with dogs learned from everyday experience that if they are properly fed and taken care of, they can enjoy their retirement to the fullest and gain longer, healthier life in general.
Most of our retired sled dogs have reached ages such as 14 an 15 years, with good health, condition and spirit and we believe it is mainly due to four major aspects:
* Good condition gained through regular excercise
* Good genetic health
* Continueous attention, love and care after they reach their retirement stage
* Excellent nutrition throughout their entire lives and at their senior age
This is not a „complete how to“, but mainly a list of what and why we use and recommend the mentioned products and supplements, what experience we have with them and how our dogs benefit from them.
Our kennels´ feeding and nutritional program of course varies for we have different generations of dogs and their activity and nutritional requirements differ.
We use both, commercial products (but only natural) and natural/raw supplements and food.
DOG FOOD (commerical dry kibble)
I have been asked many times by many dog owners, mushers, and breeders, as well as our company´s customers, about my view at commercial dry dog food and have been earlier often given a question what dog food would I use besides Eagle Pack. Here is a list of brands we recommend as we feed them ourselves or have good experience with them in general. Each recommended brand is provided with „reasons“ why we recommend them and what are their advantages:
* Eagle Pack (USA)
* Troll (Norway)
* Robur (Sweden)
we use for our old dogs and those completely retired from sledding is MAINLY Eagle Pack SENIOR CARE 26/10, and for some dogs, to whom it seems more benefitial and suitable depending on mainly their energetic needs, we also use Troll ELITE 23/11, or at some cases Robur LIGHT & SENSITIVE 19/7. All these feeds are easily and highly digestable, palatable and well ballanced for the needs of aging dog´s organism. Now the Light and Sensitive Robur formula may have too little energy for many senior dogs and should be used only to those with special protein requirements, obese dogs or those with tendency to put weight on.
We ONLY reccomend these three dog food labels and formulas for the old dogs. Why? Most producers have the wrong approach towards senior dog nutrition and formulate their senior diets with not enough quality protein and fat and instead they use increased carbohydrate levels, which cannot provide the dog with enough protein and energy to maintain their muscels. It is VERY important that aging dogs receive daily the right amount of quality protein to keep their muscels in order to supporst the aging bones, joints and skellet in general. Enough of quality fat is necessary to provide with corresponding energy and to secure healthy and shiny coats.
In this way, we haven´t found a better dog food on the world market than Eagle Pack SENIOR CARE formula and we are also more than satisfied with Troll ELITE, which we are giving to some of our senior dogs since 2004.
MEAT and/or CANNED FOOD
We feed our senior dogs, stationed outside with raw meat as well, and that we do since the temperatures drop (during October) throughout the winter and spring, until it warms up again at the end of April/beg. of May. Supplementing with raw meat is a good way to provide some extra protein and fat, necessary to maintain the dogs´s energy requirements in the cold weather. Once the tempratures drop to below zero, we introduce a watering program to all the outside dogs, which basically means we water them 3 times a day. We supplement the raw meat into the morning feeding, which consists from grainded raw meat from several sources – chicken (swedish chicken is hormone free), beef and fish (mainly salmon or streamer). This type of meat also provides a good portion of quality fat, containing Omega 3 fatty acid. We always and only use this meat for we not only have the best experience with it, but it is everytime freshly produced and well frozen when we pick it up dirrectly at the producer. It is very important to use one producer all the time to make sure of the quality consistency, and not to switch from one to another frequently.
We live in the northern part of Sweden where the temperatures can be as low as in southcentral Alaska, for example, so this type of supplementing is a need for us.
We also supplement our senior dogs with canned food. Not only does it provide the dogs with extra quality protein and fat they need, but is 100% ballanced and very palatable, so some of the picky eaters will appreshiate their food much better and will usually without any problems eat all their aditional supplements. As well as with the meat and kibble, it is very important to use a quality canned food, not just a supermarket type, no matter how nicely it may smell.
Throughout the years of experience and trying and testing different kinds of canned food, we found out that only these three types „qualify“ and we use only those in our feeding program:
- Eagle Pack Holistic Canned Food – all formulas (they have a large variety of chicken, beef, lamb, liver, turkey, salmon and duck) - american
- Troll Elite Canned Food – based on three meat sources, including fish and hormone free chicken - norwegian
- Bozita Canned Food – also many formulas, including chicken, poultry, beef, lamb, raindeer and moose – swedish
All are meat-based, containing around 90% of it, and they are all not only very highly digestable, but taste excellent and dogs just simply LOVE them. None of them contain artifical colors, preservatives or aroma, mix well with dry food and with water.
The high quality canned food is a great option for dogs with sensitive digestive trakt, special dietary needs, dogs that have problems to chew (which is often an issue with an old dog) and are suitable solution for those dogs that need to be put on a low protein diet for some time.
Both, raw and canned food also provide the dogs with necessary enzymes that are not present in any kind of dry food.
Below is a list of natural nutritional supplements we regularly give all our senior dogs. We have the best experience with the mentioned products and again, we have tested them amongst others and found them the most suitable and benefitial to our dogs:
- Olio Vivo Active – cold pressed oil, obtained from corn germs and wheat germs, containing garclic, vitamie E, D, A and some trace minerals, including Selen. Not only does this oil have an antioxidant action, it has the right level of Zinc, which is very important for the dogs´ feet, coat and skin. This oil, whos name in italian means „life oil“, provides with the right ratio of Omega3 and 6 aminoacids, protects and strenghtens the heart and all other muscles, enhances the skin and coat and boosts the imune system.
We do not only feed this oil to our old dogs, but we give it to ALL our generations!
Along with Olivo Vivo Active, there´s one more, all natural supplement you will find in the feeding program of all our generations, Alg-Börje´s Acophyllum Nodosum: - green algae from islandic sea, supplied by swedish company Alg-Börje. This sea weed has a strong concentration of amino acids, as well as the B-vitamin complex, mega doses of vit.C and contains many other essential antioxidants amongst minerals and trace elements (eg. copper, zinc, selenium and manganese). The daily dosage is small and the dogs mostly like it´s taste of the ocean. It comes in tiny flakes as a meal, so it is easily mixed into the dogs´ daily food. Some of our older dogs are picky eaters and for those we use the algae in a form of tablets, that are also available.
- Aglio Plus Dog Formula – dried grinded high quality asian garlic and herbal supplement, that inclueds also echinacea, yeast and tansy. It is an excellent aid to the digestive tract, as it not only enhances the dígestion, but also it´s antibacterial and antiseptic agents aids the microflora. It boosts the imune system, helps to fight and prevent colds and respiratory deseases and also takes action in anti artrhitis and revmatic process as well as is beneficial to the lungs and respiratory system in general.
This excellent, affordable supplement comes from the same producer as Olio Vivo Active. We also give it to all our generations.
We also have the experience that both Aglio Plus DF and Olio Vivo Active make the food more palatable and dogs usually love it´s taste.
- Omega3 pure salmon oil – this norwegian unique supplement is also called „probably the purest oil out there“ and comes from a large norwegian company, providing this form of oil to humans, horses, dogs and cats. It doesn´t smell and comes from the fish from the cleanest northern seas, with no heavy metals found in many other fish-oil supplements. It´s unique way of processing gets rid of any possible harmful components as well as keeps all the essential values of acids.
We feed Omega3 oil all year round to all our puppies, athlets, seniors, breeding stock and other dogs.
- Joint support/nutrition – due to the fact, that most of our old dogs are fed Eagle Pack Senior Care formula, containing 40mg of glucosamine per 1kg of dog food and yucca schidigera content, they are quite „covered“ in this way. Dogs in our kennel that are in the training pool and racing teams get a lot of joint support and we see it´s results on them, when they retire. They usually have NO problems with joints, no pain, etc. But once they reach the 12 year mark, we still feel they should be given some extra.
Therefore we supplement with Aglio Plus Dog Formula (described above), as well as with a product called CANIVITON. We chose it amongst the other offer on the market because of it´s several unique ingredients. First of all, it can be given to dogs of any life stage, second – it doesn´t only contain the typical chondroitin-glucosamin-MSM formulation (90.000mg/kg of glucosaminoglycans), but also megadosis of vitamin C (5.000mg/kg), and that is important not only to protect the tissues and overall health, but it also prevents lots of orthopedic deseases. The positive thing is that this supplement does not contain any of the minerals such as calcium, phosphorus or magnesium, so it doesn´t interfeer with or inbalance levels of these minerals, contained already in the high quality food the dogs are getting. Caniviton also contains vitamine E and selenium – both very valuable antioxidants.
Eagle Pack Holistic Transition – probiotic/digestive enzyme supplement with contents of brewres dried yeast. This excellent food supplement from Eagle Pack is a must have in every dog owner´s household! It is especially efficient when we feed other brands than Eagle Pack, which already contains both, probiotics and digestive enzymes. It helps the old dogs to digest their daily food and utilize all the nutrients to their fullest, as well as prevents intestinal infections and diarrhea, caused by virus, stress or simply not so well functioning digestive tract. It is ideal for all dogs with sensitive stomachs as well as when switching from one food to another. The EP Holistic Transition is especially designed for use in older dogs and for switching between formulas or brands
Mabye it is time to mention what we do NOT supplement with, and that is any type of vitamine/mineral or so called „mulitvitamin“ supplement. The dogs receive the right and necessary amounts of them in their senior dog food – provided it is the „right type“ and formulation for their aging organism and a 100% balanced, AAFCO or other state institue, aproved dry dog food. (And that´s also why we use only the above mentioned brands).
Any suplementation of this kind can be very harmful and may result in lots of serious deseases.
RAW FOOD and SUPPLEMENTS
By raw food supplements we mean mainly fruits and vegetables:
Carrots – all our dogs love it and it is SO healthy! The only problem we have is that we have around 30 dogs year-round so it is impossible to give it to all of them, unless we found a dog handler who would cut and peal and slice it every second day or so :)
But we manage to give carrots (slightly cooked or steamed or fresh) to puppies and seniors. It is very beneficial to older dogs as it improves vision and contains an important antioxidant called beta-caroten which they are usually missing in their daily diet. Carrots also aids digestion and protects the stomach and intestine walls.
Blueberries and Cranberries – nothing tasts better than self-picked berries from the clean nordic mountains or forrest. They support the immune system, prevent kidney and prostate problems, neutralize pH, work as antioxidants and blueberries also support the digestive tract.
Please note that the berries should be mixed or pressed prior consumption, otherwise the dogs will just pass them through their system without absorbing any of their benefitial ingredients.
Sometimes we also use blueberries and cranberries in a form of tablets, made by a canadian health-food company SWISS HERBAL, who also supplies us with other antioxidants and herbs our dogs, such as St.John´s Wort, Evening Primrose, Selenium, Zinc, Ester-C vitamin and others.
Apples – excellent source of vitamin A, support immune system, help to detoxicate the organism. They taste great and dogs usually love them.
Flax Seed – wonderful natural source of Omega3 fatty acid, also cleans and aids digestion, good source of fibre. Flax Seed should always be either cooked or grinded before consumption otherwise will just pass through the system without any effect. Regular flax seed supplementation gives shiny, beautiful coats and healthy skin to all dogs, cats and horses.
Throughout the years we discovered several very effective supplements, in a form of tablets, that help old dogs with some health issues they are likely to develep due to higher age:
One of the most excellent products for senior dogs there is is called KARSIVAN. We are more than extremly satisfied with these tablets. It has no side effects, no extra vitamis added, it is not a typical „drug“ and is very effective supporting the dogs´ heart and blood circulation system, aids better oxygen distribution to all the cells and especially to brain. We do not only see the regained vitality in most of our old dogs, but signs of senility are lowered to minimum and our 14.5 year old Happy that experienced a stroke recovered completely with her brain functionating normal again.
It can be given to cardiacs, kidney patients, senile dogs, dogs suffering from prostate problems, motorics problems, etc. Ask your vet about this great supplement, which is in a way medication, as it is definittley worth it!
Another good thing is ESSENCIAL FORTE – a liver enhancer with also natural compounds and no side effects. We use it in our 13+ aged dogs as a liver booster and of course in case there are any higher values on the liver blood result taken regularly.
Occasionaly we provide our seniors with pure vitamin E supplement, using usually 200 or 400mg and quality, proven brand. Try to avoid synthetically produced vitamin E or C.
Same when it comes to vitamin C, but we try not to use too strong form, as vitamin C of high quality and levels is already present at their dry kibble and in the Caniviton joint support supplement. If you wanna try it and your dog gets diarrhea, it may mean you overdosed the vitamn C and a lower value should be used instead. Between 250 and 500mg is the daily dosage you might be looking for to add to your dog´s food. We use ESTER-C, a highly absorbable, non-sour form made by canadian company called Swiss Herbal.
What has really proven to us as a great, all natural, herbal and effective supplement is PROSTENAL, which comes in capsels. It helps against senility, incontinance as well as fights and prevents prostate problems, which are so common in senior males. It also aids kidneys. It is a supplement for humans and you can find it in a pharmacy shop.
We highly reccomend this supplement in combination with vitamin E400 to be given mainly to aging dogs that are still used as stud dogs, as is enhances fertility.
Last, but not least – we usually feed the dry kibble dog food and supplements together in one meal, but to some, especially very old dogs it is much more benefitial to split the amount given to 2 smaller meals – morning and evening. In that case, we put all the supplements in the evening food, before the dogs´ complete night relaxation.
We also feed the dry kibble with only about half cup of warm water put over it dirrectly prior serving. Contrary to many reccomendations by breeders or veterinarians, dry commercial dog food should NEVER be soken in water several hours prior feeding, as it will break down the food and destroy many essential nutrients and the bigger volume given will only force the food to pass the system faster, withour properly utilizing it by the dog´s body, as well as it increases the danger of stomach torsions and other related issues. Also, it should never be mixed in hot water, over 35°C, especially when you feed Eagle Pack or probiotic supplements, containing live friendly bacteria, as you would destroy them completely.
Please, also remember that this program we just presented to you has been developed to suit the needs of our senior dogs the best way and we do not force anyone to do the same thing. It is not a „how to feed your senior dog“, but a program, compound throughout 16 years of living with dogs of a working breed called siberian husky that we simply decided to share with you to provide you with our experiences and mabye answers to questions you may have concerning nutrition of aging dogs.
© Copyright 2006, Katerina Paleckova, Kipp d´Amundsen Siberian Husky Kennels
NOTE: This arcticle is courtesy of Kipp d´Amundsen Siberian Husky Kennels and may be used for your own personal information or posted on your website as long as credit is given to the author.