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The raw dog food diet trend is still going strong despite many discouraging voices arguing against it, thanks to a growing number of testimonials by ordinary dog owners. The health benefits of feeding raw food diet also apply to senior dogs. In fact, they might even benefit from raw food diets more than younger dogs because of their higher nutrient efficiency.
Raw dog food recipes for senior dogs are easy enough to make, however, it’s the sourcing of high-quality ingredients where the challenge lies. If you add in the all-natural quality of homemade food or that of subscription services like We Feed Raw, you have a pretty solid feeding option on your hands on par with fresh food or premium commercial food.
Just as with any other dog, you can make your own dog food for the furry friend in your life that’s gotten on in years. And they don’t have to taste like old people food either! Treat your senior dog to these raw, homemade dog food recipes that are delicious as well as nutritious.
How Senior Dogs’ Dietary Needs Differ From Other Dogs
The primary thing that sets a senior dog’s diet apart from a younger dog’s diet is the need for more protein. Age makes all living things lose more muscle mass every day. For older dogs, this means that you’ll have to feed them up to 50 percent more protein than adult dogs in order to prevent their muscles from atrophying. Lightly cooked fresh dog food is a good source of protein, but raw meats are even more packed with quality protein. Both types can be acquired through dog food delivery services.
Now, while fixing that may seem as easy as just giving them more muscle meat and organ meat to boost their protein intake, you also have their phosphorus-calcium balance to worry about.
The more meat dogs eat, the more calcium they also need to intake to make sure that the phosphorus in the meat doesn’t weaken their bones. Not to mention that older dogs don’t really move around that much anymore, making weight gain more of a concern.
Fortunately, senior dogs also need a lot of calcium anyway in order to reinforce their aging skeletal system. Still, the need for more calcium presents another problem: with dogs in their prime, you can simply feed them raw food with plenty of meaty bones since their jaws are strong enough.
But with seniors, you’ll have to make use of bone meal to fulfill their calcium requirement. The average required ratio of calcium to phosphorus provided by the American Association of Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) is 1.3 parts calcium for every 1 part phosphorus .
So if you take a pound of ground beef, for example, that contains around 717 milligrams of phosphorus on average. Multiply this by 1.3 and you get 932 milligrams of calcium for every 1 pound of beef you feed. Remember to look up the phosphorus content of any recipes you find online to find out the commensurate amount of calcium you need to supplement your dog with.
And now onto the raw dog food recipes:
Turkey and Veggie Patties
Turkey is one of the best low-calorie sources of protein a dog can get. Here’s a turkey recipe with plenty of calcium and other vitamins and minerals, that’s also easier on elderly dogs’ teeth.
- Lean ground turkey: 3 lbs
- Chicken or turkey hearts: 0.5 lb
- Beef liver: 1 lb
- Farm fresh eggs (pastured preferred): 3 pcs
- Broccoli: 0.5 lb
- Kale: 0.5 lb
- Bone meal: 2-3 tbsp
- Pumpkin seed powder: 1 tbsp
- Green beans: 0.5 lb
Cube or grind the raw meat ingredients that aren’t ground, and mix it in with the ground turkey. Then, puree or finely chop the fruits and veggies in a food processor (you can simply leave the green beans whole if you prefer).
Put all of these in a bowl and crack open the fresh eggs over it. Mix thoroughly. You can also keep the eggshells in the patties for extra calcium if your dog is okay with it.
Remember to get bone broth powder instead of the bone meal you can get from garden suppliers or hardware stores. Better if you could find products specifically designed to be put into dog food.
Alternative sources of calcium, such as seaweed powder or bone you’ve ground up yourself, can also be used instead of bone meal as long as you make sure to strike the right ratio of calcium to phosphorus. This recipe makes about 3 to 4 days’ worth of food for a 50-pound dog.
Raw Beef Stew
Almost every dog likes beef, and if your dog is one of them, you don’t have to deny them this treat even when they’re older. You just have to make the recipe as healthy as possible.
- Beef stew meat, fat trimmed off: 3 lbs
- Beef liver and offal: 1 lb
- Flaxseed or hempseed oil: 1 tbsp
- Mixed veggies (carrots, kale, broccoli, etc.): 1 lb
- Water: 2-3 cups
Chop up the beef stew meat into one-inch cubes, or whatever size your dog prefers to chew on as long as you keep them relatively small. Chop the vegetables as well, into pieces manageable for your dog. Mix all ingredients in a bowl until homogenous.
Can last up to 3 days for an average-sized dog, or more if their activity levels are fairly low. You may want to warm this recipe a bit if serving portions previously frozen, however.
Fish and Turkey Salad With Beef Organs
This recipe includes alfalfa meal, which is great for reducing joint stress. Alfalfa meal helps a lot for senior dogs who are prone to or already have osteoarthritis. Feel free to include it on other recipes, but try to get approval from your vet first to make sure it’s appropriate.
- Turkey necks, thighs, and breasts: 2 lbs
- Mackerel, Tuna, Herring, or other oily fish: 2 lbs
- Beef hearts, livers, and kidneys: 1 lb
- Farm-fresh eggs (pastured preferred), raw or lightly boiled: 2 pcs
- Celery: 4 0z
- Spinach: 4 oz
- Carrots, sliced: 4 oz
- Broccoli: 4 oz
- Alfalfa meal: 1 tbsp
Grind up or chop meat into bite-sized pieces. Chop or mince veggies in a food processor, and mix with all other ingredients.
Then, sprinkle alfalfa meal over everything. Remember to remove fish bones beforehand. You can also opt to use bone meal if you don’t want to use bony turkey parts.
If you want to mix something cooked to any of these recipes, sweet potato and brown rice are some of the healthiest options.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is raw food good for senior dogs?
Properly sourced raw dog food can be very beneficial for senior dogs because of their higher nutrient efficiency compared to cooked food.
If you can make your own raw dog food, that’s even better because you can be sure that there are no unwanted artificial additives involved.
What is the healthiest homemade dog food for senior dogs?
The healthiest homemade food options for a senior dog would be all-natural fresh or raw recipes that incorporate fresh vegetables and organ meat.
Some artificial supplements would still be okay to mix in though. Ask your vet about the best food supplements to include in your homemade raw dog food.
How much raw food should I feed my senior dog?
Senior dogs tend to need fewer calories as they get older, so try to give them reduced portions compared to what you would give younger adult dogs.
The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center has a comprehensive calorie calculator to help you figure out the right amount to give your pet.
How do I start my senior dog on a raw diet?
The best way to do so is by slowly introducing raw food into their meals. Most pet owners start by giving meals that are 3/4 their usual food and 1/4 raw food. After a few days of feeding raw food in these portions, it’s increased to 1/2 raw and 1/2 regular, and so on.
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