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Discussion Starter #1
I have a 12 year old shih tzu that has picked up a bit of weight in the past few months as he has slowed down some. I used to feed him once a day (1 cup), but recently started feeding him 1/2 cup in the morning and around a 1/4 cup or so in the evening (I keep a 1/2 cup measuring cup in his food bin and just scoop about half of the measuring cup in the evening .. so it might be 1/4 cup in the evening up to 1/3 cup or so). The dog food calculator recommended .81 cups a day but apparently that is too much.

Right now I would say he is a bit over his best weight (should be around 13 1/2 lbs). He always ran lean and muscled, but has slowed down the past approx. 6 months (it's so hard to see your dog get older :( ). He weighed about a pound heavier than that at his last vet visit. He has a bit of a degenerative issue with his hind quarters but still can run and play fetch with his toys.

I'm trying to decide if I should decrease his food to 1/3 cup morning and evening. It already seems like so little food (it does to him too, you can tell ... in his prime he was free fed and never had a weight issue since he was so active). His vet recommended he be fed a senior food, so he currently eats (and seems to enjoy) Blue Buffalo Senior.

Any recommendations food wise? I've been happy with Blue Buffalo and he has done well on it. He's always had a sensitive stomach and been prone to gastritis and hasn't had any issues with it in years. Is there a way to stretch it out so he isn't done with his meal in oh .. 3 seconds?

Thanks for any ideas!
 

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You can add green beans (No Salt--frozen or canned) to his kibble to stretch it out and make him fuller without the calories. My JRT only gets 1/2 cup of kibble a day, but fortunately for me, she is a light eater and this seems to satisfy her. (she is 12 lbs).

I am with you. It is so tough to see them slow down. My golden is doing the same thing.
 

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You might consider going to a higher protein food to maintain lean body weight. He may appreciate a joint supplement as well. Don't bother with a food containing that supplement as even the expensive prescription kibble doesn't contain as much as a properly dosed supplement.

If he enjoys his food so much why not use a puzzle toy to feed it? I sort of wish Max ate enough small bits to justify buying a kong wobbler as they are easy to load and clean unlike the bazillion food puzzles I already own. It will keep him on his feet, wagging his tail and make you happy to watch him play too. Max adores batting around an empty plastic water or milk jug with a couple of small dry treats in it though. He likes the racket it makes I suspect.

Here is an article on feeding seniors. Max eats raw and gets a joint supplement that has really helped him out. Going from 22% protein kibble to 45% protein raw put strong muscle on him even as a senior dog but that means I really cannot suggest a particular food that could help you out.
http://dogaware.com/articles/wdjseniordiets.html
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
edited: I think that (or a similar article) is what made me question my vet's recommendatinos. He was giving the "easier on the kidney's argument, but I haven't found a lot to back it up. Maybe I should switch back from his senior food to the regular. sigh. So much to figure out sometimes.

I will say that Blue Senior is still 23 percent protein so at least it doesn't dip down as low as some of the others.
 

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edited: I think that (or a similar article) is what made me question my vet's recommendatinos. He was giving the "easier on the kidney's argument, but I haven't found a lot to back it up. Maybe I should switch back from his senior food to the regular. sigh. So much to figure out sometimes.

I will say that Blue Senior is still 23 percent protein so at least it doesn't dip down as low as some of the others.
I'm pretty sure they only make one Senior formula, and it's 18%. In the dark blue bag.
 

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i give my two chis 1/4 cup a day they are still adults but you can reduce it as well as adding green beans to replace some of the kibble they have a good weight
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)

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I would suggest feeding the Wellness Senior formula. It's a quality diet with appropriate nutrient levels. If your veterinarian is concerned about less stress on the kidneys a food with a lower phosphorus level and lowering the nitrogen by-products extreted by the kidney (unsued protein) will certainly help.

The Blue Buffalo Life Protection does not list its calcium and phosphorus values which concerns me. This is not one I would recommend unless I knew the values. I would be iffy about the Blue Buffalo wilderness. The protein that is not going to be "used" by the body is going to be excreted as nitrogen by the kidneys which I would want to minimize.

At his age I would recommend annual bloodwork if nothing has been diagnosed to date to keep an eye on things like kidney values, liver values etc.
 

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in addition to that, make sure she is getting enough Glucosamine and MSM. it helps their little bodies replenish cells faster and eases joint pain. you can grab some on amazon: like this BF Joint Max product i have been using for the past year

i thought i was going to have to put my 13 year old mutt down because she was failing to thrive, then i got her on some of this stuff and she perked up and is much happier.
 

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Ca/P is listed as 1.3:9% of the food in BB Wilderness on the link Galathiel posted.

Wellness Senior is lower at .9:.75 Ca:p. It has 18% protein and 3,220 kcal per kilogram so if my Max ate 200 grams a day he would get 36 grams of protein in 640 calories with 1500 mg of phosphorus, well over his 800 mg requirement per NRC.

If I fed him BBW which has 3,395 Kcals/kg or 339 calories per 100 grams he would eat about 180 grams of food to get the same 640 calories a day and get 54 grams of protein and 1600 mg of phosphorus.

http://wellnesspetfood.com/product-details.aspx?pet=dog&pid=58&dm=completehealth#guaranteed-analysis

Senior dogs need more protein than healthy adult dogs as they don't process nutrients as efficiently. Sick Sassy lost muscle mass on 22% food when she had huge muscle on it as an adult. As I posted before muscle supports joints and they hurt less and dogs stay up and moving which is good for the whole body.

I am not seeing any advantage for kidneys feeding low protein Wellness.

Joint supplements are great too, use one! Max gets a human grade one and has noticeably perked up. His raw diet that is rich in glucosamine only goes so far apparently.
 

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Senior dogs need a higher protein food. Since yours has gained a little weight, I suggest Wellness Core reduced fat.
 

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Ca/P is listed as 1.3:9% of the food in BB Wilderness on the link Galathiel posted.

Wellness Senior is lower at .9:.75 Ca:p. It has 18% protein and 3,220 kcal per kilogram so if my Max ate 200 grams a day he would get 36 grams of protein in 640 calories with 1500 mg of phosphorus, well over his 800 mg requirement per NRC.

If I fed him BBW which has 3,395 Kcals/kg or 339 calories per 100 grams he would eat about 180 grams of food to get the same 640 calories a day and get 54 grams of protein and 1600 mg of phosphorus.

http://wellnesspetfood.com/product-details.aspx?pet=dog&pid=58&dm=completehealth#guaranteed-analysis

Senior dogs need more protein than healthy adult dogs as they don't process nutrients as efficiently. Sick Sassy lost muscle mass on 22% food when she had huge muscle on it as an adult. As I posted before muscle supports joints and they hurt less and dogs stay up and moving which is good for the whole body.

I am not seeing any advantage for kidneys feeding low protein Wellness.

Joint supplements are great too, use one! Max gets a human grade one and has noticeably perked up. His raw diet that is rich in glucosamine only goes so far apparently.
I'm not as concerned about protein level for a senior dog as I am about Calcium and Phos ratios. If the vet is suggesting to reduce stress on the kidneys I'm thinking there is a reason for it. I wouldn't want to see anything above 0.9% phos level so foods like Blue Buffalo or Wellness would be fine to feed. The protein source could be debated, feeding a higher protein should not harm him and may benefit him. Blue Buffalo wilderness would be a good option, somehow I just missed the values when I was looking which is my bad.

I would stay away from brands like Orijen or TOTW in this case (yes high protein source) but after checking into the phosphorus levels they are just too high for a senior in my professional opinion.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
The vet was recommending a senior food strictly because of Rai Li's age; he's in good health, except for his neuro thing going on with his hind quarters. It doesn't slow him down and he's had it for years. It's just more noticeable now because he walks more (as opposed to trotting/running everywhere he goes).
 

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No offense to your vet but vets don't get much for nutrition classes. Really, your dog does not need a senior food.
 

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No offense taken on my part. These are definitely old school vets who always recommended Purina back in the day. I'm switching to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior which is 30 percent protein and 10 percent fat. The protein percentage is higher than many other regular dog foods, much less senior and with a bit less fat so maybe I can keep him in trim. The ingredients are good too. :)
 

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No offense taken on my part. These are definitely old school vets who always recommended Purina back in the day. I'm switching to Blue Buffalo Wilderness Senior which is 30 percent protein and 10 percent fat. The protein percentage is higher than many other regular dog foods, much less senior and with a bit less fat so maybe I can keep him in trim. The ingredients are good too. :)
It's not even old school vets. One of my former vets, a few years ago, was in her 30's and tried to get me to use Purina vet diets. Umm, no thanks
 

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It's not even old school vets. One of my former vets, a few years ago, was in her 30's and tried to get me to use Purina vet diets. Umm, no thanks
Actually I just did a CE course through PVD and they actually support the high protein levels. I think the title of the section was "Myth: Seniors should be fed low protein diets" and went on to explain that research since then has shown this belief to be misguided and went on to discuss how senior dogs can benefit from a higher protein and to explain a study by Nestle Purina to back up said information. It's the phosphorus level that needs to be lower then a "regular" diet that is important to kidney function. In a veterinary kidney diet for animals with severe kidney problems the phosphorus level is as low as 0.2-0.35% compared to commercial diets 0.9% of senior diets. There is a time and a place for veterinary diets and yes they can be benefitial. The research behind that proves it. If there is an alternative, it may be worth looking into the alternative first but sometimes its more benefitial for the dog to use a veterinary diet. There is a time and a place for them.
 
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