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Ask the Vet – March

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about what to feed a Golden Retriever during his senior years, and the proper diet for a one-year old German Shepherd.

Q: Our German shepherd puppy is currently on Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy Health Recipe dry dog food. When I switch her to adult food, would it be okay to use Wellness CORE Grain-Free Formula or would I have to stick to a large breed formula like Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Adult Health Recipe?

A: I recommend feeding your large breed dog the Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy Health recipe dry dog food until about one year of age. After one year, many pet parents begin transitioning to Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Adult Health Recipe as the logical follow-up diet of choice in the product family.

Some pet parents prefer to feed a more protein-focused diet to the large breed adult, such as one of the Wellness CORE Grain-Free dry dog food products. The three Wellness CORE Grain-Free Formulas are formulated for adult maintenance feeding and we avoid recommending them in a growth program to limit calcium and phosphorus to minimum growth levels recommended by AAFCO for large breed dogs.

Start your transition to a new feeding regime by obtaining an accurate body weight on a scale and estimating a body condition score. Record this data for future reference.

When choosing a Wellness dry dog food, consider the diet caloric density:

Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Adult Health Recipe 336 kcal/cup

Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Recipe 360 kcal/cup

Wellness Super5Mix Large Breed Puppy Recipe 366 kcal/cup

Wellness CORE Ocean Recipe 417 kcal/cup

Wellness CORE Original Recipe 421 kcal/cup

Your one-year old, active, nearly mature, 60 pound dog is going to need somewhere around 1000-1200 kcal per day. Don’t forget to observe stool quality when you make dietary transitions. When switching to a new food, loose stool is often an indicator that a dog is being overfed. If this happens, try decreasing the amount fed by 10 to 15% and divide the meals into two or three per day instead of one big meal.

Q: I have a five year old Golden Retriever dog that eats Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Formula Dry Dog Food. I am being told by my vet that he is already considered a senior pet. He does have white hair covering 50% of his face and has problems with shoulder and hip arthritis. Do I need to change him to a senior food—if so when? Is there such a thing as Senior Wellness CORE?

A: You can certainly continue to feed Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Recipe dry dog food. Senior dogs have different nutritional needs because lean body mass (muscle), weight, activity levels and digestive efficiency all decrease with age. Determining when to switch to a senior diet should be decided with your veterinarian based on your dog’s size, breed (large breed dogs tend to age more quickly than small breed dogs) and age. The most important consideration in a feeding program during the “aging of the pet” is changing the calories offered based on what your pet needs. Body weight should be monitored frequently and follow the feeding guidelines, adjusting to feed more if your pet is underweight or less if your pet is overweight.

Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors and Wellness CORE Reduced Fat Recipe both offer lower calories to help your dog maintain a healthy weight, which can be helpful in reducing the stress on your dog’s joints.

Obesity Prevention for Pets

Keeping Pets at a Healthy Weight

Keeping a healthy weight is as important for our pets as it is for us!

If you think obesity is an epidemic that affects only people, you may be barking up the wrong tree. Pets also have to watch their weight. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, 44 percent of dogs and 57 percent of cats are overweight or obese and that percentage is rising, with older animals displaying an even higher incidence of falling victim to those extra pounds. Veterinarians report overweight pets are also more likely to suffer from arthritis, heart and respiratory diseases, liver disease, skin problems, hip and joint disorders and diabetes.

“Just as for people, eating right and getting exercise are fundamental to a pet’s health and true well being,” says board-certified veterinary nutritionist Edward Moser, MS, VMD, DACVN. “Paying attention to the ingredients and amount of food that your pet consumes, along with increasing their activity levels, will help the pounds come off and stay off.”

To help fat cats and pudgy pooches slim down, Dr. Moser says owners should choose a balanced diet with ingredients that can help naturally solve this challenging health problem. Like those recipes offered by Wellness® Natural Pet Food. For those plump feline friends, Wellness Healthy Weight Dry Cat Food is just the remedy. This special lower calorie recipe is formulated to help them achieve their weight loss goals. A healthy blend of fiber satisfies hunger and guaranteed levels of glucosamine and chondroitin support overburdened hips and joints. For health striving canines, Wellness® Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Recipe Dry Dog Food is a satisfying, lower-calorie blend of ingredients that helps less active dogs maintain a healthy body weight and overweight dogs lose weight. And it satisfies dogs’ appetites with increased fiber, reduced fat and a lower calorie count.

Instituting a controlled eating plan is a step in the right direction down your pet’s path to achieving wellbeing, but increasing your pet’s activity level is sure to help too. Exercise is essential for a pet’s happy and long life. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but regular exercise is key. Setting aside a period of time each day for your pet’s physical activity helps encourage a routine with your pet and also gives them something to look forward to. Take your dog for frequent walks and be certain your cat has room to romp. That can help them burn off excess calories. “Remember, 2 extra pounds on a small dog can be like 20 extra pounds on a person,” says Dr. Moser. “It’s important to watch your pet’s weight.”

March – Ask the Vet

Dr. Moser

Dr. Moser

This month, Dr. Moser answers your questions about weight loss for a Manx and switching to Senior Dog Food.

Q: My Manx has gained 2 lbs and I want to get her back to a healthy weight. I have been feeding her 1/2 cup of Wellness® Healthy Weight Recipe Cat Food per day. She is 11 years old and has not lost any weight just yet since switching from Wellness CORE. Do you have any suggestions on how I can help her lose weight?

A: The first step in any weight control program is to accurately measure body weight and estimate a body condition score.  Get a pediatric or small animal scale that you feel comfortable weighing the cat on at home; or visit your vet.  Also, assign a body condition score to the cat.  To find out how to do a body condition score, visit www.acvn.org and click on Statements and Endorsements– and then on AAHA Nutritional Assessment Guidelines.

You did not mention the body weight of the cat—so let us assume that your cat is 12 pounds and your goal is to get to an optimal weight of 10 pounds. At 10 pounds, the Resting Energy Requirement (RER) is about 215 kcal per day; for weight loss you want to offer 70% of this or 150 kcal per day. This translates to about 1/3 cup of Wellness Super5Mix® Healthy Weight Recipe Dry Cat Food per day.  Try to spread it out over at least 2 meals during the day.  This is a small amount of food — only about 42 grams, so expect to see hunger behavior.

Increase the cat’s activity as much as possible and weigh the cat on Tuesdays and Saturdays of each week.  Record the weight in a notebook with daily feeding information.   Remember cats should lose no more than about 1% of their body weight per week.  Modify the amount fed when the desired weight is achieved.


Q: I have an 11 year old Shih-Tzu and I’m thinking that I should begin using the Wellness Super5Mix® Just for Seniors Recipe Dry Dog Food. Would this be correct or should I be looking for physical cues before switching her purely based on age?

A: Just like humans; dogs and cats require special care as they grow older. Mature adult body size is a good indicator of longevity in dogs.  Small breeds of dogs such as the Shih-Tzu, tend to mature quickly (about 9 months of age) and become seniors in their mid to late teens.  On the other hand, large breeds like Great Danes , mature more slowly ( 15 -20 months) and become seniors by about 7 years. For this reason, small breed dogs generally have longer longevity than large breed dogs.

The first step in setting up a geriatric program for your aging dog is to schedule a senior wellness visit at your local veterinary clinic.  Make sure there is no disease or other condition which imposes specific dietary guidelines; and that the veterinarian does not recommend any type of special nutrient restrictions or enhancements.

In your healthy aging Shih-Tzu, I recommend feeding Wellness Super5Mix Small Breed Adult Health Recipe Dry Dog Food for now.  I am in favor of the enhanced level of dietary protein and omega -3 fatty acids for the long silky coat.  Note the omega 3 fatty acid contributing ingredients like salmon meal, salmon oil, menhaden fish meal and flaxseed found in this Wellness recipe.

Continue to monitor the senior dog’s body weight, drinking and urination behaviors, total food intake per day, stool quality, activity and skin and coat condition.  At some point you and your vet may consider feeding a traditional senior dog food like Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors, which has less protein and fat – and increased fiber to support weight maintenance.  Both Wellness Super5Mix Just for Seniors and Wellness Super5Mix Small Breed Adult Health Recipe dry dog food have added glucosamine HCl and chondroitin sulfate to aid in hip and joint health.