7.1INTRODUCTION 7.1 INTRODUCTION

Manipulation of dietary intake in older animals is necessary when there is either:


(1) frank clinical disease present
(2) subclinical disease present
(3) the nutritional requirements of the individual have changed.


Commercial pet foods have been formulated specifically for old dogs and in the future it is likely that foods will be developed for older cats as well. The justification for such products is based upon several premises:


(1) That older animals have different nutritional requirements from younger adults.
(2) That it is desirable to reduce the dietary intake of certain nutrients because they may be risk factors for the development, onset or progression of age-related changes.
(3) That it is desirable to reduce the dietary intake of certain nutrients because they may be risk factors for the development, onset or progression of disease processes.
(4) That it is desirable to increase the dietary intake of certain nutrients because of an increased requirement in older animals due to ageing changes in various organ systems.
(5) That it is desirable to increase the dietary intake of certain nutrients because of increased requirements due to the likely presence of subclinical disease.
(6) That many owners feed their animals a ration that greatly exceeds their nutritional needs.


Insufficient work has been done on the nutritional requirements of older cats and dogs or on the effects of nutrition on age-related changes, and so the first two premises are controversial. However, the role of certain nutrients in some common diseases of old animals is well documented and many of these diseases are often slow and insidious in their onset and progression, and so dietary manipulation may be beneficial. Good examples are endocardiosis in dogs (see Chapter 2 ) and chronic renal failure in both cats and dogs (see Chapter 5 ).

It is true that many owners feed rations that grossly exceed the nutritional needs of their animal so reducing dietary intake to meet requirements may be beneficial, will help reduce the likelihood of obesity occurring and is unlikely to be harmful.