As we and our pets age, our bodies’ metabolisms slow down. It is a process that is completely inevitable, which is why most individuals (and their pets) start gaining weight as they grow older.
For dogs, this begins to happen anywhere around the age of 5 to 7 depending on their diet. Animals that are spayed or neutered can start to have weight-gaining tendencies even earlier.
But is there any way to boost your dog’s metabolism? Can you actually make your dog’s metabolism younger than what your pet’s age is?
Can you reverse a dog’s metabolism?
The short answer to this question is no. You can make some improvements on how your dog processes food, on their quality of life in general, and even on how easily they put on pounds, but you cannot change their metabolism per se.
As previously mentioned, your canine friend’s metabolism slows down with age – and since your dog is not getting younger, neither is their metabolism.
This is something that not a lot of pet food manufacturers want you to know. When it comes to aging, it happens to everybody, including everybody’s pets, and there’s nothing that can change that.
However, keeping your dog in good shape can positively influence their health so that when their late senior years come around, they do not suffer from as much pain or discomfort as other pets.
How does a dog’s metabolism work?
The older your pet gets, the lower the number of calories they should have every single day. But not all calories are the same, as you probably know by now. Some foods are healthier than others and can keep your dog fuller for longer even though they don’t have that many calories.
Your dog’s metabolism is another way of describing all of the chemical reactions that happen in Fido’s body when they eat something, which then gets turned into energy.
Some dogs have a rapid metabolism given by thyroid conditions, for example – but that can be possible the other way around, too. Generally, dogs that have a very fast metabolism are prone to developing malabsorption and deficiencies because their bodies do not have the opportunity to break down and process all of the nutrients from food before the remnants are eliminated.
In theory, large dog breeds have a faster metabolism compared to small dog breeds, but that’s not a universal rule.
These days, it is not as common for pet owners to take their dogs out for very, very long walks and keep them fit in that way, so both categories are prone to becoming obese. Farm dogs are perhaps the only pets that still get enough exercise, so their metabolism might not slow down as quickly as that of city dogs, for example.
What you feed your dog and the amount of exercise they are getting on a daily basis largely influence their metabolism, how healthy they are, and whether or not they become overweight or obese.
What is a metabolic diet?
In vet school, vets are taught that animals can suffer from metabolic diseases, with some of the best-known being diabetes and obesity. Although the second is reversible and some diabetic dogs may also have better chances of recovering, diabetes can make life much more difficult for a pet.
From being put on insulin that needs to be administered on a regular basis to being unable to recover from surgery with little to no complications – these are consequences that diabetes leads to.
Overweight dogs have a much higher likelihood of developing diabetes, so opting for a diet that supports your pooch’s metabolism instead of one that slows it down even more is paramount.
But metabolic diets can differ a lot from one animal to the next.
First of all, not all dogs have the same blood tests, so they may be deficient in something and have too much of something else in their bodies. As such, your vet may refer you to a veterinary nutritionist that recommends you a specific diet depending on your dog’s particular health status.
There are loads of generic metabolic diets available for sale these days, and while they might be somewhat effective in terms of getting your dog to lose weight, not all of them are great.
More importantly, they are not tailored to your dog’s needs – and while that might be acceptable for a healthy adult dog, it might not be suitable for a diabetic and overweight senior, one that maybe also has a chronic condition like arthritis or some form of renal or hepatic damage.
Improving your dog’s metabolism
These are some universal guidelines for helping your dog’s body process food in a more effective way:
- Make sure they have enough healthy fiber (like sweet potatoes and pumpkin, not rice, wheat, or corn)
- Give them pet probiotics
- Feed them two small meals per day instead of a large one
- Give them an omega-3 fatty acid supplement
- Keep your dog moving as much as possible
- Make sure your dog is getting enough protein
- Check your pet’s sleep schedule (lack of sleep can lead to an increase in appetite -> weight gain)
- Reduce food intake gradually (not significantly and not suddenly)
Keeping your canine friend in good shape can extend their life and can also prevent some conditions they may otherwise suffer from in their senior years.
A diet rich in healthy fiber and enough protein and a routine where your dog gets enough exercise daily can lead to a boost in your pet’s metabolism.