Caring for Your Senior Pet’s Health Naturally
We are all getting older, including our pets. And just like humans, dogs and cats are prone to a number of medical problems as they get older. With diet, supplements, and extra care, many conditions can be prevented, delayed, or managed, for the best possible quality of life for your pet throughout the senior years. Here are a few of the health issues you may run into as your pet ages, and some things you can do treat them naturally:
Many older pets eventually develop arthritis. You might see your pet “slowing down,” or “a little stiff,” and some even have sleep disturbances because they just can’t get comfortable. This may be a sign of joint disease. If your pet has extra weight, it can make arthritis worse, so a good weight loss program is needed. A high protein diet helps protect lean muscle mass while shedding fat. Proper weight and moderate exercise are the keys to comfort.
There are joint protectors and anti-inflammatories that can help, and they include glucosamine, chondroitin sulfate, and MSM (methyl-sulfonyl-methane); all of which can be added to wet food. Other herbs and minerals may also be helpful. Antioxidants provide good anti-inflammatory action and pain relief. It may take 3-5 weeks for improvement to be noticeable.
Slower Digestive System
As pets get older they experience a decreased ability to digest and metabolize protein and fat that occurs with age. Older pets need better quality protein. Wet foods are ideal for older cats and dogs such as food in cans or pouches, as well as frozen raw diets. These foods are easier to digest, and much more palatable. By adding digestive enzymes and probiotics will help your pet get the most nutrition from food.
Our pet’s kidneys have a lot of responsibility, and they work hard 24/7. Over time, the cells die and get replaced by scar tissue. When 75% of kidney function is irreversibly lost, signs of kidney disease occur.
You may hear from friends and even from vets that protein is bad for the kidneys. But dietary protein has nothing to do with the development of kidney disease in dogs or cats. In fact, it is recommended that older pets without pre-existing kidney disease, should eat canned food or other high protein, high moisture diets.
Antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil or cod liver oil) are proven to be highly beneficial for pets with kidney disease. There is new evidence that probiotics can also be helpful. There are also specific kidney support products available.
Dental Disease is one of the most common problems that vets see in dogs and cats. It often begins by the tender age of 3 – and just gets worse from there! Many dogs and cats are quiet or stoic about pain, and problems such as abscessed teeth or oral tumors can be missed. It is recommended to take your older pet in for a thorough checkup twice a year instead of just once. Try to brush your pet’s teeth at home, or use one of the products that help minimize plaque.
Half of dogs over age 10 will develop cancer, the most frightening disease of all. At its most basic, cancer is the result of immune system failure which is the result of poor diet, over-vaccination, genetics, and environmental factors. Keeping your pet’s immune system in peak condition is fundamental to good health overall, but given the role it may play in so many degenerative diseases, including cancer, is just good sense. Besides exercise, fresh air, and great nutrition, there are supplements especially designed for immune support.
Our pets are getting older, but with diet, supplements, and extra care, many conditions can be prevented, delayed, or managed, for the best possible quality of life for your pet.