It’s inevitable – our dogs and cats are going to grow older, and just like us, they will all age differently.
There are people in their late 90s, even 100 or 101 that are fit, active and full of vitality and good health. They may not be able to do everything that they once did, but they are amazing for their age. And so it is with our older animals. Some may appear to be just as active and alert as they were when they were younger with very few signs of aging and others may display the more obvious signs. You may see older animals with achy joints and muscles, the immune system may not be as strong as it once was at warding off infections or allergies, the digestive system may not function as well and your animal may become finicky, they may not see as well, they may not hear you come home from work, they may be a little slower at getting up and on their walk, they may sleep a little more or their anxiety levels may become more heightened.
Aging is natural and all part of the magnificent journey we share with our animals and just because they are getting older it does not mean they still can’t experience a wonderful quality of life and enjoy their life right to the end. Our animals can be our greatest teachers, our greatest inspiration and provide us with such unconditional love and we as their guardians can do our best to ensure they live their best life possible.
Here is just a little information that may benefit your older dog or cat:
Diet is important in all stages of life – and this is especially true for your senior animal.
The food we feed is fuel for our animal.
Processed food such as kibble is high in carbohydrate and cooked at very high temperatures – a diet high in carbohydrates can lead to inflammation and disease and when you heat protein and starch to high temperatures you not only get carcinogenic by-products but the way proteins work in the body is then changed, causing damage to the mitochondria (enzymatic powerhouses of cells), inflammation, cancers and disease.
Dogs and cats need fat and protein to survive – but they need Good Quality Fat and Good Quality Protein to thrive. Feeding a high-quality raw food such as The Complete Meal and bones goes a long way to addressing the needs of your aging animal, providing the body with the nutrients and vitality it needs to function optimally. No matter what their age, it is never too late to change your animal’s diet to The Complete Meal and bones.
Slow and steady wins the race!
Your senior animal still needs to exercise their body (and their mind). Walks may be a little shorter and a little slower but are still important. When out on a walk with your dog, allow them the freedom to walk on a comfortable harness and a long lead and meander and explore at their own pace. A long lead also allows them to use their gait correctly so as not to hinder their movement and create or aggravate joint issues.
Sniffing and scent work is also a fantastic way to enrich your older dog or cat’s life, enhancing their mental state. Not only does it decrease cortisol levels and thereby stress levels, but it is so much kinder on older joints. Sniffing and scent work is calming, it’s relaxing, it’s immune boosting, it’s easy to do and it so beneficial for their health and well-being. And they love it!
A Comfortable and Supportive Bed
Relaxation and deep restful sleep are key to good health.
A comfortable and supportive bed is one that does not sag down to the ground when your animal lays on it, but provides support for their whole body, including their joints, hips, and spine. It allows them to stretch right out and lay flat and is easy for them to get in and out of. Ideally your animal has several beds to choose from and a quiet area allowing them restful sleep. Good, restorative sleep is essential to good health and well-being.
An immune boost or support for elderly joints and bodies, natural supplements may be of benefit for your older friend. It is just a fact of life that as we age our immune system, our joints and our bodies don’t function as well as they did when we were younger. But that does not mean quality of life has to suffer. Natural supplements contain a wide array of vitamins, minerals and nutrients that can help boost the immune system and provide relief from inflammation, arthritis, joint problems, and digestive issues.
Some of our favourite products that we have found beneficial include:
Medicinal Mushrooms – Medicinal mushrooms have been used for thousands of years and can help bring the body back into balance and strengthen immunity and overall well-being. Some of the many health benefits include: Support for brain health and cognition, support for the nervous system, they are anti-inflammatory, they may help boost energy levels and provide immune support.
Turmeric – Turmeric has wonderful antioxidant properties. It is considered a natural anti-inflammatory that may aid in the relief of stiff joints and muscles. It may also aid digestion and promote general wellbeing.
Bone Broth – Bone broth is a nutrient packed superfood with many benefits. It may help the liver detox, promote a healthy gut, aid in joint and bone health, help relieve inflammation, boost nutrition, and bolster the immune system.
Canine Super Supplement (can be used for cats also) – A synergistic combination of deer velvet, green lipped mussel and ginseng, this supplement contains an array of vitamins and minerals, omega 3 and 6, glucosamine, chondroitin, amino acids, EPA and DHA. Among its many benefits: support for joints and cartilage, relief from arthritis symptoms, promotes cell repair, supports healthy cardiovascular function and it also promotes a healthy and shiny coat.
Canine Immune Supplement (can be used for cats also) – A synergistic combination of green lipped muscle, deer velvet, colostrum, red algae, and thymus extract. Developed to support immune function and dermatological conditions, it has a wide range of health benefits, including supporting general wellness, boosting vitality, and aiding in arthritis support and healthy joint function.
And not forgetting homeopathic products such as Zeel for arthritis support.
Non-Slip Solutions for Hard Floors
Dogs can start to lose their balance with age and slipping and sliding on a hard floor may not only induce anxiety, but it also places pressure on older joints and may actually be quite painful. As an easy solution for this problem, you can purchase non-slip mats and cover hard floors where your animals walk. This can be especially important for large breed dogs.
It is also important to keep underneath the pads of long-haired dogs trimmed as excess hair can cause them to slip and slide on hard surfaces.
As our pets age, sometimes they need a helping hand! Therapies such as massage or acupuncture may help strengthen the immune system and help increase blood flow thereby promoting healing. They may also aid in pain relief for achy joints and muscles and they are beneficial for promoting relaxation and a general sense of well-being.
As our animals age they can feel more vulnerable and as their cognition changes and their body begins to experience some aches and pains this places “stress” on the body. This does not mean your animal is “stressed out” like we humans tend to get, (although this can indeed be the case for some dogs). “Stress” is simply something to be mindful of and managed. If they are displaying new anxiety or behavioural changes it may be a symptom of older age. Being fed a wholefood diet, getting the right kind of exercise, rest and support will help them navigate their older age with ease and grace.
Hopefully, this article serves as a guide to help you help your animal. Our animals are here with us for such a short time. Enjoy every moment and cherish your time with them. Your animal’s senior years are truly special!