Did you know that dogs may be considered ‘geriatric’ from the tender age of 6 or 7 (depending on the breed and size)?
As in humans, reaching senior status can mean an increase in disease and discomfort, not to mention diminished energy in your once alert and active pup. The degenerative processes of aging can affect any number of a dog’s bodily systems. From musculoskeletal and gastrointestinal, to cardiac and nervous system decline, aging can certainly take its toll on an older dog.
As an evolved species—the caretakers of domesticated canines who are living longer than ever—you are in a position to help slow some the symptoms of aging, or at least help mitigate some of your dog’s discomfort. One of the ways you can do so is by supplementing your dog’s regimen with natural substances that may benefit his wellbeing.
It’s proposed (and continues to be researched) that aging doggies can benefit from dietary supplements that improve the overall function of various bodily systems. Then there are even more specific therapeutic substances tailored toward particular illnesses or symptoms (nutraceuticals).
Diet and supplements for senior dogs—Where do you begin?
You can start by providing your doggie with whole, vitamin- and mineral- rich foods every day. Ensuring that your senior pup eats natural, nutritious pet food (with the least amount of additives possible) is the first step in helping your canine companion age gracefully and contentedly.
Next, there are some safe and commonly-found substances that you can administer to your geriatric canine: (You may notice that many of these are popular with humans and provide similar health-enhancing effects)
Vitamins: B’s -- B1, B2, B6, and B12 -- can reduce fatigue and rev up a waning appetite. Giving your dog B Complex can enhance neurological function. There are many more bodily benefits of B vitamins currently under study.
Vitamin C & E can deliver positive antioxidant effects, potentially reducing inflammation while enhancing the immune system. These might also help support your older pooche’s cognitive function.
Glucosamine and chondroitin can protect cartilage and decrease symptoms of degenerative joint disease, such as arthritis.
Essential fatty acids -- Omega 3 & 6 benefits are many-fold: These have been credited in enhancing brain, immune function and also have anti-inflammatory effects.
Pre– and probiotics and digestive enzymes can relieve gastrointestinal issues in a geriatric pooch by aiding in the absorption of nutrients. Some research finds that these also help with immune system function and possibly fighting stress.
Fiber can reduce constipation. Whew.
Milk thistle is an herbal aid used for chronic liver ailments.
Coenzyme Q-10 is understood to enhance the heart muscle and its overall function.
These are just a few of the many natural elements currently used -- and under further clinical study -- within the wide arena of pet supplements. It is important to note that, before adding any supplement to your dog’s regimen, you’d be wisest to consult with a veterinarian who knows best which products are appropriate and safe.
The same goes for dosing—even though these substances are ‘natural,’ excessive amounts can be dangerous! In addition to your own research, your veterinarian can assist by pointing you toward the most reputable manufacturers of nutritional and therapeutic supplements. And no supplement should take the place of regular vet visits, which should increase in frequency once your doggie qualifies as geriatric.
PLEASE NOTE: Pups@play strongly advises that before administering any supplement/nutraceutical to your dog, you do further research and enlist the help of a professional. Pups@play does not endorse any particular substance or manufacturer.