It’s inevitable that our four pawed family members age, and they age at a faster rate than we do. Your seven year old Labrador is said to be equivalent to a 50 year old human. My geriatric cat just turned 19 and he fits the age of a 92 year old human! Just like us, as we age our joints get stiffer, our digestion slows and our nutritional needs change. However, the things that never change are maintaining a healthy diet, getting adequate exercise and keeping toxin exposure to a minimum (or not at all).
Dogs and cats are living longer lives these days mostly due to better medical care. Owners are becoming increasingly aware of what they feed their pets and how it affects their overall health and well-being. Nutrition is the foundation of health, and good nutrition for your senior pet will warrant great results while poor nutrition yields health issues and perhaps a shortened lifespan.
Many pet food manufacturers market “Senior Formula” foods on the basis of reduced fat, increased fiber and possibly reduced protein. This idea is based on the notion that obesity is common in elderly pets. Manufacturers also don’t give much thought to the fact that digestive tract function changes as the pet ages and their need for high quality protein, fat and carbohydrates must be easily digested and absorbed. Geriatric pets should be fed proteins that are high biological value and that are very easily digested. Reduction of fat intake is not necessary unless they are obese and on a weight loss plan. Supplementation with essential fatty acids like omega-3’s is important. Carbohydrates should be easily digestible, with rice being the most completely digested one. Offering high antioxidant fruits and vegetables like raspberries, blueberries and dark leafy greens like broccoli and kale are also good choices.
If you have a senior or geriatric pet (small dog at 11 years, medium dog at 10 years, large dog at 8 years and giant breed at 7 years and cats over 11 years), be sure you are feeding them a biologically appropriate diet that does not contain corn, wheat, by-products or synthetic preservatives. Cats should always be fed a high-moisture diet to support their kidney and urinary tract health. You can supplement their diet with products to benefit their overall health and well-being like CBD that has been proposed to support joint, heart and brain health or green lipped mussels (available in treat form or supplement) which can combat joint inflammation and pain as well as omega-3 fatty acids to support skin, coat and decrease inflammation.
By providing your senior pet with good veterinary care, biologically appropriate food and keeping them active you will help your pet enjoy their golden years happily and healthily!