Just like us, our dogs start suffering the same common ailments as they age. Symptoms that we can easily relate to, such as weight gain, mild forms of arthritis, greying and of course lacking energy are experienced by an ageing dog too. As pet parents, it’s our responsibility to recognise this in our dogs.
If you have an ageing dog, there’s plenty of ways that you can support them by treating their symptoms in a natural way and potentially slowing the ageing process. A natural diet is the best foundation, with a raw food diet free of any additives to reduce the strain on your dog’s system. A raw, unprocessed diet will be the most beneficial for your dog (of any age) but especially as they enter their senior years, where we’re trying to reduce the stress and inflammation in their body.
To take this a step further, the ideal diet for a senior pooch will include foods that are known to slow the ageing process and reduce inflammation. It’s also important to keep senior dogs at a healthy weight too. Most ageing pets will start to put a little weight on and whilst they are just so damn cute and cuddly, just like us, it’s not recommended that they carry too much extra weight. Extra weight obviously has its own detrimental health effects, but it can also cause extra pressure on their joints, and again this is where arthritis starts to rear its ugly head. Unfortunately there is a pattern, weight gain leads to inflammation, which leads to arthritis.
Omega 3s – Salmon and Green Lipped Mussels
A diet rich in naturally occurring Omegas will be highly beneficial for your senior pet. Some excellent sources are fresh, raw Tasmanian salmon and a New Zealand species of mussels called Green Lipped Mussels. This type of omega 3 oil is also very unique (contains EPA and DHA essential fatty acids), as it also has the capacity to pass through the blood – brain barrier, and essentially this means, nourish our brains as well. Not only this, this oil is excellent for cardio vascular health, assisting with weight control and of course essential for healthy skin and coats for our pets. Omega 3’s also find themselves placed in every cell in the body, thus ensuring cellular health. Happy cells mean less inflammation and slower ageing.
Cold pressed, virgin coconut oil is known as a medium chain EFA, so it has a different chemical structure to a short or long chain EFA. While it’s not essential to know the chemical structure, it is important to know that this oil is virgin and cold-pressed – meaning that the oil hasn’t been exposed to nutrient destroying temperatures, and has also not been refined. A refined oil will have the trace minerals removed, so look for virgin oils because the more natural trace minerals in a natural form, the better for absorption and utilisation for our pet (and us).
Coconut oil has been shown to have many health benefits for our pets, some of which includes – weight control, anti-inflammatory properties, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, it assists with control of skin issues (including yeast infections) and also contributes to a shiny luxurious coat.
Another potent anti-inflammatory ingredient that is beneficial to pets is Turmeric. Most people have now heard about the benefits of this wonder herb, with lots of studies showing the benefits of the active compound in it; Curcumin. This compound is what gives turmeric its wonderful bright yellow colour but it is also responsible for the potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric is also known for its anti-cancer, anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties, and more research has also shown it has a form of Omega 3’s, that again, can pass through the blood-brain barrier.
Whey Protein is a highly digestible, low allergy whey protein food from goat milk. Goat's milk is loaded with probiotics that help to support digestion by increasing the population of healthy bacteria in your dog's digestive tract. Supporting your dog's digestion helps to improve nutrient absorption and aids in filtering out toxins. It’s also rich in colostrum and immunoglobulins which benefit the immune system.
Raw Milk Kefir
Kefir is a fermented product made from raw milk and kefir grains. Kefir grains are not typical grains, such as wheat or rice, and do not contain gluten. They are a combination of bacteria and yeast which provide the kick starter to ferment the milk.
It is a rich source of calcium, protein and B vitamins. Kefir may contain up to 61 different microorganisms, making it a much more potent source of probiotics than many other fermented dairy products, to support digestive health and the immune system.
Cold Pressed Flaxseed Meal
Another well-known ingredient which naturally retains omega 3 oils is cold pressed flaxseed meal. Always look for cold pressed oils because the natural nutrients are not destroyed by heat, but rather the process is under low temperature conditions. Flaxseed meal also supplies natural essential minerals and is an excellent ingredient that supplies a natural fibre. Good quality fibre plays an important role for our ageing companion.
Raw Ingredients and Phytonutrients
A diet with a good level of plant matter provides a broad range of antioxidants, digestible vitamins and minerals, enzymes, fibre and , last but not least, moisture.
Plant matter is abundant in phytonutrients, which are responsible for cellular health, removing toxins from our bodies, have shown anti-cancer properties, have a wonderful antioxidant range of benefits, and also are able to be retained in our bodies longer than standard vitamin and minerals, this allows them to hang around longer to go about their important detoxifying roles.
Old Friends are the Best Friends
If your pet is in, or approaching, their senior years of their life and you find that they are carrying some excessive weight, or noticing some ageing symptoms, it could be time to consider a diet that is developed specifically for this stage of their life. If you do, hopefully your ageing companion will soon become that playful, active younger version of themselves pretty quickly again, with a diet that supports their health needs.
To read about Big Dog’s diets for senior dogs, visit our guide on Caring for your senior dog.
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