Senior Pet Month

Supporting Senior Pets

As with senior people, senior pets have well documented physical changes that we can anticipate and prepare for. Although we live with our pets, their accelerated life span often takes us by surprise. It’s easy to overlook changes associated with aging and assume that the behavior change results from a pet’s lack of interest or change in mood. Your pet may lose interest in activities or have mood changes, but often these result from physical impairments that cause pain or discomfort. Healthy pets can retain kittenish or puppy-like traits well into their senior years if they are feeling well. Here are the top seven things you can do to support healthy aging in your pet:

Keep Them Moving: If your once playful cat or fetch-fiend dog loses interest in play activities, consider their joints, and don’t assume that they have simply lost interest in their regular play routines. We hear many stories from pet parents whose pets regain interest in playtime once joint pain is addressed through the right supplements to support joint health. Joint support can begin before any age-related deterioration is detectable. Supplements can help your pet’s body keep joints supplied with the right joint building nutrients, which can slow joint deterioration considerably. Pets with more severe joint issues benefit from antioxidants, and anti-inflammatory remedies for discomfort. We’ll have more to say about this in our article newsletter at the end of this month.

Keep Them Comfortable: A dog or cat that slept anywhere comfortably when a youngster may suffer on the floor or be less comfortable in their usual sleeping and resting spots. Many contemporary beds are both eco-friendly and non-toxic, and though they can’t tell you directly, your aging pet will be very grateful for a comfy bed, blanket, or sleeping mat to provide extra skeletal support and warmth. Also, consider elevated feeding bowls, a walking support harness, and even a pet ramp to provide your aging pet with access to car, bed, furniture, etc., to let them comfortably go wherever they are used to going.

Keep Them Engaged: If your pet seems to be less connected to goings-on in your home, find ways to keep them engaged in activities that they enjoy. If they don’t have the strength, flexibility or stamina for games they enjoyed when younger, modify the game to make it easier for your pet. Pets that are stimulated with toys, games, and experiences stay “tuned in” to their daily life much more than pets that are allowed to slowly disengage. If your pet experiences hearing and/or vision loss due to age, don’t stop trying to connect with them. Clever pet parents can work around these age-related deficits and keep senior pets vitally connected to daily life – prolonging the joyful time they have with their beloved companions.

Address Digestive & Metabolic Issues: It’s a fact – our pets’ digestion and metabolism usually deteriorate with age. Diminished digestive strength may show up as vomiting or changes in stool consistency. Decrease in pancreatic functioning is a common problem, as the pancreas has a limited supply of enzymes to help your pet break down and process food. As most cooked (dry and canned) pet food has nearly zero percent enzymes present, it’s helpful to supplement your pet’s food with digestive enzymes to help them break down food properly and absorb the nutrients it contains. Digestive supplements can also help. Changes in diet may be needed, but stick with holistic foods if you can (see the information below on the benefits of natural foods for seniors).

Support the Immune System: Pets’ immune function deteriorates with age, which manifests in many ways. Your aging pet may be more susceptible to bacterial and viral infections, demonstrating poor immune response to pathogens. It’s also common for aging pets to have abnormal cellular functioning, which may result in benign or cancerous cell growth, and increased cellular break down due to free radical damage. We offer a wide array of immune support products to help your pet with strengthened response to infections, increased cellular health support, and antioxidant support to reduce free radical damage.

Watch for Behavior Changes: So many senior pet health issues are caught early and corrected by vigilant pet parents. Watch your pet closely, and note on a calendar any changes in behavior that deviate from the norm. Our companion animals are very much “creatures of habit,” and even slight variations from their normal behavior can indicate health issues. Changes in movement behavior may indicate joint problems, circulatory, ear or eye issues; changes in elimination patterns often indicate kidney, blood sugar, digestive, hormonal or metabolic issues. Paying close attention to your pet’s patterns, and noting variation from normal activity can help you and your veterinarian determine whether organ systems may be compromised and help you address or accommodate changes.

Take Action: Many normal age-related health concerns can be improved, slowed, or even reversed through the use of natural remedies and supplements. We always suggest that you consult with your (holistic) veterinarian to diagnose your pet’s health concerns and plan treatment. Check with your vet if your pet has a diagnosed health issue to see whether natural remedies and supplements may be beneficial to your pet’s heath regimen. Click here to see some of our natural supplements for senior pets.

For more information on supporting your aging pet, please see our articles on aging pets in our Holistic Healthcare Library, and in particular the article, “Supporting Your Aging Companion.”

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