Blog post by Helen McNall, founder of Wellbeing for Dogs
Like many dog lovers I have such a soft spot in my heart for old dogs, there is a softness to them, a knowing that I find so restful, gentle. It is not all roses for them however, sadly dogs are considered ‘Senior’ at an alarmingly early age. It’s Seniors Month at Vet Clinics and while it is always good to have health and wellness check-ups the damage usually starts way before.
Old age in dogs is often marked with pain, disease and suffering, it’s heartbreaking. Did you know that Cancer is the leading cause of death for dogs now? While old age is an inevitable consequence of life, suffering is not. A gram of prevention is worth kilos of treatment and it is never too late to improve the way your dog is nourished – food really is medicine.
The very principle behind Wellbeing Essentials is a commitment to long-term health – we want them to age well, to live a long life with health and vitality. It isn’t always easy for you to keep making a decision, day after day to add something to your dog’s dinner bowl that will have the benefit in years ahead, but that is the promise, and you are the keeper.
There are many ways we can make the older dog’s life a little better, more comfortable and these are just a few;
It’s a myth that older dogs need less protein
In reality, they need more protein. Protein is key to body and muscle repair and as we age we need relatively more protein to body weight to maintain muscle mass.
The exception is dogs with kidney damage, usually as a result of a lifetime of eating kibble. If you feed kibble, please hydrate it -1 cup kibble needs 2 cups of water/liquid to bring it to food level and help their kidneys filter.
Like their humans dogs too can suffer Dementia, disorientation, forgetfulness. Wellbeing Essentials has had some good results with dogs with Dementia so worthwhile trying. Good quality fats may help including flaxseed oil or quality fish oil. Include Sardines or Spanish mackerel for their Omega 3 – better than farmed salmon or canned tuna. Antioxidants such as berries are powerful scavengers, try adding a handful with some yogurt and oats for breakfast (and have some yourself 😊)
Less activity means less calories used so there is a real need to cut back and especially the high calorific/energy dense kibble. While fats are good for the joints and brain, they also pack a punch with putting on the pounds so, all things in moderation.
Try adding mashed pumpkin for a low-calorie way of feeling full and keeping bowels moving well. An added bonus of being a good source of Beta Carotene for vision, cell health, and the immune system.
Warm their food – sounds obvious but it releases the smell and increases the pleasure too. Raise the bowl off the floor so they don’t have to strain to eat and help gravity work in their favour. A simple footstool with a non-slip mat is all you need. I recommend this for dogs of all ages.
As they age they can be less steady on their legs, have some lameness or they may just struggle to get up. Please put down runners and rugs for your dog. Help their pads and paws get traction. Try laying yoga mats out where they need grip to get up or are slipping/sliding on floors.
These are just some of the issues of the older dog, there is so much more we can do to help. If you have some ideas or experiences please share them with me, I’d really welcome more.
Wellbeing Essentials is available at InnerOrigin.