Supporting Our Elder Animals
Cold weather can be especially challenging for our furry elders. Cats are considered elders at ten and dogs as early as seven. These recommendations will help them feel comfortable and fit this winter and always.
As our pets mature, they have special dietary requirements. Like us, most don't need as much fat in their diets, and need simpler, more easily digested foods. Sometimes, when they are older, raw-fed dogs and cats start to have difficulties with their raw food. I have found that offering meats lightly cooked and pureed vegetables or, better yet, mashed sweet potatoes, are more easily digested. Enzymes with prebiotics are an essential addition to their diets. Enzymes break the food down into smaller molecules, and the PREbiotics, feed the gut biome, which in turn, supports a healthy immune system. My favorite enzyme supplement is "Optagest," by In Clover. It's simple, pure and tasty.
Omegas, Joint Support, Anti-oxidants
Certain supplements make a big difference in supporting healthy ageing. Omega 9's and 3's are important for brain, nervous system and joint health. Fish oils are NOT my first choice for many reasons and plant omegas may be able to support dogs somewhat, but are not going to be helpful for cats. My favorite omega supplement for cats, dogs (and humans) is "Moxxor," a green lipped mussel with powerful antioxidant support as well. It's sustainably grown and humanely harvested in the pure waters of New Zealand.
I also choose to give my gang Biosuperfood blue green algae for powerful antioxidant support. This supplement was key in enabling my cat, Simon to reach age 15, with a serious autoimmune disease. I am happy to help you choose the ideal formula for your beloveds if you're not sure which one would be best.
Be sure you have extra bowls around the house if your elder is not as mobile as she used to be. Make it easy to get to the water bowls. Keep water fresh, but not cold. Cold water interferes with and slows down digestion.
Exercise and Enrichment
It's normally best to reel in intense exercise to help maintain joints and avoid injuries. Don't expect your dog to let you know that you're pushing him too hard. They often DON'T let us know, because they don't want to disappoint us or lose out on one of their favorite activities with us. Keep up the walks, but moderate them.
Healthy muscles and bones require exercise, but avoid too much climbing and "endurance" hikes or running with your older dog. Stick with more frequent short walks and play ball on even surfaces, being sure to curtail jumping in the air. Do not leave elder dogs alone outside for more than a few minuets, unless they are a Husky or Malamute who is built for and used to being outside. Still, don't assume they are as comfortable as they were when they were younger.
For cats, keep bird feeders near sunny windows, set up a climbing perch or cat bed in the window, so they don't get chilly enjoying the feeder activity. Be sure to engage them with toys; "Da Bird," and wide cotton ribbons with something tied on the end were favorites in our house. Playing chase-the-toy before a meal will stimulate their appetites as well as their minds.
If your elder shows any sign of distress, lethargy, stiffness, soreness, whining, howling, chewing on themselves, inappropriate elimination, or any other unusual behavior, make an appointment to see your holistic vet ASAP.
Remember that it's also important to ASK your animal what is happening. Animals are tuned into their bodies and will provide very important information to help you and the vet decide on the best course of action to help them feel better and age gracefully. That's why I'm here. Let's talk. Click here to schedule a session.
warmest wishes, wags and purrs to all,