Petplan pet insurance presents: 7 rules for the over 7 set – rule 2

Posted by Dr. Ernie Ward on May 08 2013

Pets don’t get old – at least they don’t know it. Yesterday, we talked about the importance of senior wellness testing. Today, we tackle nutrition.

Rule 2: Consider Food and Supplements
As dogs and cats age, both their nutritional requirements and their ability to digest certain foods can change.

If your pet is older than 7, talk to your veterinarian about switching to a diet that is specially-formulated for older pets. For cats, I prefer low- or no-grain higher protein diets. For senior dogs, highly digestible, low-fat diets will do the trick.

Because nutritional gaps and cellular damage can accelerate with age due to genetics, pollutants and illness, I highly recommend adding nutritional supplements to your dog or cat’s diet. Supplementing a healthy diet with essential vitamins and minerals can combat age changes and help our pets maintain optimal immune response. Here are a few favorites I suggest you start adding to the shopping list.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids (fish oils)
healthy fats have been shown to do everything from keeping coats shiny to combating cancer. Most pet food and treats are heavy on omega-6s, which can contribute to inflammation when ingested at higher levels. I recommend adding omega-3 firepower for dogs and cats to help balance their diets. Ask your vet which form of omega-3s would be best for your pet, and for help calculating dosage.

Glucosamine/Chondroitin Sulfate
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate are naturally found in connective tissues in the human body, and adding a glucosamine supplement such as Cosequin® to your pet’s diet can help relieve symptoms of arthritis in the hips, knees and joints. While these supplements won’t actually stop the progression of the disease, or reverse its effects, they can help the body's production of joint lubricants and provide some of the shock absorption necessary to keep your pet more comfortable

A Good Multi-Vitamin
Look for B vitamins and vitamins A, D, E, and K, as well as biotin and beta-carotene.

We know that the bacteria contained in yogurt are important not only in digestion, but also in promoting the immune system, fighting infections and even preventing cancer. Whether you spoon some plain yogurt over your pet’s dinner, or dose him with a paste or powder, these “friendly bacteria” can do wonders for a pet’s health.

Ask your vet which supplements might benefit your silver senior, and how you can add some into their diet using whole foods like fruits and veggies, as well as which your doc recommends in pill form. Food is fuel for our pets, and the old saying, “You are what you eat,” becomes more and more true as we age!

What special foods or supplements do you feed your senior pets? Tell us in the comments.