Looking after your older pet
Posted 27 April 2016 12:00 AM by Richard Allport
Naturally we all want our pets to live as long and stay as healthy as possible. So what can we do to ensure this happens and that the problems of old age are minimised?
Firstly look out for signs of ageing
These signs include:
• Slowing down and sleeping more
• Becoming more fussy over food, or having difficulty in eating food
• Not hearing or seeing as well as usual, a bluish haze might be visible in the eyes
• Changes in behaviour such as becoming more withdrawn, or more clingy
• Increased moulting and hair loss leading to thinning coat
• Significant weight loss, or increase in weight
If you anything that seems different, make sure you take your pet for a check-up.
Steps to keep your pet well and fit
As well as any advice or treatment from your vet, here are some practical steps you can take:
• Keep the weight down and encourage exercise. This should be gentle but regular – encourage old cats to play each day, and make sure older dogs still get their daily walks.
• Feed a healthy diet. Avoid too much rich or fatty food and give as much fresh food as possible. Try feeding two or three small meals a day rather than one large one.
• Add natural supplements. As pets age, they don’t always absorb all the nutrients from their food efficiently. The liver and kidneys can become less able to metabolise nutrients and the need for some vitamins and minerals may increase to help repair tissues that are ageing.
What are the most important supplements for older pets?
As one of the most common problems of age is stiff ness and arthritis of joints, it makes sense to give older pets a supplement to help joints stay flexible, especially one that contains what are known as ‘chondroprotective’ agents.These are natural substances that help keep the cartilage in the joint and the joint fluid in good health. The two most effective chondroprotective agents are Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
Omega fish oils are also helpful for the joints, as well as skin and coat condition. A supplement that contains the 3, 6 and 9 omega oils will be particularly beneficial. Omega oils help reduce flaking and itching, excessive moulting, and also help promote a healthy heart and brain.
Finally, a good multivitamin and mineral supplement will help older dogs stay fitter for longer. Look for a supplement that contains energising B vitamins, Zinc and Biotin.
We can’t prevent our pets from getting older – but we can help them stay happier and healthier in their old age!