Just as humans have different nutritional needs once we begin to age, so do our canine friends. Their metabolism slows, they become more prone to weight gain, and their risk of developing a number of health conditions increases. Even if you never thought a lot about the food you gave your dog during the previous years of his life; you need to take stock of everything that goes into his mouth now that he is old. When you take a look at the nutrition your senior dog is getting, you can start to learn about some supplements for your old dog and conditions they are used for.
There has never been more knowledge about dogs and the way they age than there is today. It turns out that some of the changes that dogs go through are very similar to those we humans experience. There are also differences among different breeds and individual dogs.
Supplements Vs Nutrients from Food
One of the most important things you can do for your old dog is to get his weight down and keep it there. Carrying additional pounds will reduce his quality of life and shorten the time that he has. If you don’t address any weight issues, supplements aren’t going to help keep him healthy. Talk with your vet about your dog’s weight and how to balance reduced calories with nutrition.
If you have ever attempted to get all of the daily recommended vitamins and minerals from the food you eat, you know the challenge in keeping the calorie count down. A good place to start is with a good quality dog food that is formulated with a dog’s special needs in mind. These dog foods have ingredients that reduce the calorie count while providing more nutrition. But when it comes to providing the optimal amount of some of the most vital nutrients, you may have to get supplements that don’t add calories at all.
Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfate – The popular supplement that helps people with joint problems is a good one for pets as well. Old dogs are prone to joint problems that can cause them to become less active. If your pet seems content to lie around and doesn’t seem interested in his favorite activities, he could be feeling the pain of arthritis. Dogs in some breeds are especially prone to joint disease.
Don’t give your dog supplements that are made for humans. This is one type of human supplement that is formulated differently. Only give your dog supplements that were made especially for him. Talk to your vet about which ones will help with your dog’s specific condition and will repair cartilage that has already been damaged.
Antioxidants – Antioxidants can be found in a variety of vitamins including A, B6, C, and E. These nutrients attack free radicals that cause damage at the cellular level. A number of studies have shown that supplementing antioxidants in old dogs reduces the loss of mean muscle mass, helps to maintain a healthy weight, improves skin condition, and results in a lower incidence of disease. Adding antioxidant supplements to your old dog’s diet will improve his quality of life and increase his life span.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) – Many people are more familiar with the terms “Omega 3” and “Omega 6” than they are essential fatty acids. These are the healthy fats that human and canine bodies need. Since your dog’s body doesn’t make them, they have to be given in food or supplement form.
EFAs are vital supplements for your old dog. They not only help keep his coat and skin healthy, but they also boost immunity, reduce inflammation, and improve brain function. These are all areas of concern for senior dogs.
L-Carnitine – This amino acid is used as a dietary supplement and in treating dogs with heart conditions resulting from chemotherapy treatments. As a supplement, it aids in the metabolism of fatty acids, increasing the energy in cells. It helps maintain lean mass and reduces body fat to aid in weight maintenance. L-Carnitine is used in some pet foods formulated for senior dogs to help reduce body weight.
Probiotics – Many dogs begin to have digestive issues as they age. Probiotics are somewhat the opposite of antibiotics. While the latter is taken to kill bad bacteria in the body, probiotics help to restore the good bacteria needed for healthy digestion. A regular supplement will help your old dog break down food and make better use of the nutrition he gets in his diet.
Using these essential supplements for your old dog can improve quality of life, prevent or treat illness, and help the both of you enjoy more time together. For senior dogs that have health conditions, the vet may recommend adding additional supplements to his diet. Supplements are an easy way to give your senior dog the extra nutrition he needs without giving him the calories he doesn’t. Just make sure he gets them from senior dog food or from supplements made specifically for dogs to get the best benefit and to stay safe.