When treating an illness, the first step should be dietary therapy. Only when this is unsuccessful should one try drugs. — Sun Si Miao
Food therapy, a cornerstone of my holistic practice, is used to treat specific health conditions, and to prevent disease. With my senior patients, the goals of treatment are to improve quality of life, slow progression of disease, and help the body breakdown, digest and utilize as many vital nutrients as possible. Homemade diets are the foundation of food therapy.
For older animals, feed moderate amounts of food often–that is 2 or 3 times daily for most dogs and maybe more for cats. Feed easily digested food. This may not be the time to start a raw diet as raw diets are more difficult to digest; however, many seniors (like my own 13 year-old sheltie I rescued at age 11) take to it very well. If raw is not tolerated well, food should be lightly cooked, seared or warmed, finely chopped, rich in nutrients, and non-processed (step away from the cans and kibble!). Soups and stews with added whole food supplements, digestive enzymes and probiotics work well for these guys.
Feed ANTI-INFLAMMATORY foods and supplements. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as raw peppers, dairy, gluten, peanuts, and of course, all processed dry and canned foods. FRESH VEGETABLES clean out the gut and act like a broom, cleaning out toxins. If not pureed, they need to be cooked to tender crisp (don’t overcook!) or your old pet will not absorb the nutrients.
I am not a fan of low protein diets for most senior dogs and cats as these carnivores need to maintain their lean body muscle mass and that is made of protein. I am in favor of HIGH QUALITY, HIGH BIOLOGICAL VALUE PROTEINS. Lower the amount of meats in the diet and increase the higher biological value proteins–these include cold water fish, eggs, quinoa, and free range chicken.
Increase VITAMIN C foods such as strawberries and cranberries. These help with collagen generation – a tissue vital to the soft tissue of the body – and also help turn on the body’s own anti-inflammatory mechanisms. Combined with VITAMIN E, the two slow down the oxidative damage of tissue associated with aging. Add supplements of OMEGA 3 fatty acids and supplements to alleviate arthritis pain such as dandelion, turmeric, Boswellia, glucosamine, MSM.
Discover the magic of CHLORELLA, a single-celled freshwater algae that packs vitamins, minerals, amino acids, nucleic acids, and chlorophyll, one of nature’s most effective cleansers and detoxifiers. It offers great benefits for aging dogs and cats. When used regularly, it markedly slows down the aging process, maintains youthful energy longer, helps normalize the blood picture, improves liver and kidney function, wound healing, and offers detoxifying effects. It improves the hemoglobin count for improved ability of the blood to deliver oxygen throughout the body and improve immune cell activity. Additionally, chlorella benefits skin conditions.
HERBAL / FLOWER ESSENCE pick-me-up blends have helped many of my geriatric patients and can promote health, appetite, energy, and mental wellbeing. Finally, try to EXERCISE and GROOM them more often. The stimulation keeps the mind and body limber and lymphatic system moving like it should.
Age-related changes are inevitable, but a lifetime of good nutrition, exercise, and proper care can make the difference between living an average lifespan or a maximum age!