I don’t know who left the freezer door open, but it is getting chilly in Cape Town!
We all know that winter brings around a host of issues – for both people and their pets. We also know that senior pets really do struggle this time of year and that, as pet owners, it makes us wonder if there is anything we could possibly do to make them as comfortable as possible.
(My lovely Domino. She passed away in 2019, and achieved a great age of 15 years old.)
Some of the biggest reported difficulties noted by owners over the years is that their pet is slow to rise and stiff, that they sleep much more or have decreased appetite or zest for food.
Much like us as senior adults, our bodies do slow down and need rest, but much unlike humans there is not always a huge variety of supplements or boosters to help our Golden Oldies. What we have done, is sit down and compile a list of our favourite natural, healing, and beneficial products that we believe will make a huge difference over time to your furry friend.
Let's tackle this short, but effective list!
Four of our favourite herbs and spices for seniors;
- Good old Turmeric
Ground powder. Turmeric contains Curcumin which, for dogs, is known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, wound healing, and anticancer activities. We love making a Golden Paste with Turmeric and giving that to both our older furkids, but to our younger ones too for added benefits.
Yep, you read that. Rhodiola is a great human and animal supplement. It is known to aid in helping your fatigued and forgetful senior dog, be less fatigued and forgetful. It also aids with maintaining muscle mass so that they lose less muscle (muscle atrophy) than they would unsupported. Obviously, this goes hand-in-paw with the correct diet first.
This isn’t just for your pasta or chicken or whatever you use it on! Oregano is antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory – so when fed in moderation to your pet, does just that! It can be given daily too, for added boost.
Oh, lovely Rosemary. How we adore you! This lovely little herb is not only a natural, mild form of flea repellent when used topically, but it is also known for aiding with digestive issues due to its antimicrobial properties. As a bonus, it has been given as an added boost for cancer patients and pets with heart disease.
Three of our favourite supplement adds;
- Dairy kefir
This is a favourite in our house. We always have on hand! Kefir is a fermented and concentrated form of gut support. Although it is made from cow’s milk, it remains low in lactose. Kefir is a brilliant source of gut-boosting and supportive probiotics, vitamins and minerals.
- High quality fish oil
A good, clean source of fish oil is one of the best adds to your pet’s food. It is packed with healthy omega’s, DHA and EPA, and is a source for healthy fats. These are all known to support skin and coat, joint, heart and overall health in your pets. Senior pets would benefit from this daily.
- Veggies and fruits
Fruit and vegetables contain all important phytonutrients. These are chemical compounds in the plants that aid in overall health for humans and animals. There is a reason we all say "a little fresh is better and goes a long way!"
Phytonutrients are higher and more present in red. orange and dark green vegetables and fruits. Consider adding some kale, oranges, carrots, tomatoes and broccoli to your dog's next meal - especially if you are feeding a dry food diet.
But before you add - dog's lack amylase sufficient enough to have raw fruit and vegetables - so best to slightly process it first. Chop or dice it. Steam or blanch it. Just make sure that if you partially cook it, that you refrain from using cooking oils and processed spices and salts.
Some other great advice is to make sure that your pet moves – a short walk a few times a week will truly benefit both the blood flow and overall mobility of your achy pet. Much like humans with arthritis, it is encouraged to remain active.
Now you don’t need to go run a marathon every other day, but a short and steady walk is encouraged regularly, at a pace that you feel comfortable with. This applies to your dog as well.
Another tip is to make sure that your pet has a supportive bed to sleep on at night – one raised off the cold floor.
This isn’t just for joint support but sleeping on a hard based-surface with an unsupportive bed flat on the floor, does not bode well for general comfort and mobility. Opt for a raised bed and a great pet bed that is specifically for your senior pet. A raised bed also allows your pooch to do more of a “step-off” movement instead of the normal “push up off the floor” movement – and this will benefit your pet for those extra achy days.
Lastly, make sure that you are feeding the very best senior food and diet that you can afford. Be mindful that senior pets generally have much different metabolic needs, and that their body and organs need different support to much younger pets. If you are feeding a dry kibble diet, make sure you are offering an enrichment option through fresh foods and supplements. If you are feeding a complete and balanced raw food diet, make sure that your pet is eating the correct ratio to ensure they meet their metabolic needs.
And don’t forget to start and end your day with a smooch and cuddle with them – they are truly earth angels!
As always, the contents in this post and blog are not meant to diagnose, treat or overrule any advice given from your veterinarian. If your pet is struggling with health related problems. please consult your veterinarian or holistic veterinarian.