Holistic Approach To Pet Food

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Nutritional Tips For A Senior Canine Diet

Oct 09, 2013

Posted By: Christine N.; Photo by Ann on flickr

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We all feel the progression of time.  We used to be spry, fun-loving, energetic -- much like the fellow above.  However, as we age we become somewhat... sluggish.

Let's be honest -- we let ourselves GO!

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But we do not have to let our dogs suffer this same fate.  With just a few adjustments to his/her diet, you can change your dog's temperament, energy levels, and overall health.  Some forget that a senior dog's diet is the single most important factor that impacts health and longevity.  The wonderful part is, you have the ability to control it!  

Weight control is going to be the fundamental element to your canine's well-being.  Many reasons can lead to an overweight dog.  Other than underlying conditions, such as hypothyroidism (which should be diagnosed by your veterinarian), an improper diet and lack of exercise are the main causes.  

We all love our canine companions to death and as our time together increases, so does our love.  You can't help but give in to those entrancing eyes.  

Before you can even process all of your feelings, the treat that was once in your hand is now inside of your dog's mouth.  Now, don't get me wrong.  I am not saying never to treat your dog.  Just don't over-treat him/her.  Simply cutting back on the biscuits can have a huge impact on your dog's weight.  You can also switch out the type of treats you are feeding to something a little more healthy and low-cal.  For instance, many dogs like seed-free apple slices, watermelon, broccoli stems, carrots, green beans, and sweet potatoes.  Freeze-dried or dehydrated chicken breast pieces are also a great low-calorie snack.

Stick with a high quality dog food.  Check the labels of the foods you are feeding or considering to feed your buddy.  Make sure the carbohydrate sources are up to par.  Good sources include brown rice, oats, barley, and sweet potato.  Also, many manufacturers use corn and/or corn gluten meal as a protein substitute.  Experts say that corn is not a natural food source for canines and should be avoided.  Corn also contains eight grams of carbohydrates to every gram of protein.  Seek out proteins that specify what animal it comes from like chicken, salmon meal, bison meal, etc.

Avoid food with low quality fiber sources like soy mill run, peanut hulls, and wheat middling.  Stick with sources such as pumpkin seed, flaxseed, and fresh vegetables.  

Conventional thought suggests that the protein intake be reduced, since it is more difficult for an older dog's organs to break down high levels of said protein.  However, the reduced protein needs to be balanced out with worthy fruits and vegetables to provide the phytonutrients (bioactive compounds found in food that prevent disease and improve health) your dog needs to eliminate toxins and stay in optimal shape.

Remember to consult a veterinarian in regards to the correct and appropriate diet for your beloved pet, but also ask about adding a supplement to their daily regimen.  

As we know, antioxidants are a vital part of slowing the aging process and maintaining peak health.  They assist cells and organs to resist damage by inhibiting the destructive effects of oxidation.  

Vitamin E is one antioxidant that is naturally found in grains, nut oils, and dark leafy greens.  Working concurrently with Vitamin C, Vitamin E is even more effective in preventing cancer and other chronic diseases.

Vitamin A (fat-soluble) can be found in animal fats, egg yolks, and cod liver oil.  Beta-carotene (water-soluble) can be found in bright orange and yellow fruits and vegetables like carrots and sweet potatoes.  These nutrients have been said to decrease cancer risk in humans by as much as 30%.

Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulfates can help to slow the onset of arthritis.  Arthritis strikes the joints causing damage, inflammation, and pain.  Glucosamine and Chondroitin can contribute to the body's natural ability to heal itself.  The theory is that supplements such as these can help increase the rate at which the dog's body forms new cartilage by provide more sources of glucosamine and chondroitin with which to rebuild damaged tissues. 

So, with just a few tweaks in your senior dog's daily diet, you can dramatically change his/her overall health and longevity.  High-fives all around for trying to better your furry, four-pawed friend's life!

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cover photo by Ann on flickr


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