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Age Is Not A Disease – Part 1 (Nutrition)

Just like us, there are many changes that occur in our pets as they age. With proper education and awareness, you can help to maintain your pet as a happy and healthy part of the family for many years, even once they become a senior. By nature, animals will try to hide their signs of illness and pain – so knowing what to look for is key to observing small changes before they turn into big changes!

This is a broad topic and at Briarwood Animal Hospital we would be happy to answer further questions in person. For now, we have compiled a summary of information on what we believe to be some of the most important things to consider:

  • Nutrition
  • Arthritis, Mobility and Pain Control
  • Subtle Signs of Illness
  • Importance of Routine Screening

Nutrition for Senior Pets

Nutrition is a very valuable tool in maintaining health, preventing disease and also in helping to manage a disease. There is no one best diet for all older animals. Each animal is an individual and there are many factors that go into choosing the proper diet for our senior, aging pet.

Things to consider when choosing a diet for our senior pets
1. Are there any underlying diseases?
2. What is my pet’s body condition? eg. overweight vs underweight, muscle condition
3. What kind of environment does my pet live in? eg. Indoors only, country vs city dweller
4. What is my pet’s activity? How much, how intense, how often, what type of activities.

Diet Requirements
1. Well balanced
2. Palatable
3. Nutritionally complete

As our pet ages, they often have decreased energy requirements, decreased activity levels, and they begin to gain fat and lose muscle. The immune function and kidney function decline with age.

Considerations in diet formulations
1. Restricted phosphorus and supplemental omega 3 fatty acids to slow the progression of kidney disease
2. Controlled sodium level to support cardiac health
3. Glucosamine and Chondroitin, and omega 3 fatty acids for joint support
4. Calorie adjustments, as many dogs, and cats tend to gain weight as they age, however animals that lose weight or muscle with aging may need a more calorically dense diet.
5. Fibre (increased soluble and insoluble) may be useful for dogs and cats that have decreased intestinal motility and are prone to constipation.
6. Supplemental antioxidants help to maintain cognitive function
7. Protein that is high quality and in sufficient quantity will supply essential amino acids for body maintenance and minimize losses of lean body mass.

Written by Briarwood Animal Hospital

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