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Sun shining on smiling woman receiving hug from aging golden retriever with woodpile in the background

One of the hardest parts of being a pet owner is seeing our once peppy puppies and curious kittens grow up and slow down as they become seniors. But even though they’re mature in age, they can still have some great years ahead of them. In fact, it’s been said that in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, but the life in your years. So, let’s look at some ways you can help your elder pet thrive in their golden years!

Happy gray-faced senior dog sitting on green grass and looking directly at the camera

Gray Matters
The older our pets get, the less active they tend to be. With less activity comes less need for calories to burn for energy, so it’s important to feed senior pets an appropriate diet – one that takes into consideration the right number of calories necessary to provide the energy they need without the extra weight that their older frames may not be able to properly support. In addition, some senior formulas will have added nutrients and supplements that have been shown to benefit older dogs – particularly glucosamine and chondroitin, which are well-known for helping prevent hip and joint issues which can be common in mature dogs. Many, if not most, brands of dog food have a senior formula – often available in dry or wet varieties. While brands may have less senior formulas available for cats as compared to dogs, often an indoor or weight management formula can serve similar purposes to senior recipes. You can see just some of the great choices we offer for older pets online and in-store.

Chonky black and white cat sitting next to empty orange food dish with longing green eyes

Weight Time
As mentioned, extra weight can put detrimental strain on the skeletal system of our fur babies – at any age, but especially when their bones are already experiencing loss of density which can occur with increases in age. But that’s not the only concern that may come with obesity. Another danger is diabetes. Our pets generally love to eat and we love to make them happy. Sadly, allowing them to overeat or feeding them a calorie-dense diet when they’re not burning those calories off can possibly lead to issues with how their body uses insulin, which in turn can result in other problems like cataracts and urinary tract infections.
If you’re concerned your dog or cat may be a bit heavy for their breed and age, consult your veterinarian. If they are diagnosed with obesity, diabetes, or other conditions that can be affected by their weight, your vet will consider your pet’s weight and activity level and determine how many calories your pet needs every day. Then you can choose a food that’s right for your dog or cat and keep an eye on how much they eat. In the case of diabetes, many vets will recommend a high-fiber, low-fat diet since fiber both helps your pet feel full and slows the entrance of glucose to the bloodstream. Keep in mind, any time a pet eats a mainly dry kibble diet it is important to make sure they drink plenty of water. Formulas that are labeled as ‘Weight Management’ can be a good place to start when shopping for the right food for your diabetic dog or cat.

Beagle eating meaty wet dog food from a plastic food dish

Meat the Challenge
Just like people, our pets are unfortunately more likely develop illnesses as they grow older, one of which is cancer. And just like people, pets can experience unhealthy weight loss during cancer treatment. While there are no commercially available formulas targeted to pets with cancer, there is limited research that may suggest that a diet low in carbohydrates and higher in proteins and healthy fats - alongside chemotherapy - may help pets have a higher probability of remission and a longer survival time. Cancer cells break down carbs to produce glucose and feed on that glucose, essentially stealing the energy your dog should have gotten from the carbs. Feeding your dog less carbs and more healthy fats (like the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish) provides the cancer cells less access to the glucose they want and allows your dog to burn the fats for energy instead. And the proper amount of protein can help your pet build muscle. Of course, it’s always a good idea to feed a nutritionally balanced diet and consulting with your veterinarian is essential in finding the right diet that will help your pet maintain a healthy weight while they fight off any illness. Explore some of the higher protein, lower carb formulas we carry and check with your vet to see if they may be good options for your dog or cat.

Return the love your pet has given you all their life by ensuring they get the right nutrition based on their age. Let The Natural Dog and Nature’s Emporium help you and your pets get the most out of their ‘golden years’!

Shop Specialty Pet Diets online or visit us in store for even more options!

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