Senior dogs aren’t the spry little pups they once were. Over the years, you may notice it takes your dog longer than usual to get up the stairs. They might forget where their food bowls are, or crunchy treats might become too hard for their teeth.
Aging is a natural part of life that you can’t stop. But what you can do is support the bodily systems that are often affected by the aging process. Supplements contain a diverse array of nutrients designed to help your older canine companion feel like a puppy again.
Why do senior dogs need supplements?
Dogs start to slow down in their later years. Systems within the body become less efficient than they used to be. While this may sound concerning, mild conditions like achy joints and cognitive decline are natural parts of the aging process. With the help of a daily supplement, your senior pup can reclaim some of their youthfulness and live a longer, healthier life.
Senior dog supplements are an effective way to support your dog’s joint health. As your dog gets older, their body reduces production of glucosamine, a compound that forms the cartilage around your dog’s joints. When the cartilage wears down, senior dogs can experience discomfort when they walk, stand up or play. Some supplements are designed to replenish the glucosamine your dog has lost to old age. These glucosamine supplements can partially restore your senior dog’s mobility and comfort.
Dementia is also very common among senior dogs. During the aging process, it becomes harder for the body to create and repair nerve cells in the brain. As a result, your senior pup might have to work extra hard to learn new commands. They might also forget basic parts of their routine, such as where it’s appropriate to eliminate. A senior dog supplement can delay the progression of cognitive decline by preserving nerve cells and promoting the growth of new ones.
Supplements can boost and protect your dog’s overall health
Senior dogs also have a greater risk of developing chronic diseases. One of the largest precursors to chronic disease is inflammation, which can build slowly over the course of their lives. Senior dog supplements can reduce inflammation by adding omega-3 fatty acids to their diet. Omega-3s have an anti-inflammatory effect throughout the entire body, which can lower the risk of arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and kidney disease.
Aging causes the body to slow production of essential compounds, too. For example, senior dogs tend to have a harder time producing enough digestive enzymes. An enzyme deficiency means the body can’t properly break down and absorb nutrients from food. Some supplements can repopulate the intestines with digestive enzymes, allowing your senior dog to get the most out of their food. Look for supplements that contain papain, bromelain and betaine hydrochloric acid, since these are essential for breaking down your dog’s protein-rich diet.
Senior dogs might also experience more oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when unstable molecules called free radicals attack healthy cells. Free radicals damage DNA and cell membranes, which can lead to chronic disease and can accelerate the aging process. Help your senior pup combat oxidative stress by offering them an antioxidant supplement. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals and defend healthy cells against damage.
How to administer senior dog supplements
Before giving your senior dog a supplement, always consult a vet for proper dosage and to verify how often you should administer it. Also, make sure the supplement won’t interact with any medications your dog takes. Senior dogs are more likely to be on medication, so consider this while picking out a supplement. A vet can tell you which supplements are safe to take with your dog’s prescriptions.
Another important thing to consider is whether the supplement is best taken with or without food. For example, digestive enzymes are most effective when you administer them during meals. This allows the enzymes to break down nutrients as soon as they enter the body. Enzymes are highly sensitive to heat, and sprinkling them over hot food can kill them before they reach the intestines. If your senior dog eats a home-cooked diet, make sure the food has cooled down first.
There are also different types of supplements—namely pills, liquids, tablets and chewables. Many pet parents have found that chewable supplements are the best option for their senior dogs. Chewables are soft and easy to break apart, making them a good choice for senior dogs with dental disease. They look, smell and taste exactly like treats, which makes the administration process easier for dogs who despise swallowing pills.
Supplements can boost your dog’s health at every stage in life. But for senior dogs in particular, supplements are crucial for staving off chronic disease and preserving the body’s vital systems. Every dog is different, so check with your vet to see which supplements are right for your senior pup.