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Aging Pets Need Extra Care

Updated on August 29, 2019
Rachel Kaplus profile image

Rachel managed a health store for over 8 years, and has first hand knowledge of the benefits of supplements for people and pets.

A Pet Getting Older Is Always Difficult

Dogs give so much to us: unconditional love, constant companionship, unsolicited face licking, and free food disposal. It seems unfair that the life spans of these incomparable animals are so much shorter than ours, but it's the reality we're faced with when watching a formerly frisky dog suddenly struggle to get up stairs. Of course, just as in humans it is preferable to endure the ravages of time than to be faced with the alternative (i.e. an untimely demise. I know you all got it, but just to make sure we're all on the same macabre page).

Supplements For Dogs

Many people are familiar with glucosamine, MSM, collagen, and more to support joint health, but don't know that the ingredients in these supplements can help dogs' achy joints as well. I'm not saying to just raid your pill cabinet and empty it into the dog bowl - the dosage is important, and there are products specifically formulated for dogs. Not all herbs or vitamins that are safe for humans are safe for dogs, so you should never give a dog human supplements without checking with your vet.

Vital Senior Dog Supplements

  • Omega 3/Fish Oil
  • Glucosamine
  • Turmeric
  • Probiotic
  • Arnica

Checking With Your Vet

While some vets actively recommend pet supplementation, it is still a new arena for many. Test the waters by seeing what they think of probiotic supplements for dogs, and that should give you a better idea of their thought processes. My favorite vet not only recommended probiotics before I even asked about them, but she also recommended a homeopathic anti-inflammatory for my 15 year old schnauzer.

A Focus On Inflammation

Many of the mobility issues that arise as challenges to senior dogs can be traced back to inflammation. Turmeric, hemp extract, the homeopathic remedy arnica, and fish oil all work to combat inflammation in different ways. Additionally, the fish oil has wonderful benefits for your dog's skin and coat (and if you buy it in liquid form and mix it with food it makes dinner time a treat).

How Do You Give A Dog A Supplement?

While supplements for people don't generally tantalize the palate, supplements for dogs tend to be formulations canines crave. There are joint support treats shaped like bones, beef liver flavored powder to sprinkle on food, even bacon flavored hemp extract! My dogs literally beg for supplements, although they are...odd (as pictured below).

Blends vs. Single Remedies

In general, I prefer a blend with a few ingredients over a single ingredient supplement. A joint support blend with turmeric, glucosamine, green lipped mussel, and flower essences really ups your chances of success since you're attacking the problem from all angles. Not to mention, it's cheaper and easier to plop one pill in your dog's food bowl than seven.

Not Just For Seniors

Although I've focused on older dogs and their mobility issues here, any age of pup can benefit from supplements. Probiotics help keep things running smoothly and support the immune system, there are digestive enzyme blends to reduce gas and bloating, liver support formulas, and skin and hair blends.

Above all of those, the supplement that gets the most use in my house is a calming blend made with GABA, theanine, valerian, and chamomile. I have one dog who is terrified of thunder and one who thinks each time I leave I'm never coming back, so I go through doggie chill pills with some regularity.

Caution: dogs on supplements may become overconfident
Caution: dogs on supplements may become overconfident

Do Your Best To Help Them Feel Their Best

Of course, any pet owner wants their pets to have the greatest quality of life possible, but sometimes buying the very best (or most expensive) food and supplements isn't possible. Just remember to do the best you can! Anything is better than nothing, and if you have an elderly dog struggling to get around, you don't have to feel guilty if you can't afford five or more supplements. Just try one and see if you can tell an improvement. We can't keep our furry best friends with us forever, but we can try to make sure they are happy and healthy as long as possible.


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