Just like us, our dogs start suffering the same common ailments as they age. Symptoms that we can easily relate to, such as weight gain, mild forms of arthritis, greying and of course lacking energy are experienced by an ageing dog too. Just as these signs are symptoms to us that we are ageing, so too are they symptoms for our beloved companion, and as a pet parents, it’s our job to recognise this for their sake.
Recognising these symptoms is easy, but what is the next step if you have an ageing dog. What can you do as their pet parent to help treat these symptoms in a natural way? How can we help slow the ageing process down? Well, it’s going to come to you as no surprise that I’m encouraging we take a good look at their diet again. Of course I believe in the benefits of a raw diet which have been discussed in earlier blogs. If you have taken that step and moved onto a raw diet then you are now a well-educated raw feeder and, by the way, well done for taking that step!
However, what’s the next step and level of nutrition required as your pet passes into the senior stage of their life? A lot of foods that we consume to assist with slowing the ageing process should be foods that are anti-inflammatory, because inflammation is the pre-cursor to ageing. Ageing can be shown in numerous forms and symptoms as mentioned above.
At Big Dog we supply a product from our “scientific range,” called Wellbeing. This diet was formulated specifically as food for an ageing dog. Most ageing pets will start to put a little weight on and whilst they are just so damn cute and cuddly, just like us, its not recommended that they carry too much extra weight. Extra weight obviously has its own detrimental health effects, but it can also cause extra pressure on their joints, and again this is where arthritis starts to rear its ugly head. Unfortunately there is a
pattern, weight gain leads to inflammation, which leads to arthritis.
We created the Wellbeing diet specifically for an ageing dog as this diet is a lower fat diet than our standard range of diets, you will also find the protein has been reduced, not significantly, but reduced enough so we can include a more extensive range of ingredients that we believe will encourage the slowing of the ageing process and the fight against inflammation.
With this challenge in mind, our Wellbeing diet is very high in the potent anti-inflammatory Omega 3 essential fatty acids, and we supply this with the inclusion of foods such as fish – both salmon and sardines. Both of these fish are high in natural omega 3 oils. This type of omega 3 oil is also very unique (contains EPA and DHA essential fatty acids), as it also has the capacity to pass through the blood – brain barrier, and essentially this means, nourish our brains as well. Not only this, this oil is excellent for cardio vascular health, assisting with weight control and of course essential for healthy skin and coats for our pets. Omega 3’s also find themselves placed in every cell in the body, this ensuring cellular health. Happy cells mean less inflammation and slower ageing.
Speaking of Oils, we also include another oil in this formulation called coconut oil. We include a cold pressed, virgin coconut oil, which is known as a medium chain EFA, so it has a different chemical structure to a short and long chain EFA. Not essential to know the chemical structure but certainly important to know that this oil is virgin and cold-pressed. This means the oil hasn’t been exposed to excessively nutrient destroying temperatures, and has also not been refined. Refined means the trace minerals have been removed and we don’t want that. The more natural trace minerals in a natural form, the better for absorption and utilisation for our pet (and us).
Coconut oil has been shown to have many health benefits for our pets, some of which includes – weight control, anti-inflammatory properties, anti- viral and bacterial properties, it assists with control of skin issues (including yeast infections) and also contributes to a shiny luxurious coat.
Our wellbeing recipe also offers another potent anti-inflammatory ingredient called Turmeric. Most people have now heard about the benefits of this wonder herb. Research and studies have shown the benefits of this herb, with most studies based around the the active compound found in Turmeric called Curcumerin. This compound gives turmeric its wonderful bright yellow colour but it is also responsible for the potent anti-inflammatory effects.
Turmeric is also known for its anti -cancer, viral and bacterial properties, and more research has also shown it now has a form of Omega 3’s, that again, can pass through the blood-brain barrier.
Another well known ingredient which naturally retains omega 3 oils is flaxseed meal. We use this in all of our diets and its a cold pressed meal, so its natural nutrients are not destroyed by heat, but rather the process is under low temperature conditions. Flaxseed meal also supplies natural essential minerals and is an excellent ingredient that supplies a natural fibre. Good quality fibre plays an important role for our ageing companion.
Finally, our wellbeing diet provides a higher level of fruit, vegetables and wheat and barley grasses, than what is included in our core range of diets, making it perfect food for an ageing dog. These ingredients provide and excellent range of different forms of essential anti-ageing antioxidants, digestible vitamins and minerals, rich in enzymes (more discussion on this topic in another blog), fibre and also the important, and often overlooked ingredient in diets, simply moisture.
But, possibly the most critical nutrient that needs to be spoken about are the phytonutrients that are present in these raw ingredients. More studies are showing the benefits of these wonderful nutrients. Phytonutrients are responsible for cellular health, removing toxins from our bodies, have shown anti-cancer properties, have a wonderful antioxidant range of benefits, and also are able to be retained in our bodies longer then standard vitamin and minerals, this allows them to hang around longer to go about their important detoxifying roles.
So, if your pet is in their senior years of their life and you find that they are carrying some excessive weight, and/or some health issues are now starting to become evident it could be time to consider a diet that is developed specifically for this stage of their life. If you do, hopefully your ageing companion will soon become that playful, active younger version of themselves pretty quickly again. Where both you and your pet can get on with continuing to enjoy life and forming those ever lasting memories once more!