How to Improve and Maintain the Health of Older Pets 

The ASPCA announced that the incidents of cancer and other diseases are becoming more common in older dogs and cats. Many health innovations allow pets to live longer but their likelihood for contracting debilitating diseases also increases as they age. 

A holistic approach to pet health care suggests you: 
• Feed pets a well balanced, high quality diet to ensure they are getting essential nutrients. 
• Exercise your pets as part of an active lifestyle 
• Actively maintain emotional well-being in your pet by offering a loving environment 

The effect of these steps is to increase the longevity of your pet. These are also steps to ensure your pet’s elder years are good ones. 

Exercise for Senior Dogs 

Exercise is important for older dogs to prevent obesity and arthritis. However, you need to recognize your dog is not a puppy anymore. What was once a vigorous 2 or 3 mile walk may become a leisurely 2 or 3 loops around the block. Try to maintain a routine for walking senior dogs. Go at a time of day when your dog is loose and mobile, and at a distance and pace that seems comfortable. Your dog may be the last to realize he is not a puppy anymore, so you have to control the level of exertion to avoid injury. 

Preventing Cancer in Dogs and Cats 

Throughout your pet’s lifecycle, there are steps you can to help avoid the development of cancer in older dogs and cats: 
• Have your pet neutered or spayed. This helps prevent mammary tumors and ovarian, uterine and testicular cancers. 
• Avoid toxins such as pesticides and other chemical lawn-products. 
• Use pet-approved sunscreen on fair skinned animals with thin coats. 
• Use natural supplements and herbs to support the immune system. 
• Take your pet to the vet at the first sign of any mass or lump. 

 Diet for older Dogs and Cats 

As older animals become less active, they need food lower in protein and carbohydrates to avoid weight gain. Choose a food formulated for senior animals and avoid the temptation to give them unhealthy table scraps. Older animals have trouble absorbing nutrients from food. Supplements with digestive enzymes can help as can a daily multivitamin. Antioxidants help to slow down the effects of aging. 

Joint Health 

Like obesity, your pet can avoid joint pain and arthritis problems with preventative health care. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can be used to maintain joint and cartilage health before problems become pronounced. These supplements also help relieve pain and restore mobility in older animals that tend to stiffen up, particularly after napping. 

The real key to having a healthy senior pet is a holistic lifestyle that prevents disease from developing. You might be surprised how active and happy an older dog or cat can be when they have had the proper diet, exercise, and attention.