Although dietary supplements can be beneficial at any stage of life, many people don’t start thinking about giving them to their pets until they reach their senior years. This is the time when we are reminded of their mortality as we notice signs of arthritis and that telltale gray muzzle. With so many products on the market making different promises, it’s hard to know which ones are safe, let alone helpful for your senior pooch.
Dr. Marty Becker has been a practicing veterinarian for more than 20 years. He has contributed to Good Morning America and The Dr. Oz Show, written 25 books, and sits on the Board of Directors for The Grey Muzzle Organization, a non-profit group devoted to helping senior dogs. When it comes to his aging canine patients, there are three major supplements he recommends.
1. Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s)
Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids are best known for doing wonders for a dog’s skin and coat. While a shiny pooch is certainly an added bonus, EFA’s are thought to aid in critical brain function, as well as boost the immune system – two very important benefits for senior dogs! For those experiencing arthritis or the general aches and pains of aging, EFA’s are also known to have anti-inflammatory properties.
2. Glucosamine with Chondroitin Sulfate
Glucosamine and chondroitin are compounds found in healthy cartilage. Aging dogs experience joint pain when cartilage naturally breaks down and joint fluid is lost. The anti-inflammatory properties in glucosamine help to reduce that pain and aid in cartilage regeneration, while the water-retaining properties of chondroitin sulfate aid in joint lubrication. This type of supplement works well when paired with essential fatty acids.
Probiotics are designed to replace the healthy bacteria in the gut that can be killed off due to illness, stress, medications, and a variety of other causes. When the healthy bacteria levels drop too low, the bad bacteria in the gut take over, wreaking havoc on the digestive system, which contains up to 80% of a dog’s immune defenses. Probiotics keep the flora levels balanced, providing important benefits for an aging dog beyond digestive health. There is evidence that probiotics boost the immune system, strengthening your senior dog’s defenses against infections and auto-immune diseases.
Remember that frequent exams, a high quality diet, and maintaining a healthy weight are important for all dogs, but especially seniors! Consult with your vet to determine an overall wellness strategy and which supplements are right for your pooch. The goal is to keep your best friend healthy, comfortable, and most importantly, by your side as long as possible!