As your dog ages, his body starts to fail. He won’t get as much nutrition out of his food. His liver won’t be able to push out as many toxins. And his brain will begin to slow down.
That’s why senior dogs need a boost as they age. It helps them get what they need to live a healthy and comfortable life.
So let’s look at 5 important supplements you should consider giving your senior dog.
1. Prebiotics And Probiotics
As your dog gets older, his microbiome can become unbalanced. And that’s a problem.
Your dog’s microbiome is made up of bacteria and other microorganisms that live all over his body. The more populated and diverse your dog’s microbiome is, the healthier he’ll be.
But with age, the diversity and number of bacteria and microorganisms change. If harmful bacteria begin to crowd out the good ones … your dog will have to deal with inflammation, leaky gut and chronic disease.
This is where prebiotics and probiotics come in for senior dogs.
Prebiotics feed the beneficial bacteria already living in your dog’s gut. They’ll help boost the population of species that already call your dog’s gut home. And the more beneficial bacteria there are, the more benefits they will provide.
Probiotics won’t help increase the diversity and numbers of bacteria in your dog’s gut because they only survive for a few days. But they will help increase the output of beneficial byproducts while they’re there.
How To Give Your Senior Dog Prebiotics And Probiotics
There are many prebiotic-rich foods that you can add to your dog’s diet to boost his health. These foods also have other health benefits that your senior dog may benefit from. Some good choices include …
- Mushrooms – help fight cancer, support the liver, heart, bladder and digestive tract, manage diabetes and slow aging. Try turkey tail, chaga, and reishi for the best results.
- Chicory root – helps improve digestion and reduces inflammation.
- Garlic – regulates blood pressure, prevents blood clots, may prevent cancer and helps remove waste.
- Burdock root – regulates blood sugar, helps prevent cancer, supports organ health and reduces inflammation.
- Dandelion greens – helps with detoxification, stimulates appetite and supports the liver.
Probiotics are best given as a supplement for senior dogs. A good probiotic will have 10 or more strains of bacteria and 30+ billion CFU (colony forming units). This will help make sure that at least some of the probiotics survive the trip to the colon.
One exception is soil-based probiotics. Products that use soil-based organisms (SBOs) are less fragile and will last longer in the colon. If you buy a probiotic product with SBOs, you’ll be good with 1 or 2 strains and less than 1 billion CFU.
For convenience, look for a probiotic that has prebiotics as well. This will help make the probiotics more effective.
2. Digestive Enzymes
Digestive enzymes help break down food so that your dog can better absorb nutrients from it. While dogs produce digestive enzymes naturally, as they age, production slows. That’s why senior dogs are more likely to have enzyme deficiencies, which affect …
- The immune system
- Gallbladder function
If your dog eats cooked foods, he’s even more at risk for a deficiency. That’s because heat kills enzymes. And this lack of enzymes can lower resistance to stress and enlarge the pancreas and smaller organs, including the brain.
If your senior dog has an enzyme deficiency he will burp and fart, regurgitate undigested food and have abnormal bowel movements.
- Smelly breath
- Acid reflux
- Tummy rumbling or gurgling
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Foul-smelling stools
- Undigested food in stool
How To Give Your Dog Digestive Enzymes
You can feed your dog enzyme-rich foods to increase his enzyme intake. Fermented veggies, ginger, bananas and honey are all good choices. But like pre and probiotics, supplements can be a convenient way to add digestive enzymes to your dog’s diet.
When buying a supplement for your senior dog, you want to buy a product made for dogs. That’s because dogs have different enzyme needs than humans. Also, try and find a product that contains pancreas. Pancreas is rich in important enzymes and may even help your dog’s body produce more of its own.
- Papain – breaks down meat
- Bromelain – breaks down protein
- Betaine hydrochloric acid – breaks down protein
- Cellulase – breaks down fiber
- Invertase (in yeast and pollen) – breaks down starchy carbs
- Ox Bile – breaks down fat
It’s best to give your dog enzymes with his meals. If it helps, you can add water or broth to the supplement. But never put digestive enzymes on hot food as this will kill them.
As your dog gets older, his body becomes more susceptible to oxidative stress … especially in his brain. Oxidative stress happens when your dog’s body has an excess of free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that attack other cells, damaging DNA, proteins, and cell membranes. This can lead to premature aging and chronic disease.
To help prevent free radical damage your dog needs antioxidants. Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals, which stops them from attacking healthy cells.
Berries are an excellent source of antioxidants. Blueberries are especially beneficial because they contain a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanins. What makes anthocyanin so special is that it can cross the blood-brain barrier. That means it’s one of the only dietary antioxidants that can protect your dog’s brain from oxidative stress. As an added bonus, berries are also prebiotic.
Another excellent antioxidant for senior dogs is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a plant pigment found in algae and pink seafood like shrimp and salmon. It protects cells to reduce free radical damage and it’s good for the …
Astaxanthin also contains Superoxide Dismutase (or SOD), which is one of the most powerful antioxidants you can give your dog.
How To Increase Your Dog’s Antioxidants
Astaxanthin is a special antioxidant found specifically in red algae and the animals that eat it. But to make sure your dog is getting a healthy source of astaxanthin, consider a supplement. That way you don’t have to worry about finding seafood that is free of toxins and chemicals.
4. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is another important antioxidant. You probably already know that it’s an important factor in immunity. It’s why so many of us take it during cold and flu season. But vitamin C also helps grow tissue, form calcium and iron and support the adrenal gland, which produces hormones.
Unlike you, your dog can produce his own vitamin C. But like digestive enzymes, as he gets older production slows. This means your senior dog will need this important vitamin supplemented into his diet as he ages.
How To Add Vitamin C To Your Dog’s Diet
Natural whole food sources of vitamins and minerals are the best choice for dogs. Blueberries are rich in vitamin C, which is another great reason to feed them to your dog. Broccoli is also a great choice for adding vitamin C to your dog’s dish. In fact, 1 lb of broccoli has more vitamin C than 2.5 lbs of oranges.
5. Omega-3 Fats
Chronic inflammation is a prolonged immune response. If left unchecked, it will start to affect your dog’s immune function and lead to premature aging. It’s also linked to degenerative disease and problems like …
- Autoimmune disease
- Organ disease
One of the best ways to reduce inflammation is with omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are powerful anti-inflammatories that keep cell membranes healthy. They also help reduce cognitive decline, maintain healthy joints and boost the immune system. The problem is that most dogs don’t get enough omega-3s, so you will need to add it to your dog’s diet yourself.
How To Give Your Senior Dog An Omega-3 Supplement
The most popular source of omega-3s for dogs is fish oil. The problem is fish oil is an incomplete source of omegas. It’s also highly susceptible to oxidative stress, contains toxins like heavy metals and dioxins and isn’t sustainable. The good news is there are alternatives, with green-lipped mussels being at the top of the list.
Green lipped mussel oil is a rich source of fatty acids and is more bioavailable and sustainable than fish oil. It also contains Eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA). This is an important anti-inflammatory omega-3 that isn’t found in fish oils.
You can give your senior dog a green lipped mussel supplement as a powder or liquid. But make sure the supplement hasn’t had the fats removed. This is a practice that some manufacturers use, and it makes the oil useless to your dog.
Helping your dog live a long and comfortable life is one of your top priorities. So why not try some of these supplements for seniors and see just how big of a difference they can make.
Does your dog suffer from any of these common issues?
- Itchy skin
- Hot spots
- Infected ears
- Itchy, stinky feet
- Food sensitivities
It might look like allergies … but it could be a yeast infection. Yeast dermatitis is a common issue in dogs that can be frustrating to treat. But don’t worry … there are home remedies that can help solve this common cause of skin conditions.
There are just four simple steps to follow and you could be saying goodbye to yeast for good.
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Xu H, Huang W, Hou Q, et al. Oral administration of compound probiotics improved canine Feed intake, weight gain, immunity and intestinal microbiota. Front Immunol. 2019 Apr 2;10:666.
Shukitt-Hale B, Bielinski DF, Lau FC, Willis LM, Carey AN, Joseph JA. The beneficial effects of berries on cognition, motor behaviour and neuronal function in ageing. Br J Nutr. 2015 Nov 28;114(10):1542-9.
Hesta M, Ottomans C, Krammer-Lukas S, Zentek J, Heilweg P, Buyse J, Janssens GPJ. The effect of vitamin C supplementation in healthy dogs on antioxidative capacity and immune parameters. 2009;93(1).