Some Tips on How to Keep Aging Pets Sharp
There are many things you can do to help your dog or cat maintain good mental function for as long as possible, and delay the onset and progression of cognitive decline.
1. Feed a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet that includes omega-3 essential fats, such as krill oil, which are critical for cognitive health. The perfect fuel for aging pets is a healthy variety of fresh, living food suitable for your carnivorous cat or dog.
2. Eliminate all refined carbohydrates to allow more room for excellent-quality protein, full of critical amino acids, to be fed.
Eliminating extruded foods (kibble) means your pet will not be consuming the toxic byproducts of the manufacturing process, including heterocyclic amines and acrylamides. You can improve digestion and absorption of nutrients by feeding a less processed diet, not to mention improving your pet’s microbiome, which has been linked to improved cognitive health in humans.
3. Stop vaccinating and start titering. Vaccines do not “wear out” over time, and more vaccines means more adjuvants and heavy metals that accumulate in your pet’s brain.
4. Keep your pet’s body and mind active with regular exercise appropriate for her age and physical condition, and mental stimulation (puzzles and treat-release toys can be beneficial). Make sure your dog has opportunities to socialize with other pets and people. Think of creative ways to enrich your cat’s indoor environment.
5. Provide a SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) supplement as a safe and effective way to stall or improve mental decline. Consult your holistic veterinarian for the right dose size for your dog or cat. There are also commercial cognitive support products available.
6. Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older pets. Coconut Oil is a rich source of MCTs. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 lbs of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support.
7. Other supplements to consider are jellyfish extracts, resveratrol, which protects against free radical damage and beta-amyloid deposits, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola and phosphatidylserine, a nutritional supplement that can inhibit age-related cognitive deficits. Consult a holistic veterinarian for dosing guidance.
8. Keep your pet at a healthy size,overweight dogs and cats are at significant increased risk for disease as they age.
9. Maintain your pet’s dental health.
10. Experts recommend 2X-yearly veterinary visits for pets no matter the age, but this becomes even more important for dogs and cats getting up in years. Keeping abreast of your animal companion’s physical and mental changes as he ages is the best way to catch any disease process early.
Ask your veterinarian to perform a blood test to check your pet’s internal organ health to make sure you are identifying possible issues early on. There’s also a blood test that measures inflammatory fats you may want to consider.
These recommendations will not be tremendously helpful for a pet in the advanced stages of cognitive decline, which is why it is so important to diagnose and begin treating the problem as early as possible.
Cognitive dysfunction is a progressive disease that can’t be cured, but early diagnosis and intervention can slow mental decline and offer your aging pet good quality of life.
Have a terrific President’s Day weekend.