Caring for your aging pets

In humans, unhealthy habits can shorten our life spans-and the same is true for pets. Help to ensure your pet leads a long and happy life with this health and fitness plan for dogs and cats.

Four-Footed Fitness

Exercise is just as important for pets as for people, so make sure your dog gets plenty of quality outdoor time, with lots of heart-healthy walking and running. If your cats are not outdoorsy types, provide them with fun, wall-mounted shelves. Cats are arboreal creatures that enjoy climbing, and it helps them stay in shape. Or, try placing your cats' food in a maze- like interactive feeder; this turns mealtime into a game that appeals to their feline hunter- gatherer instincts. It's fun to watch them pounce on their meals, retrieving them morsel by morsel!

Go Grain-Free

Feeding dogs and cats a grain-free diet can help to prevent inflammation from shortening their lives. Grain aggravates aging arthritic joints, and the best way to avoid this-especially as pets grow older-is to go grain-free. To help prevent diabetes and cancer, make sure that your pets' diet contains no corn, which is fattening and high-glycemic.

Healthy Treats

When it comes to human food treats, try sardines packed in water, as well as pet-safe veggies such as celery, carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, and baked sweet potato. And certain spices are just as good for your dog or cat as they are for you. My dogs' favorites are cinnamon and turmeric. They're anti-inflammatory and help to prevent cognitive decline. My dogs love the way these spices make food taste.

Oral Health

Oral health is the gateway to overall wellness. To keep your animals' chompers in peak condition, try brushing their teeth with coconut oil, which is antibacterial and great for oral health in both pets and people. A bonus: Coconut oil makes the chore of tooth-brushing easier and more enjoyable for brusher and brushee, because I have yet to meet the dog or cat who doesn't love the irresistibly sweet taste! (I often soup up my pets' kibble with coconut oil, too.)

"Paws" to De-Stress

Stress is a silent killer for people and pets. Try adding homeopathic flower essences to water bowls (try Bach Rescue Remedy) and playing soothing classical music if pets are anxious (e.g., on the 4th of July, when the loud noise of fireworks may upset them). And let them know they are loved. When pets feel loved, they feel great, with a healthy immune response and zest for life-and all that spells greater longevity. Talk to your pets and spend as much quality time with life-and all that spells greater longevity. Talk to your pets and spend as much quality time with them as humanly possible. But when you must leave them home alone, make sure they have plenty of toys to keep them occupied. And when it's time for them to sleep, provide them with cuddly, supportive beds so they'll have sweet dreams. This way, you can rest easy too, knowing you've done all you can to extend your beloved pets' lives to the fullest.

Key Supplements

A high-quality FISH OIL formulated for pets helps to maintain health on many levels. But make sure to use oil made just for pets, as fish oil products for people often contain rosemary oil, and that's not good for cats. Try: Nordic Naturals Omega-3 Pet. PROBIOTICS for pets are key for a healthy immune system. To prevent geriatric cloudy eyes in senior dogs, MILK THISTLE works wonders, and it also supports the liver and kidneys. HAWTHORN can help to keep your pet's heart strong. Cats can be finicky, but powdered supplements are easy to administer to dogs; simply sprinkle the capsule contents over food moistened with fish oil (half a capsule for smaller dogs).

We've found that a combination of supplements and daily exercise really help to keep our dog in good shape and provide a long healthy life. I hope this article provides you some tips and inspiration to help your "old buddy" happy and healthy!