While there’s no fountain of youth for your beloved Fido or Fida, there is a growing body of research that suggests what you feed (or don’t feed!) your pet has an enormous impact on his or her ability to age gracefully. Consider this:
- Overweight dogs have a shorter lifespan – as much as 2.5 years shorter – according to long-term research conducted by the University of Liverpool, which compiled veterinary data on more than 50,000 dogs over two decades.
- Overweight dogs are at an increased risk of developing a range of chronic diseases including orthopedic diseases, diabetes mellitus, certain types of neoplasia, impairment of respiratory, cardiovascular, and renal function, and adverse effects on quality of life.
- Gut Biome – Researchers have documented differences in the gut microbiome of obese dogs versus healthy-weight dogs, but aren’t yet sure which comes first – gut dysfunction or obesity.
- The Gut-Brain Axis – Researchers are also discovering relationships between the canine gut biome and canine cognitive health – such as:
- Serotonin, the happiness hormone, is produced in the gut, meaning that maintaining great gut health may help with mood.
- Gastrointestinal microbial diversity has been shown to decrease with age, and that decline is associated with reduced cognitive function.
- The gut biome composition of dogs with high anxiety or aggressiveness is different than the biome composition of dogs who are neither.
A Little Help For Your Friend…
One way to improve your dog’s health may be to provide supplements that can bring powerful benefits to a high-quality, balanced diet. Consult with your veterinarian to see if the following would benefit your loyal companion:
- Probiotics (eg. Fortiflora or Proviable) to improve gut biome; may also help with weight management
- Neuroprotective Supplements (SeniLife, Petandim) – these nutraceuticals are designed to improve early cognitive decline
- Omega 3/Fish Oil – often used to support cognition, reduce inflammation, improve immune function, skin, coat, and mood
- Glucosamine/chondroitin: supplements are designed to boost the repair of damaged cartilage
- Green-lipped mussels: may improve joint lubrication, reduce inflammation, stiffness, joint pain, and improve mobility and range of motion.
“Research continues to shed light on the importance of managing weight, nutrition and the gut biome to improve the quality of life in aging pets,” said Dr. Amy Hoss, Medical Director for Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
“Anything a pet parent can do to improve nutrition and control weight will make a meaningful difference in the quality – and length – of their days together.”