The aging process takes a toll on your furry friend’s body. As he grows older, he won’t be able to move or play like he used to. Many senior dogs suffer from geriatric diseases such as arthritis, vestibular disease, cataracts, and cognitive dysfunction. These can cause pain and discomfort, as well as immunosuppressive side effects.
Certain herbs and natural remedies can alleviate symptoms of geriatric diseases and improve your dog’s quality of life. However, these should only be given in consultation with your trusted veterinarian.
Herbs for Improving Senior Dogs’ Health
Adaptogenic herbs – which help the body adapt to external stressors – are among some of the most beneficial for aging dogs. They strengthen the body’s natural stress response, in addition to boosting cognitive function and the immune system. Adaptogenic herbs can also soothe anxiety, strengthen the muscles, improve coordination, and help your dog sleep.
Some adaptogenic herbs include ginseng, rhodiola, aralia, schizandra, and rhaponticum. Many of these can be used in combination with each other. Although these herbs are available for purchase at health food stores, it’s best to look for a supplement product that’s specially formulated for dogs.
Some of the staple herbs in your kitchen are also beneficial for your aging pal. These include basil, oregano, peppermint, and rosemary. Basil is a natural immune booster, while oregano and peppermint help relieve gastrointestinal upset and nausea. Rosemary is chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and calcium, which can help prevent cell damage and maintain strong bones.
These herbs may be available in capsule form, but you can also sprinkle a small amount of fresh or dried herbs onto your dog’s food. Small dogs only require a pinch of herbs, while larger dogs can eat up to a teaspoon. If you have any doubts about whether an herb is safe, err on the side of caution and avoid it.
Traditional Chinese medicine may restore limb function in dogs diagnosed with intervertebral disc disease. Chinese medicine supplements cannot be purchased over the counter, and must be prescribed. They may come in capsule, liquid, powder, or topical forms. These may be recommended in conjunction with other medications or treatments.
Natural Supplements for Senior Dogs
Some of the best natural supplements you can give your dog are fruits and vegetables. Most of them are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and other natural, immune-boosting compounds.
Apples: Contain fiber and vitamins A and C. Do not feed dogs the core or seeds.
Bananas: Contain potassium, biotin, vitamins, copper, and fiber. Should only be given in moderation due to high sugar content.
Blueberries: Contain fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants which protects cells from damage.
Celery: Contains vitamins A, B, C, cancer-fighting compounds, and substances that improve cardiovascular health.
Carrots: Contain fiber and beta-carotene. Also beneficial for dental health.
Pineapples: In addition to fiber, vitamins, and minerals, pineapples contain bromelain, which aids in the absorption of protein.
Fruits and vegetables should be given in small amounts, and the dog’s diet should be adjusted accordingly. Remember, grapes, cherries, and avocados are poisonous for dogs. Again, if you’re unsure whether or not a fruit or vegetable is safe to give your dog, be cautious and avoid it.
Capsule supplements may also boost your pawesome pal’s health. Vitamin and mineral supplements should be given to dogs with an incomplete diet. Glucosamine and chondroitin supplements can help ease joint pain in dogs with arthritis and other joint conditions. Antioxidant supplements may also boost the immune system.
Administering Herbs and Supplements Safely
When searching for herbs, herbal supplements, and other natural remedies, only purchase products made exclusively for animal use. Always follow the dosage directions on the product packaging. Never give your dog any herbs or supplements without first consulting a veterinarian.