I met Kristi at the 2011 Healthy Living Summit in Philadelphia. I was still new to the whole “meeting people from the Internet” thing, but she was like a little ray of Arizona sunshine. I’m so glad we’ve kept in touch and am excited to share the following guest post with you.
Hi guys! My name is Kristi and I’m a veterinarian, healthy living enthusiast and chocoholic. I blog over at Lifesprinkles where I share my daily tips for staying active and finding balance with a busy life as well as the crazy antics of my three dogs Alan, Eddy and Jelly Bean.
I’m so excited for the opportunity to guest post for On Tap for Today! I love reading about Elizabeth’s musings on life and curious contemplation of Clark’s moods. (Don’t we all wish we knew what our dogs were thinking sometimes?)
In honor of Clark’s recent birthday, I thought I’d share some of my top tips for aging pets. As a veterinarian, I see many pets who advance into their golden years with ease and plenty who, well, don’t. If you want to ensure your dog ages a little more like an Olsen twin and less like a Rolling Stones band member then you’ve come to the right place! Here are my best tips for helping your pet age gracefully. (A quick clarification before we get started: as our dogs tend to age faster than we humans do, for the purpose of this post I’m considering any dog over the age of 3-4 as “middle-aged.” Don’t worry, Clark, you’re still a spring chicken.)
Start your supplements. Have a middle-aged pet? Now is the perfect time to start thinking about supplements. As a health conscious person, you take your vitamins right? Well, when it comes to our pets, it’s very much the same; it’s all about preventative care. My top two supplements by far for middle-aged pets are fish oils and glucosamine. Fish oils are great for so many reasons – they help support skin and coat health (especially important for pets who suffer from allergies), promote overall heart health and have general anti-inflammatory effects beneficial for immune support. Did you know that most dogs will develop arthritis at some point in their life? Larger breeds like Labradors and Great Danes tend to suffer from hip issues, and smaller dogs such as terriers are more prone to luxating patellas, which can lead to the development of arthritis in their knees. By the time most pets start showing symptoms of arthritis, a lot of damage to the joint has already been done. So, why not get a jump start on preserving cartilage now? It just makes good sense. As a general rule, large breed dogs can take around 1000 mg of glucosamine daily while smaller dogs require 500 mg or less. Be sure to check with your vet for your dog’s specific requirements.
Clean those teeth. For pets around the age of 3-4, now is the perfect time to start thinking about preserving those chompers. If your pet hasn’t had a good dental cleaning by this age, chances are he or she could benefit from one. Can you imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth or have them cleaned for four whole years? (Aside from the health issues, you’d probably have a lot fewer friends). It’s true, dental cleanings are expensive but definitely worth the investment in terms of your dog’s long-term health. If a dental cleaning just isn’t in the cards for your pup right now, sticking primarily to dry food, dental prescription diets, brushing (yes, brushing!) and various dental products (chews etc.) on the market can all be helpful. As for pets above the age of 7-8, I often have the discussion with owners who question, “Isn’t my dog too old for anesthesia?” No! In fact, it’s quite the contrary. As long as your pet is healthy and has normal blood work, it’s the perfect time to schedule a cleaning. The older your dog gets, the greater the chance to develop more problems that will lead to him or her being a less than ideal candidate for anesthetic procedures.
Perform a gut check. No, I’m not talking about intuition here. If your pet is overweight, now is the time to nip it in the bud. I typically gauge pets on a scale of 1-5, where 1 = extremely thin/underweight and 5 = way too many milk bones before bedtime. Ideally, you want your dog’s body condition score right around a 2.5 (where you can feel but not see his or her ribs, with a slight taper at the waist when looking down from above and a good tummy tuck from the side). Just as in humans, obesity can contribute to a host of other health problems for your pup – arthritis (more weight = more stress on the joints), skin and allergy issues, organ disease. My favorite tip for pets needing to scale back in the weight department is to replace about 1/4 cup of dry food with an equal amount of green beans (canned pumpkin is also great if seasonally available – about 1 Tbsp for large breeds and a couple tsp for smaller dogs). The added fiber found in green beans helps keep pets feeling full without missing the calories you’re sneakily deleting from their diet. And be sure to watch those treats! If your pet is looking a little rounded at the edges try replacing half of his or her treats with baby carrots. Just like with us, small changes add up!
I hope you’ve enjoyed my tips. (Thanks again, Elizabeth!) If you’d like to read more, feel free to pop on over to my blog anytime. I love visitors!
Also On Tap for Today:
- Posted my first video for the Under Armour #whatsbeautiful challenge – woot!
- Cute idea for Mother’s Day: custom tea bag tags
- HLS updates have been posted… check it
Got a pet? Share your best tip for keeping them happy and healthy.