Feeding your dog or cat is one thing you do every single day that has a direct influence over their length and quality of life. The nutrient needs of your dog or cat will vary according to age, activity, lifestyle, environment, special needs, reproductive status and health status.
Looking at age, there are three life stages that your puss or pooch will go through -
growth and reproduction
It is important to provide the nutrients your cat or dog needs at each of these life stages.
How can you ensure that you are feeding for the right life stage?
You can feed commercial diets aimed at specific life stages but in my experience these foods are deficient in health supporting nutrients.
Instead, feed a fresh, natural and real food diet that consists of high quality and high digestible proteins from animals and plants (for seniors, less protein is usually required but this will depend on the individual), vegetables and supportive nutrients:
Good Fats - omegas 3 and 6 help to maintain healthy skin, joints, cognitive function and immune health. Good sources include small, oily fish and clean algae/phytoplankton supplements.
Antioxidants - for good immune health. Good sources include spirulina; wheat grass; barley grass; vitamin C foods such as zucchini, bok choy, green beans, leafy greens, alfalfa, parsley, sweet potato, watercress and sweet peppers; vitamin E foods such as free range eggs, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, sweet potato, nuts and seeds; shiitake mushrooms, green lipped mussels and turmeric.
Calcium - avoid excess. The correct amounts can be provided by feeding raw meaty bones.
L-Carnitine - increases bone mass and bone density. Satisfy your pet's requirements by feeding high quality and high digestible animal proteins (nb common pet food ingredients can be low in L-Carnitine and supplementation is usually necessary).
Fibre - this nutrient benefits all for good digestive health but is particularly important for your senior pet to avoid constipation. It can also help control hairballs in cats and prevent obesity. Good sources include vegetables, barley bran, coconut, rolled oats, quinoa, amaranth and millet.
Glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate - important for senior pets to support joint health. Good sources include green lipped mussels, bone broth
Ruth Hatten is an animal naturopath and pet nutritionist. She is based on the Sunshine Coast and travels frequently to see clients in Brisbane. She also offers the majority of her services online. Find out more here.