Saturday, July 8, 2017

Keeping Your Canine Seniors Fit and Healthy

Who wouldn´t wish for their beloved animal companion to live a long, happy and healthy life?

While most of us wish our animals would live forever, we know that the life cycle does not allow for this and we wonder what can we do for them to keep them by our side as long as possible, without pain and suffering, but vital, full of energy and spark.

There are so many factors that directly or in-directly influence our animals´ (and our as well, for that matter) health and longevity. Let´s take a look at some of the most crucial ones.

Most Critical Factors That Negatively Impact Our Animals´ Health and Longevity

  • Vaccination 
    The current vaccination protocols call for over-vaccination, destroying the animals´ immune systems and entering a lot of toxic components into their bodies, causing many severe chronic and/or acute health issues (including cancer, allergies, arthritis, digestive system disorders and rapid aging, resulting in shorter life spans)
  • Chemical Antiparasitic Protocols
    This includes deworming, tick and flea repellents, heartworm medication, etc.
    These highly toxic products carry a high health hazards, are connected with the same health problems as vaccines, and add the risk of developing neurological issues, epilepsy and more.
  • Allopathic Drugs and Treatments
    Too many antibiotics, immune system suppressing steroids and corticoids, drugs with severe side effects, NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs), hormonal treatments, etc. directly impact our beloved animal companions´ health and longevity.

    While sometimes conventional medical treatments are necessary and effective, the general tendency of our modern society today for the overuse of drugs and symptom suppression oriented protocols is a root cause of a gradual decline of our animals´ ability to stay fit and healthy, as chronic disease keeps altering their quality of life, and their immune systems are weakened and the entire organism compromised and thrown out of balance and harmony.
  • Inappropriate Nutrition
    Inappropriate, un-natural diet (= processed, commercial pet food and synthetic vitamin-mineral supplements) is among the three top reasons behind our animals´ multitude of illness, decreased quality of life, lack of vitality and shorter life spans.

  • Lack of Exercise
    Maybe you just checked all of the three above aspects and feel a huge relief, because you do not over vaccinate, use natural insect repellents and deworm your companions with natural products and only when needed, and your dog or cat has been eating species appropriate diet since their puppy or kittenhood.
    But does your animal receive their daily amount of exercise, adequately to their age and condition?

    Daily excercise and physical activity is super important for our animal companions. It doesn´t mean you need to train them every day, or that you must engage in some sort of sport. Not at all. Walks, the possibility to run free in the garden, to play with other dogs, horses or simply their own "kind", swimming, jogging with you, all of these are super important for them to not only keep them physically fit, but also mentally. 

    There are so many animals today, dogs in particular, who get depressed and most often it is due to the lack of excercise.

  • Lack of Mental Stimulation
    Just like with physical excercise, mental stimulation is super important in order to keep your companions happy, healthy and vital.
    I have learned this when we first started employing clicker training and shaping and also toys that require some thinking and other mental excercise at our kennel, to our then 15 year old dogs.
    The improvement of their overall brain activity, but also vitality was truly remarkable.
    So even if your senior pet has some mobility issues that might limit her or him, make sure to incorporate some games and activity for their mind.
What Can We Do to Support and Improve Our Canine Seniors´ Health, Vitality and Longevity

While prevention of a compromised health and rapid aging is the best option, you can still make a huge difference, even if your animal has already reached the senior age. You can even improve some of her or his existing health issues and conditions. It is never too late!

So what can you do to help?

1. Feed Species Appropriate Diet Tailored for Your Senior Dog´s Needs
If you already feed raw or home prepared diet, make sure that it covers the needs of your aging canine companion.
In case you feed commercial processed pet food, consider switching to species appropriate diet for senior dogs or at least supplement it with several important natural ingredients.

Evaluate important aspects of your dog´s diet, such as:
- does it include an easily digestible protein sources?
- does it include only natural micro-nutrient (vitamin, mineral, trace element, etc.) sources
- does it include good sources of antioxidants, probiotics, enzymes and other key components for your dog´s ensured vitality?
- does it provide natural support of your dog´s aging organ, mobility, heart and circulatory systems?
- does it address your dog´s current existing health issues?

2. Adjust your Dog´s Vaccination Protocol

Eliminate the amount of vaccines your dog will receive from now on and make sure to support her or his immune system and the entire organism with a natural antioxidant, enzyme and probiotic boost (ideally in form of herbs and nutrition), helping to detoxify the body from heavy metals and other toxins from the vaccine and supporting organs such as liver and kidneys.

At our kennel, we make sure to support our dogs 1-2 weeks prior and 2-3 weeks post vaccination with a special herbal immunizing and detoxification protocol, as we call it.

Check out the vaccination rules and regulations that apply in your country.You might be actually very surprised to find out that some of the rules are not being followed by most veterinary clinics!!!

For example, in my homeland of Czech Republic and other European Union countries only the rabies vaccination is obligatory, and the vaccination protocol calls for a tri-annual (every three years) re-vaccination. And yet vast majority of vets put your dog or cat in an unnecessary harm´s way by over-vaccinating them every year, including the non-obligatory vaccines against other diseases.
Find a vet, who does respect and follow your country´s regulations.

If your country´s rules allow for titre testing as a legal proof for your animal´s sufficient antibodies against the disease, always opt for this simple and safe blood test, instead of a vaccination.

3. Switch to Natural Anti-parasitic Treatments

There are many effective, safe natural options - you can deworm your dog with herbs, make or purchase flea, tick and other insect herbal repellent sprays, soaks, powders or baths.

4. Work with a Holistic Vet
I highly recommend to find a holistic veterinarian to work with. A true holistic vet, who understands and implements the holistic approach to all aspects of animal health care, including vaccination and anti-parasitic care.
There are unfortunately many vets who claim to be holistic vets, only because they endorse raw nutrition (species appropriate diet for dogs and cats), or because they work with homeopathy, or Bach flower remedies or maybe even acupuncture, yet they still over-vaccinate your pets and advise you to buy and apply dangerous chemical dewormers or tick repellents.

5. Create an exercise program suitable for your senior dog´s condition

Make sure you regularly provide walks and other activities and also mental stimulation via games, clicker training, etc.
It doesn´t have to be sophisticated. For an aging dog who might be slightly off with his condition, perhaps carries a couple extra pounds or shows signs of beginning arthritis or arthrosis, t
hree short daily walks might be more suitable than long one every couple of days, or an occasional long, tiring hike on a random weekend.

6. Incorporate a holistic preventive care
Our companion animals today have the luxury of many possibilities of preventive holistic health care. There are so many beneficial options such as massage, REIKI, physiotherapy check ups and treatments, stretching, and more.
All animals benefit from these methods greatly and love them too! 

A Few Tips For Senior Dogs´ Overall Wellness

The elderly and the young together at our Kipp d´Amundsen Kennels
Every apprentice and kennel assistant here at Kipp d´Amundsen Kennels knows the "drill" of preparation of food for our Canine Senior Citizens :)

For all our senior and special needs dogs, we apply individual feeding programs and we do feed them, with a few exceptions, twice a day.

Here is a breakdown of what we feed our Senior dogs:

Nutrition - Ingredients

Tripe - for a balanced intake of vitamins and minerals, probiotics and enzymes

Kefir - I take pride in our home made kefir, which is an integral source of our senior, special needs dogs and puppies´ feeding program. It is an excellent source of probiotics and enzymes.

Sour Kraut - this is an excellent, cheap and easy natural way to provide additional probiotics and enzymes, just like all other fermented foods. And as a bonus - our dogs love it!

Fish - occasionally, not in high amounts, fish such as trout, salmon, pike, perches and pollock are on the menu as a super important source of easily digestible protein and essential Omega 3 fatty acids.

Eggs - Due to the amount of dogs we live with, we are limited to one egg a week per dog, but I highly suggest that you feed raw whole eggs (including shells) 3 times a week. Another outstanding source of easily breakable protein, vitamin H, and also glucosamine and calcium for healthy bones and joints and even immunoglobulins (compounds that build up and support strongly the immune system)

Other easily digestible proteins that do not make the kidneys work extra hard, include poultry meat such as chicken, turkey, goose or duck or pheasant and other wild birds.

Nutritional Supplements 

Cold pressed Coconut, Flax Seed and Wild Salmon Oil - we circulate these three oils regularly, as they are easily digestible, palatable and very important sources of middle chain triglycerides and Omega 3 fatty acids.

Sometimes I opt for ground or infused Flax seed for other benefits, including gentle cleanse and protection of the mucus membranes in the dogs´s intestines.

Mobility Support - besides already mentioned egg shells, I feed daily, all year round ground Islandic Sea Corrals. They are an excellent source of minerals and trace elements in perfect balance and correct ratio. They can be a great option for a an older dog who´s digestive tract no longer tolerates bones in his diet.

There are also many herbs that provide a great mobility support and whose anti-inflammatory actions significantly help reduce arthritis. 

My favorites include: ground Rose hips, Chicory Root, Dandelion Leafs, Garlic, Turmeric, Cinnamon and Ginger. We do not feed the later three during summer time as they are energetically very warming.

CBD oil - while we do not use CBD oil in our dog care protocols for very long, Jachym and I are both impressed with its ability to relieve pain, improve mobility and energy levels.

We do not feed it to all of our senior dogs, but those with extra needs.

Kelp - this sea weed offers an impressive array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino-acids and other nutrients, and in a balanced form. It also helps the flow of the life force aka Qi (Chi) energy within the body and tonifies the blood. Kelp has also a fascinating ability to not store toxic heavy metals from the polluted oceans within its cells, making it a safe and effective daily supplement, not only for the senior dogs.

Herbs for cardiovascular support, vital immune system, organ and digestion support:
Hawthorn, Blueberries, Dandelion leaf and flower, Chickweed, Greater Plantain, Fireweed, Raspberry leaf, Nettles, Wild Chamomile, ground Milk Thistle seeds, Red Clover.

We don´t feed all of them together everyday, just 2-3 herbs at once. From spring to early fall we opt for harvesting and feeding chopped fresh herbs and during our long cold dark winter months we make infusions from the dried ones.

Our Goldies-Oldies are actually retired long distance sled dog athletes, who used to train regularly and perform hard in Nordic winter conditions. Thank to this they have kept tough and in good shape until high age. 
But retiring from this super active life makes it even more important for us to keep in mind their need to keep them in this good shape and happy state of mind.

Daily play time with the pack and free running in our large fenced in dog yard is a mandatory must at our kennel. We also make sure that all our retired sled dogs get to go for a walk every other day, in summer they enjoy the lake and we regularly visit the mini pond in the forest.

Playing with puppies and teaching them the pack rules and communication is not only appreciated by us, but it is an integral part of a healthy, harmonically functioning pack, and of course gives our canine seniors an important, integral role and mental stimulation they so much need.

When time allows, we, or our kennel staff do shaping or other positive reinforcement based activities and training, including my favorite games invented by my favorite professional dog trainer Susan Garrett (I highly recommend visiting and exploring her website!).

REIKI energy healing and harmonizing and gentle massage and stretching is something we try to focus more on in the past ten years or so, and not only has it great results, but the dogs thoroughly enjoy it, especially if such a session is made at the kennel, with the other dogs present, while we all tune in and spend a few precious moments in peace and harmony, without the day´s normal rush and buzz.

Of course, there is a big difference in the possibilities you have while sharing your life with one dog, have a multiple animal household or, as in our case, live with a large sled dog pack.
Our dogs have different needs and they come from different backgrounds. Adjust your preventive and complimentary care, and the daily activities for your beloved canine senior accordingly to your situation.

Hope you will find some of these tips useful and helpful for keeping your senior companion happy, fit and healthy for many more years to come!

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