We can all agree that we would like our pets to live longer, to have more time with them, their lifespan is unfair and the truth is; it is gut wrenching to even think about it.
If you read my “Welcome blog”, you know that I recently lost my almost 20 year old furry baby Sherman. This post is not about him, but it is to share some of the tips and tricks I learned from him. Sherman was sick for the last 4 years of his life. He was first diagnosed with cancer, then with kidney disease, but at the end we lost him to the cruelty of challenges with dementia. During those years we learned so much about quality of life, senior care, longevity, treatment options, holistic care, etc, but there were a few changes that we made in his early diagnoses that we can say really contributed to his longevity.
Here are 3 easy actionable changes you can make today to help your pets live a longer and healthier life.
- Home-cooked Food: Consider cooking your pets’ food. We found that just by making this one easy change, we extended our pet’s life for many years more without mentioning the fact that they loved it! I wouldn’t say that all packaged foods are equally as bad, but they do have to have some type of preservative to prolong its shelf life. As it is possible to your budget, use all-natural and organic ingredients, including proteins, carbohydrates and vegetables. Your pets’ meals should be balanced and tailored to your pets underlying health issues or lifestyle. Preferably this should be done under the supervision of a veterinarian or pet nutritionist so that a radical dietary change doesn’t cause them stomach upset.
- Supplements: Adding a few supplements like Omega 3 oils, probiotics, milk thistle, B12, and vitamin D, can make a huge difference in your pets overall health. Supplements and vitamins should be carefully chosen in consultation with your veterinarian as they vary in dosage and effectiveness considering your pets’ health; if there is an underlying disease or condition that your pet is experiencing, you must proceed with caution. Do not buy 10 supplements and give them all at once; consider starting with one at a time so you can observe how your pet reacts to each individually.
- Outdoor Lifestyle: Add outdoor time with your pets [exercise, yoga, natural sun (vitamin D)] and give your pets the lifestyle you want for yourself. Take your pets on walks, runs, hikes, experience nature together, and enjoy life. This not only impacts your pets’ health in a positive way but it creates a bonding experience between you and your fur baby. All outdoor time should be thoughtful and appropriately considerate to your skill level and that of your pet, and put time into researching your adventures. Pay attention to the weather that its not too hot or too cold for your pet, be respectful of hiking trails that do not allow dogs due to disturbance of wildlife and their habitat, and always be prepared for any potential hazards that may present themselves along the way.
The fact is that all 3 of the (above) lifestyle changes can easily be applied to your life. If we change our eating habits, add in some supplements and increase our activity level we become healthier, stronger and increase our chances of living a longer, happier life.
If it works for us , why would it not work for our pets? Take off the stress by choosing just one of these at a time over a month, observing and keeping a journal of your observations and thoughts.
It is never too late to change our lifestyle and habits, and even if your pet is in its Senior years there is no reason you cannot start making changes now. Do it slowly and under the observation of a veterinarian. For outdoor experiences you can choose a backpack, a doggie pack or a pet stroller to maximize your pet’s enjoyment while minimizing the pressure on their bodies.
Sherman was a huge fan of the outdoors, a true nature appreciator. All the way until his last days with us we made sure he had plenty of fresh air and nature around him. The last 3 days of his life were spent at the beach, at the lake and on a hiking trail. The day he left this earth, we said goodbye at a park, outdoors under a blue sky.
We hope that after these life changes for your pets, they too will live a long, healthy and happy life just as Sherman did.