We can’t stop the tick of time. It marches on no matter hard we dig in our nails and try to slow it down. Our animals get older, and we can’t change that. We can, however, change the commonly held belief that with aging comes an inevitable downward spiral into decaying health.
What is health?
What, actually, is health? It is not merely the absence of disease. As defined by the World Health Organization, health is complete physical, mental, and social well-being. This definition is no different for our animals.
Our animals don’t have to end their years with arthritis, disease, and cognitive dysfunction. With specific preventative strategies, our animals can be active/healthy, active/healthy, active/healthy; dead. Since forever is, sadly, not an option, what more could we want for our beloved furry friends?
the long game
Supporting our animals in a quest to be younger longer is akin to playing the long game. This method requires significant input throughout their lives. It requires diligence, time, effort, care, and even some money all along the way. The reward, and the ultimate goal, is more quality time with your companion. This is priceless, and a nice side effect is money saved in medical expenses toward the end.
If your approach is to live carelessly until disease strikes, then hope for the magical pill cure, the long game isn’t for you. That’s ok. It’s not for everyone. In fact, it’s not even for strict followers of mainstream, conventional veterinary medicine.
Veterinary preventative care often consists of a physical exam and vaccines. Diet recommendations include processed kibble from one of about three companies who market intensively to veterinarians. This may be adequate to achieve daily functioning for the short term, but it’s certainly a long way from supporting optimum health for the long term.
If chosen carefully and minimally, vaccines can be important, but far more than that is necessary to keep your animals younger longer. It requires a thoughtful, integrative approach to maintain true health.
To be most effective, preventative strategies should be tailored for breed, lifestyle, and individual variation. Here are 5 general, but indispensable, strategies to foster a longer, healthier, more active life for your pets.
1. Provide food variety. No single bag of kibble can provide optimum nutrition for life. Incorporate fresh foods like carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, green beans, and meat.
2. Feed a high quality, broad spectrum vitamin/mineral supplement daily for their entire lives.
3. By the age of 5 or 6, add omega 3 fatty acids and a joint supplement.
4. Evaluate gait and muscle symmetry annually (and following injury) so intervention with physical medicine modalities (acupuncture, chiropractic, rehabilitation) can prevent compensatory decline.
5. At the FIRST SIGN of any alteration in vitality (attitude, energy, digestion, allergies, lameness, etc.) incorporate herbal and botanical therapies to provide whole body support even if, and especially if, conventional medication is needed.
Wellness is buzzword in veterinary medicine. People are searching for optimum health for their animals but often are only finding guidance toward adequate, short term functioning.
Disease, arthritis, and cognitive decline are not inevitable in animal aging. With specific, targeted maintenance, they can bounce higher, run farther, and snuggle more comfortably at a ripe old age. This is wellness. If you engage in the long game, you will be rewarded with keeping your pet children younger longer.