Food Therapy for Senior Pets – Updated

on February 24, 2016
Posted in Cats

 “When treating an illness, the first step should be dietary therapy.  Only when this is unsuccessful should one try drugs..”
–Sun Si Miao

Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine (TCVM) Food therapy is practiced by TCVM practitioners as another tool to help their patients along with acupuncture and herbal therapy.  Food therapy is used to treat specific health conditions, and to prevent disease. Homemade diets are the foundation of food therapy.

With senior pets the goals of treatment are to improve quality of life, slow progression of disease, and  help the body break down, digest and utilize as many vital nutrients as possible. For older animals, feed moderate amounts of food often–that is 2 or 3 times daily for most dogs and maybe more for cats.  Feed easily digested food.  This is not the time to start a raw diet as raw diets are more difficult to digest.  Food should be cooked or warmed, finely chopped, rich in nutrients (organic is best) and non processed. Soups and stews with added digestive enzymes and probiotics work well for these pets. Avoid pro-inflammatory foods such as raw peppers, broccoli, kale, and processed canned foods.Vegetables need to be cooked to tender crisp or your old pet will not absorb the nutrients.  Feed anti-inflammatory foods and supplements.  Lower the amount of meats in the diet and increase the higher biological value proteins–these are cold water fish, eggs, quinoa, and free range chicken. Increase Vitamin C foods such as strawberries and cranberries. These help with collagen generation–a tissue vital to the soft tissue of the body.  Add supplements of Omega 3 fatty acids and supplements to alleviate arthritis pain such as dandelion, turmeric, glucosamine, MSM.

Even if you can not home cook all the time for your pet you can supplement with things like soups  and stews to help with digestion and add green supplements and vitamins to help counteract processed food.  One of my favourites is a soup made with chicken bones called Marrow Soup.   The recipe is here:

Marrow Soup Recipe

This recipe is compliments of Dr Connie DiNatalie and is for old and recovering Senior Pets. It is great for recovery from illnesses for younger pets as well.

  • Roast an Organic Chicken in the oven at 375 until well cooked.  Add any veggies you like and some spices like Rosemary, Parsley, Sage or Thyme.
  • Remove the meat from the chicken bones–the caregiver can eat this with whatever veggies you also cooked.
  • Crack all the bones and place in a large soup pot and cover with water.  To the water add 1/4 cup of vinegar.  Carrots, celery squash and beets are acidifying and help draw minerals from the bones. You can add up to 1 cup of each.
  • Cook the bones over low heat for 4 to 8 hours.
  • Strain out the broth and throw away the bones and cooked vegetables.
  • Feed the broth to debilitated animals to restore health.
  • It can be frozen in ice cube trays and defrosted and warmed and added to other foods.



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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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