Review Article| Volume 42, ISSUE 4, P769-791, July 2012

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Nutritional Care for Aging Cats and Dogs

      According to pet owners, most pets, even senior pets, are healthy or generally healthy and do not require therapeutic diets.
      • Lund E.M.
      • Armstrong P.J.
      • Kirk C.A.
      • et al.
      Health status and population characteristics of dogs and cats examined at private veterinary practices in the United States.
      • Laflamme D.P.
      • Abood S.K.
      • Fascetti A.J.
      • et al.
      Pet feeding practices among dog and cat owners in the United States and Australia.
      But, all pets must eat. And, despite an increase in the influence of the internet, veterinarians remain the top resource for pet owners for information regarding pet health and nutrition.
      • Laflamme D.P.
      • Abood S.K.
      • Fascetti A.J.
      • et al.
      Pet feeding practices among dog and cat owners in the United States and Australia.
      Therefore, veterinarians need to be prepared to provide nutritional advice for healthy pets as well as for pets that are ill. This is especially true for senior pets, due to their unique needs. This article is designed to provide guidance for nutritional assessment of aging pets, with information about feeding healthy older pets as well as addressing some common age-related, nutrient-sensitive conditions in senior dogs and cats.
      • Before prescribing a dietary change in any patient, a nutritional evaluation should be completed to include assessment of the patient, the current diet, and feeding management.
      • Body condition score to assess body fat and muscle score to assess muscle atrophy are key indicators of nutritional and health status in senior pets.
      • Cognitive dysfunction is a common condition in aged pets and may respond to dietary management with antioxidants and alternative energy sources, as well as environmental and behavioral enrichment for mental stimulation.
      • Multimodal management of osteoarthritis includes a combination of weight management, physical therapy, diet including long chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids from fish oil, other nutraceuticals, and pharmaceutical agents.
      • Obesity is associated with increased oxidative stress, inflammation, and insulin resistance, which contribute to a number of health problems.
      • Weight loss can be achieved in most pets by creating a negative energy balance and is best achieved using diets with low calorie density, increased protein content, and an overall increased nutrient:calorie ratio.


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