Tips For Slowing The Ageing Process Of Your Pet

Canine “science-based” research has classified over 80% of dogs, over the age of six, as geriatric. Rounding that figure out by human comparison, we end up with the ripe age of 42.


As a 46-year-old woman, I don’t think I’m ready to move into assisted living just yet.

Six or seven in dog years IS NOT old.

This reality has been created improper feeding, over vaccination, and other practices that don’t contribute to a dog’s vitality.

It is never too late to turn your dog’s health around so that they look healthy and vibrant at any age. With patience, fresh food and a wee bit of common sense and knowledge, you can help ensure your dog lives a long healthy life.

Months ago, I had the opportunity to put my foot in my mouth when I met a woman walking what I believed were two senior pugs. My definition of senior is over the age of 12.  I started talking in my “dog” voice and proceeded to say that I loved old pugs and that I currently had a 13 year old boy named Finnbar.

Her eyes promptly glazed over and became stern. She said, “my dogs are six and seven years old”.  Oops! Her pugs had dull coats and eys, boney hips and obvious arthritis.  I tried to back pedal and talk about the beautiful weather but my foot had already been inserted in my mouth so I decided to keep walking and wish her the best.

Finnbar, I had since he was a puppy.

When I was 29, I just started to explore giving animals nutrition the way I treated myself.  Unfortunately, I trusted the dog food kibble manufactures. I was critically misinformed.

He started out on a puppy specific dry dog food.  As a result, Finnbar’s face wrinkle was dirty, he snored and suffered from chronic breathing issues. After a year, I moved to an adult food and thought he was just a “pug” and we were just going to have to deal with his issues by taking him to the vet for steroids and antibiotics when things got out of hand.

Finnbar was young and at the age of four, developing arthritis. I decided to take a different approach and switch out his food to a fresh, home-made diet. We never looked back.  His arthritis went into remission, his wrinkles stopped getting infected, and he turned into a little healthy spud living to the ripe age of 16.

My nine-year-old pug, Francis glows.  She has shiny sleek hair, blue-black coat, bright eyes and puppy like behavior. My 13 year old pug, Finnbar is just starting to show age with a bit of white showing up on his chin and forehead. People always think Finn is between seven and eight years. I’m not bragging but I do have to say that healthy habits played a large part in having vibrant pugs.

When I rescued Francis, her skin looked like an elephant, gray and hairless. I gave Francis a home-cooked diet, herbs to help build her immune system and lots of love and patience. After she was stable, I switched her to a half home-cooked and half-raw food diet that helped me keep her chronic urinary issues from re-occurring.

What can you do to ensure your dog doesn’t get old before their time?

I’ve made a beginner’s list to get you started.


Health doesn’t happen overnight and you have to be patient.  Work with a holistic veterinarian to get started or a natural health practitioner.  If you can’t find one locally, use the Internet to help find someone to guide you. Check references and do your research to a qualified person.


The old cliché, water is life, is true. Tap, bottled and spring water all need to be filtered due to environmental contaminates. Heavy metals, cysts, pharmaceuticals, and chlorine are just the beginning and without a filter, they can affect your dog’s skin and organ health. Have your water tested to see what type of filter you need.  Avoid plastic whenever possible.


Everything you put in and on your dog should be checked for how that substance affects their toxic load. Basically, your dog’s toxic load is how many toxins they are carrying around in and on their body.  Aging is all about stress and toxic load.  You want to use products with minimal ingredients that you can read.  This includes shampoo, laundry detergent, scented candles, household cleaners, dog perfumes, lawn chemicals and floor treatments.


Food is medicine and the key to longevity. Feed as many fresh foods as you can and whole meat or whole food treats. If you must feed kibble, feed minimal ingredient dry dog foods from small companies that care.

Avoid ingredients like by-products, animal fat, corn, soy and wheat. Look for hidden sugar in foods like sugar beets and brewers rice. Add in pulverized veggies, eggs, and whole meats as much as you can. Work with a canine nutritionist to help put together a home cooked diet for your dog rich in enzymes, essential fatty acids and micronutrients.

There are many excellent books on canine diets that you can use to help feed your dog with the nutrition he needs.

Make changes gradually and do the best you can. Nutrition is achieved over time and keep improving as you go. I feed most of my dogs a raw diet.  However, my 15 year old gets a home cooked diet that is served warm.

Proteins should be rotated every two to three months to help reduce diet sensitivity as well as added enzymes and probiotics.  Enzymes are essential to digestion especially when dogs are eating dry or canned foods because they aren’t found in commercial diets due to the way they are processed. Cooking and extruding destroys the vitality in the ingredients.

Probitoics help balance the bacteria levels in the stomach which builds a healthy immune system and powerful digestion. They also help your dog fight off infections and avoid syndromes like leaky gut.

Avoid Antibiotics

Gut health is a key component to a functional digestive system from nose to tail.  Most antibiotics destroy the microbiome of the digestive tract. Each year, more than 125 million dogs and cats receive precautionary antibiotics.

This means, just in case we missed something. Many times, this component of conventional veterinary care, caused these same dogs and cats to start on a cycle of sickness that they can’t get off of.

I agree, antibiotics are needed when there is a life threatening infection, however, this means when they are necessary.  “Precautionary antibiotics” create sick and unbalanced bodies. This is the opinion of not only me but many scientists and holistic veterinarians throughout the world. For example, when vets prescribe antibiotics to avoid infection.

This doesn’t give the dog the chance to fight off an infection on his own. Antibiotics should be given when a dog has a verified infection not a chance they will get an infection.  The overuse of antibiotics have been linked to autoimmune disease, cancer, kidney disease, leaky gut syndrome and chronic ear infections.

Flea and Tick Treatments

Topical and internal flea and tick treatments are dangerous. I would avoid them and use natural methods to deter biting insects.

All prescription and many over-the-counter treatments are nothing more than toxic pesticides with side effects. These adverse reactions include: allergies, skin issues, premature ageing, skin disease, seizures, liver and kidney failure and death.  These treatments elevate your dog’s toxic load and cause the liver to congest and become sluggish.

Residue from the topical products can spread all over your home, via human-dog interaction, and wreak havoc on the entire household.  Fortunately, there are many natural flea and tick treatments like ultra-sonic and body resonance collars, essential oils flea and tick collars, safe lawn treatments, and diet adjustments that can be utilized. Don’t forget your simple but effective flea and tick comb.  I would never be without one.

Dogs are dying at unprecedented rates with statistics predicting that one out of every two dogs will die of cancer by the year 2020.  Dog are also suffering from diseases that my childhood vet never even heard of. This is a tragedy.

Dogs and people should be living vital lives. I remember at age 30, I never knew a person with cancer and now a decade and a half later, every person I know has been affected by cancer in one way or another.

The way we raise our dogs affects the rate of ageing. Feeding them a clean, fresh diet and using all-natural ingredients is a huge step towards having a vital dog. Vet care should be minimal and only when necessary.  It should also be preventative.

I highly recommend going to the vet once a year for a check-up like a worm test, tick-borne disease test and general once over to look at heart and lung function.  Vets are trained to see things we can’t. A blood panel or x-ray may also be needed.  I recommend them every couple of years after the age of 8.

Good health and vital ageing isn’t difficult, it is common sense when you really think about it.  What is happening on the inside is showing on the outside.

About the Author Rita Hogan

Rita Hogan is a canine herbalist and co-founder of Farm Dog Naturals, ( an herbal remedy company for the All-Natural Dog. Rita combines nature with her love for dogs by offering consulting that focuses on dogs as individuals: mind, body and spirit. Her practice incorporates herbal medicine, complementary therapies and environmental stewardship to help dogs and people find balance and partnership with nature.

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