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Senior Nutrition and herbal support, an holistic case study

Senior health holistic case study

Teddy bear Jr, otherwise known as TJ, is a lovable 10 year old border collie who loves life on the farm, alongside adventures in the bush as well as fun and games on the agility field. His active lifestyle along with his senior progression is now taking its toll with a little weight gain and general slowing down evident. A Holistic case review aims to improve TJ's current strength and fitness as well as supporting his long-term strength, fitness and mobility for continued quality of life as he enjoys his senior years.

Health and fitness concerns

At a recent agility event TJ was easily irritated indicating a rest from competition was in order, although he wasn’t injured or in any pain, his irritability may be a sign of general physical discomfort and should not be ignored. Although TJ is in good general health it's important to rectify his calorie intake/output balance as continued weight gain will place additional stress on his body and contribute to premature ageing. As part of his agility training TJ has a specific conditioning program to support his continued strength and mobility, naturally it becomes more difficult to maintain this fitness as the body ages and ultimately TJ has been experiencing a loss of muscle tone, strength, mobility and of course fitness.

Health concerns

Providing support for TJ’s overall health and fitness was recommended before deciding on whether his seasonal break from agility should transition into retirement from the sport.

Senior Nutrition & Herbal support

raw diet composition

Like many of today's dog's TJ was initially weaned from his mum onto a diet of processed kibble, unfortunately suffering terrible allergies within days of arriving in his new home. Since those difficult first few days he was has been raised on a balanced raw diet with special care to avoid triggering his allergies. This is an ideal diet for him although some additional nutritional and herbal support will better tailor the diet to his senior needs.

Senior Nutrition

I recommended the provision of Green lipped mussels (Perna canaliculus), a valuable nutritive food which may be used fresh or in dried form as a dietary supplement and ideal for those needing additional joint or skeletal support. Indicated for a range of conditions such as osteoarthritis, this wonderful mollusc is particularly effective for improving joint mobility and function, easing stiffness, inflammation and general discomfort. With a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids it also provides valuable support for the brain and cardiovascular system.

Senior Herbal Support

Herbs provide a concentrated form of nutrients with many varied medicinal actions. For TJ we chose Curcuma longa (Turmeric) and Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) for maximum musculoskeletal support.

turmeric benefits

Curcuma longa (Turmeric) is an herb used widely by many although the reasons may not be so commonly known. Curcuma longa is hepatoprotective, it protects the liver cells from damage, increases bile flow from both the liver and gall bladder, as well as improving both digestive and liver functions. All valuable actions in our aim to detoxify and heal the body. In addition to this cleansing action Curcuma longa is also indicated for arthritis and similar conditions, with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties it aids joint mobility and improves comfort.

To improve the absorption of the medicinal compound it's best prepared as a paste, combined with water, coconut oil and black pepper.

Turmeric paste recipe

Withania somnifera

Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) is a valuable adaptogen and major tonic to counteract ageing promoting health, increased energy and youthful longevity. A valuable nervine tonic in addition to its general anti-aging tonic actions it is valuable in cases of fatigue, stress or nervous exhaustion and is useful to elevate TJ's 'mood'. Additionally, it provides valuable musculoskeletal support, indicated for general muscle weakness.

Senior fitness

Whilst TJ takes a break from agility training and competition it's important that he maintain other appropriate forms of exercise to support his strength and mobility. Avoiding fast activities which pose a risk of injury, instead, focusing on slow controlled movements and mental stimulation. For TJ this means increasing the time spent on his other favourite pastime, tracking the movements of bunnies and other critters on the farm with lots of nose down, walking and clambering amongst the trees and long grass.

Holistic plan

14-day review

Although we started with a fairly healthy outlook for TJ we can see his improving condition, with a little more sheen and softness to his coat. His nutrition and general health has obviously improved with energy levels increasing and a small reduction in his weight also evident.

Behaviourally TJ experienced a significant boost in his energy levels, mood and movement with his general demeanour improving within a couple of days of the new protocol. After approximately 10 days on the new protocol his improvement plateaued suggesting the current protocol was beneficial but for sustained improvements further support was needed. His current formulation was adjusted to allow for increased herbal tonic support but as part of a wider detoxification formula. For our seniors our detoxification protocol supports the elimination pathways and reduces the build-up of toxins which can cause premature ageing and disease.

For TJ we chose Arctium lappa (Burdock root) and Urtica dioica (Nettle leaf) to support the Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Curcuma longa (Turmeric) he was already receiving.

Arctium lappa

Arctium lappa (Burdock root) is a valuable alterative herb, useful in restoring function to organs and systems within the body. Selected for its affinity with the lymphatic and urinary systems, it not only relieves congestion of the lymphatic system but also tones the kidney and bladder, improving function and aiding the elimination of toxins and other waste products.

Urtica dioica

Urtica dioica (Nettle leaf) is a useful cleansing and detoxifying herb which combines anti-allergy and tonic actions r the circulatory and urinary systems. This wonderful herb is particularly useful when kidney function is poor with fluid retention present, assisting kidney function and providing a cleansing, detoxifying function through its diuretic action

Revised holistic plan

Detoxification is a gentle process which takes an initial six weeks to complete, at which time the herbs dosage is steadily reduced over the following six weeks, completing the cycle by week 12 with the elimination pathways strengthened and the body cleansed.

28-day review

In just a few short weeks TJ has returned to his joyful active self with greatly improved energy levels engaging in lots more active play. So much so he now tends to forget his age and overdo things when excitedly playing with a friend or adventuring meaning a moderation of exercise is still needed but very differently to that of a month ago. Managing our dogs’ exercise and general activities supports their ongoing mobility, strength, and fitness well into their senior years for maximum quality of life.

Today’s weigh-in showed that TJ had returned to his lean competition weight which was very pleasing. His weight and diet will need to be monitored to ensure his meals match his energy levels, but for now a little extra in his bowl coupled with regular weigh-ins will maintain his current weight nicely.

TJ has responded well to the Urtica dioica (Nettle leaf) and Arctium lappa (Burdock root) used to gently detoxify the body with an observable increase in the dilution and volume of urine output. The hidden actions of drawing toxins and excess fluid from the tissues evident from his improved mobility and comfort. Administration of these herbs will continue for the full 6 weeks before reducing.

So where to now

Mentally TJ has returned to his joyful active self, ready to play and adventure whenever the opportunity arises, a great improvement in just four short weeks. Physically TJ is still a senior boy, this means his activity should be managed 24/7 to ensure he is able to enjoy these fun activities well into the future. Continuing to supplement his diet long term with green lipped mussels, Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha) and Curcuma longa (Turmeric) will provide valuable ongoing daily support to maximise his strength fitness and mobility.

TJ will return to the agility ring next month for a couple of fun events but has definitely earned his retirement.The decision to retire a competing sport dog can be one of the toughest, the bond created through working as a team is truly special, filled with many special moments, it is with love and compassion that TJ transitions into this next chapter of his life ensuring he is able to enjoy a fit and active retirement.


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