It can be difficult watching your senior dog age. Like humans, canines that grow old experience many challenges including osteoarthritis, heart disease, deafness, blindness, and others. Continuing to give your aging furry friend a high quality life is a beautiful gift for your companion after the many years of devotion and loyalty they’ve shown you. Here are 5 ways to help your senior dog enjoy a happy and healthy life.
Adjust Your Senior Dog’s Diet
A dog’s breed and size will help you determine their age, but most dogs are considered seniors at the age of 7 and above. With old age comes a different diet. Senior dogs require fewer calories than their younger friends and more supplementation. If you feed your dog a kibble diet, you might want to consider changing it to canned food. Canned food is easier to munch on for weakening teeth and gums. It tends to be healthier as well if you find the right products.
If you’re curious about raw vs. processed food you can check out our previous post on the topic. With any change in diet, make sure to research what is best for your dog and talk to your vet.
Supplements are another excellent option to investigate. According to one study, 80% of all senior dogs struggle with some form of osteoarthritis. Consider supplements containing Glucosamine, Chondroitin, and Omega-3 Fish Oil. These ingredients work together to strengthen your pup’s aching joints and ease discomfort. Other supplements you might want to look into include MSM, Turmeric, and Probiotics. Our product Hardy Hound Complete Joint Health (Include link to landing page) contains many of these ingredients and might be the perfect choice for your aging pup.
Another thing, getting a professional opinion from a vet will go a long way in ensuring your pup’s health and happiness. Certain behavior may not be because of old age, but may be due to pain or other problems. Fixing these issues may have your dog running around like they’re young again. Dogs are experts at hiding issues. You’ll have to pay attention to the little signs in order to help your pup.
Adjust Your Senior Dog’s Exercise
Old age will affect your dog’s senses and mobility. You may discover your pup has a harder time keeping up with you. They may be less interested in activities they used to do when they were younger. Going up the stairs and jumping on the bed might be a burden. Even if that’s the case, keeping your pup fit and healthy is vital to maintain their happiness and well-being.
Continue to take your dog on walks, but don’t force your pup to keep up with you. Let them sniff around and take breaks if they need to. Stick with familiar paths and shorten the route. A senior dog really only needs about 15-20 minute walks to stay happy and healthy.
Important Signs To Watch For
- Panting Excessively
- Lagging behind
If you notice any of these signs, take a break and then start making your way home.
Simply because they’re old, doesn’t mean you can’t play fun games with your dog, but you will need to make some adjustments. Be aware of how your pup feels after the fun. If a long session of fetch has your dog stiff and limping the next day, shorten the game. Games like tug-of-war need to be less intense to prevent muscle tears and other injuries. If the weather looks miserable, get some puzzle toys out. The mental exercise will work just as well as a physical work out.
Pay Attention To Your Senior Dog’s Needs
A senior dog has less control of their body temperature, less padding on their feet, and a thinner coat. If it’s cold outside, let them wear a sweater and boots. Make sure to dry them off completely if they get wet. You might want to consider buying an ergonomic bed that’s heated. Of course, this depends on your dog. Some dogs get hotter easier while others get colder. Also, when looking for a bed look for one that has a complete foam pad, not pieces. If your pup is bigger make sure to get a thicker bed that fully supports their aching joints.
Dogs that hesitate to go down the stairs and outside when it’s dark might be struggling to see. Make sure to turn on the lights to help them. Also, as your pup’s senses fade, avoid moving furniture around and having clutter on the floor. Your dog will have to rely more and more on memory in order to get around and any change may frighten and confuse them.
It might be painful now for your senior dog to jump. Consider buying adjustable ramps and stairs. These can be used for getting into the car, on the couch, on your bed, etc. You could also purchase a sling to help you carry your pup. Also, slippery floors can be a real hazard for your senior dog. Consider buying some non-slip rugs for these problem areas.
Continue To Teach Your Senior Dog Tricks
You really can teach an old dog new tricks. Motivate your pup to continue their repertoire of parlor tricks and expand from there. Try something new! A simple internet search can provide a mountain of ideas you can teach your dog like training them how to put their toys away.
Just remember to be patient and understanding. Your dog won’t be able to perform like they used to, but that shouldn’t discourage you or your pup. When training, keep these things in mind:
- Keep training sessions short
- Understand your pup’s limits
- If you see signs of stress or exhaustion (yawning, ears drooping, boredom) cease and desist for the day
Your pup will love the attention and enjoy learning more things.
Have a Doggie Play Date
Your dog may not be able to keep up with a younger pup’s antics, but that doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate the fun. You may also find that another dog can energize your companion. Invite some doggie friends over and watch the excitement unfold.
Again, this depends on your pup. Some senior dogs will grow impatient and irritable with a younger’s energy and enthusiasm. Pay attention and make sure things don’t escalate and stress out your furry companions.
Something To Keep In Mind About Your Senior Dog
Roughly over 55% of all dogs suffer from obesity. As mentioned previously, your senior dog will have a harder time moving around and being motivated over time. Because of this, senior dogs are far more likely to grow obese which causes major damage to the heart, liver, joints, etc. Keeping your pup at a healthy weight will increase their chances of living a longer, happier, and energy filled life.
Old age shouldn’t keep your senior dog from enjoying their golden years. Continuing to do these simple things will go a long way in helping your pup. They’ll love the attention and appreciate your patience as they continue to age.
We’d love to hear from you! What ways have you helped your senior pup embrace their golden years?