As our dogs age, we have to make adjustments to the type of care we provide for our senior pet in order to keep them healthy and living their life to the fullest. Dogs are known as senior citizens when they hit about 7 years old, but remember that the larger the dog, the faster they age!
Here are some tips to help you keep your senior dog healthy and live their life to the fullest in their golden years.
READ MORE: 9 THINGS YOU SHOULD DO WITH YOUR SENIOR DOG
Consider switching your pet to a senior diet. Many older pets benefit from higher fibre and reduced calories, especially since their energy level might decrease. A good senior food is formulated for this life stage and they won’t need the same calorie dense diet or vitamins and minerals that a younger adult may need. Other senior pets have issues keeping weight on, or may have a disease that can be controlled through proper diet. Talk to your vet to get recommendations on good age appropriate diets.
Although your pet may be slowing down, it is important that they still get their exercise both mentally and physically. Although your senior dog may not be able to run a marathon with you, other low impact activities, such as swimming, are great alternatives to make sure your dog stays active and keeps off the weight without putting stress on their sore joints.
Physical exercise is important, but mental exercise is too! Keep your geriatric pet occupied with interactive toys, and don’t be afraid to teach an old dog new tricks. Games like these will help keep your old guy’s memory sharper and more keen as age takes over.
3. Healthy Weight
Now is the time to really pay attention to your dog’s weight. Obesity is one of the most common issues and for older pets, make sure you keep a close eye on their weight and ensure they are not losing or gaining too much. Weight gain puts stress on the joints that are already sore from age. Ask your vet to do a body score condition every time you happen to walk by and make sure you aren’t over or under feeding them.
4. Check Ups
Health care is even more important when your pet is older. For geriatric pets, it is recommended they go to the vet every six months to ensure there are no changes in blood work. Any lumps should be checked out, as well as any changes in behavior. Something that may seem simple, like a dog occasionally urinating in the house, could potentially take a turn for the worse. Changes in blood work can indicate underlying diseases that can be fixed if caught early. Remember, it is easier to prevent a disease than cure it!
5. Dietary Supplements
Older pets can develop issues such as arthritis and sore joints. There are many commercial joint supplements out there that have Glucosamine and Chondroitin that are proven to help joint mobility. Other supplements like Omega-3 fish oil are great for dry skin and can help the coat remain lustrous. Talk to your vet about which supplements are good for your pet.
6. Assistance Around the home
There are many ways to help your dog around the house. Some dogs, especially larger breeds, are unable to grip well on non-carpeted floors. Consider getting floor runners, booties, or toe nail grips to help them. If your dog has joint issues avoid making your dog climb stairs and keep everything on the same floor. If your dog likes to sleep in your bed (and you let them), consider getting a small staircase or ramp to help them get up without potentially injuring themselves. Ramps are also great ideas for cars.
7. Let Your Dog Sleep Well
Sleep is important for any dog, especially your senior. Soft blankets and towels allow them to rest easier and sleep better. There are even special orthopaedic beds that provide extra support for aging joints, and some can be outfitted with heat or vibrations which increase circulation and reduce stiffness.
Your best friend is the same friend as they always were. They just need a little bit of extra care. With these tips and the help of your veterinarian, expect many more great years ahead!
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