A dog is for life, not just for Christmas.
Anyone who’s had the joy of welcoming a puppy into their family will know the pure joy these animals can bring. But even if your dog will always be your fur-baby, they don’t remain puppies forever! And, just like humans, your dog’s requirements can change with age.
Below, we’re going to look at the best ways to care for an older dog, so you can provide your beloved pet with the love, care, and attention they deserve.
Your pets’ appetite and tastes may change as they grow older. This can occur for multiple reasons, including stress, illness, or dental problems. Ensuring your pup has a nutritional and varied diet is key to keeping them happy and healthy for as long as possible.
Look for dog food specifically made to promote digestive and dental health in senior dogs. These are likely to be lower in calories and fat and be more comfortable to chew.
Speak to your vet about the dietary requirements for your aging dog and consider supplements such as:
- Extra omega fatty acids for combatting skin and joint issues
- Cranberry-infused supplements for urinary problems.
Even if your dog is slowing down, this doesn’t mean they no longer need regular walks and exercise. Keeping your dog active has loads of benefits, including:
- Easing chronic symptoms
- Keeping muscles supple and strong
- Improving mood
- Minimizing anxiety
- Stimulating appetite
- Preventing obesity
- Reducing behavioral issues such as barking, digging, or chewing
Try taking alternative routes on your daily walks to stimulate your pup’s imagination and give them plenty of new things to sniff at. Shorter walks might be necessary if your dog is slowing down, and you should always keep an eye on their breathing and gait as an indicator of whether they need a rest.
Just like their bodies need exercise, dogs of all ages also require mental stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Mix up your walks to keep your dog’s mind active and invest in mentally stimulating toys like treat puzzles.
You could also teach your old dog new tricks!
Contrary to popular belief, dogs are still perfectly capable of learning new things in their older age. Reward them with their favorite nutritional treats for a job well done.
No matter how old your dog is, they’ll always be eager to please! Allowing them to show off can help combat boredom and even illnesses such as dementia.
Studies suggest that over 80% of pets aged 3+ have some form of dental disease. These diseases can cause significant pain to your pup, in addition to eating difficulties and bad breath. They can also have more sinister implications, including cardiac disease, kidney or liver issues, and infections.
Brushing your dog’s teeth might not be an especially fun task, but it is vital for ensuring the health of your beloved pet. You can also offer your pup treats developed to promote good oral health. Speak to your vet about maintaining your aging dog’s dental health.
As your pup ages, you’ll likely have to start taking more regular trips to the vet to monitor their wellbeing. To avoid emergencies, you should take your pup for regular (yearly) blood work to ensure they have a reliable baseline. This makes monitoring small changes far easier and offers a better chance to spot serious issues early on.
Even if your pet isn’t crying out in pain and maintains normal eating and drinking routines doesn’t necessarily mean they’re fit and healthy.
As our pets age, muscles can stiffen, and joint issues can start to creep in.
- “Senior-proofing” your home is a great way to show your dog you care and ensure they remain a part of the family:
- Keep food and water bowls somewhere easily accessible
- Watch for deteriorations in their hearing/sight/smell
- Carry them to/from the car when needed
- Install dog ramps (like these ones: https://chasingtails.store/products/dog-ramp-for-bed) so they can get to their favorite spots without hurting themselves.
Every dog is unique and special, and as their owner, you are the best person in the world to notice how their behaviors and bodies change as they age. Notify your vet of any changes early on to give them a chance to deal with any potential issues before they arise.
Your dog has given you years of love and affection. Their golden years are the perfect time to give back!