As your furry companion grows older, they may face age-related health issues, including mobility problems, reduced vision or hearing, and arthritis. The needs of an aging dog may differ from those of a young one or a middle-aged one. Therefore, it’s important to be able to adjust your approach to continue providing them with a happy life. There are some care and attention that you can give to your furry friend to assist them with aging comfortably. In this article, we will share some tips on how to cope with an old dog and ensure that they are living their best life. The following actions will help keep your furry pal adaptive, comfortable, and well-cared for. We hope that this post will help you keep your senior dog healthy, happy, and comfortable throughout their retirement years of life.
1. Provide proper nutrition
A well-balanced diet is crucial for maintaining a senior dog’s health. Older dogs need fewer calories but more vitamins, minerals, and protein. Not feeding enough can cause unintended weight loss, which may lead to more health problems. It’s important to choose premium quality dog food that caters to their changing nutritional needs.
What to look for in their diet
- Incorporate high-quality protein that comes from animal sources such as fish, chicken or lamb
- Feed them a diet with lower calories but high in fiber
- Add supplements such as Glucosamine or Omega-3 fatty acids to Arthritis-prone dogs
2. Frequent Veterinary Check-ups
As dogs age, they need frequent veterinary check-ups at least two times a year. By doing so, your vet can keep tabs on potentially severe health conditions and treat them in their initial stages. With a physical exam, they can quickly assist in preventing or managing age-related diseases.
The Examination Covers:
- Dental care
- Heart and lung examination
- Bloodwork and urine tests
- Skin irritations
3. Keep them physically active
Age should never be a reason to let your dog be a couch-potato. Senior dogs still need to keep up with exercise, although it might look a bit different than when they were younger. Exercise helps them maintain a healthy weight, reduces stiffness from arthritis, and energizes them. However, they don’t need high-intensity exercises. It is better to go easy with exercises but frequently.
How can you modify exercise to suit your older dog?
- Short, gentle walk
- Short outings in the yard or park
4. Ensure their Environment is comfortable
An older dog may need special accommodations to live comfortably. In the long term, it is best to get modifications to improve their daily experience. Evaluate their surroundings to determine areas that need a few changes, such as providing a comfortable place to sleep. It’s essential to consider their weak limbs, the area they sleep, and whether food and water are easily accessible for them.
Ways to create a comfortable environment for your old dog
- Design a comfortable place for rest
- Keep their bed away from cold drafts
- Provide non-slip mats for their comfort
5. Keep their brain active
The tendency for senior dogs to become disoriented and forgetful is normal. However, proper mental stimulation helps reduce dog anxiety and boredom. Keeping their brain active to prevent cognitive decline can be as simple as playing games, showing affection and keeping them engaged. Some senior dogs may even enjoy a game of ‘find it” or interactive puzzles.
Here are some ways you can keep your dog’s mind active:
- Teach them new tricks
- Engage in interactive games and puzzles
- Provide new toys for them to figure out
6. Maintain a clean environment
Older dogs are more susceptible to illnesses due to their weak immune system. A clean environment helps reduce bacteria and the spread of diseases. It’s crucial to maintain a clean environment, which means regularly cleaning up after them and keeping areas with fewer bacteria clean.
Tips to maintain a clean environment for your old furry friend:
- Clean, fresh water that’s regularly replenished
- Proper grooming and bathing
- Regular cleaning of bedding and blankets
7. Provide good dental hygiene
Oral hygiene is more important for senior dogs as their teeth and gums are more susceptible to infections. Poor dental hygiene can lead to heart problems, liver or kidney issues. Brush your dog’s teeth frequently and keep an eye out for bad breath or red gums. More frequent vet checks are essential to monitor dental issues.
Things to do to assist them in maintaining dental hygiene:
- Brush regularly to remove plaque and prevent tartar
- Provide dental toys and chews designed to clean their teeth
- Schedule routine dental check-ups with your vet
8. Adjust to the way your old dog may be behaving
As dogs age, they can develop new behavior or change from their usual behaviour. They may become anxious, fearful, or act differently. Keep an eye on changes in their behaviour as it can indicate some health issues or pain.
Some of the common behavioural changes:
- Excessive barking or whining
- Disruptive sleep patterns
- Change in appetite
- Increased anxiety when left alone
9. Watch for health problems and respond correctly
Never overlook any health problems, whether big or small. It’s crucial to promptly respond to a medical issue to prevent it from getting worse. Take note of your pet’s symptoms and keep their veterinarian updated with any changes in behavior, eating habits or physical conditions.
Examples of health problems to watch out for
- Arthritis or stiff joints
- Urinary incontinence
- Chest infections or breathing problems
- Chronic diseases
10. Treat them to some TLC
Treating your old dog with some Tender Loving Care is a great way to make them feel appreciated and loved. Older dogs become more sensitive and require more attention, love, and care from their owners. Spend quality time with them, show them affection, or give them a massage.
Here are some ways to give your pooch the TLC they deserve:
- Organize a cozy place for cuddling up with them
- Gently massage their stiff limbs
- Feed them their favorite treat or food
As dogs age, they may encounter health issues that require special care and attention. By following these tips, you can make life more comfortable, healthier, and happier for your furry friend even in their senior years. Remember to keep your dog’s nutritional needs in mind, keep them mentally and physically active, maintain a clean environment, and provide the necessary pain relief to them to help them live their best life!
- Q: How can I tell if my dog is in pain?
- A: You can check for signs such as limping, licking a specific area excessively, whining, being restless or resistant, or sudden aggression.
- Q: Can I continue to provide vaccinations to my senior dog?
- A: Yes, it’s still essential to give them vaccinations, but talk to your vet about the best approach as they’re more susceptible to adverse reactions
- Q. When should I consider euthanizing my senior dog?
- A: Consult your veterinarian before taking a decision since they will evaluate the dog’s pain threshold and living experience, the quality of life, and the animal’s age.
ASPCA, (2021). Caring for Senior Dogs California. American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, (2021). Caring for Your Older Dog. Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.
Smith, T. (2020). How to Care for Your Senior Dog. American Kennel Club.