As a responsible pet owner, looking after your dog properly through every stage of his or her life is part of the job description. As our dogs start to age, they tend to slow down and usually face issues with their health. This can be a sad and distressing situation, but luckily for you, there are many ways we can help our canine companions age gracefully. To help you along your journey, we have highlighted some of the main things you need to consider when you are caring for a senior dog. Just because they are old, it doesn’t mean that they have changed. Deep down, they are still the young pup you first fell in love with. When looked after well, you will still be able to see that playful, cheeky side to your pet; he/she may be a little slower and more gray, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t happy.
No matter how old your dog is, having a healthy diet is very important for their health. During their lifetime, you will learn what they like and dislike and how they store and retain their weight. As dogs get older, they slow down, can’t exercise as much, and their metabolism will slow down. This can lead to your dog gaining weight, which comes with a range of health issues. However, your dog’s eating habits can go the opposite way. Some dogs become fussier and less willing to eat with age. This can be due to bad or lack of teeth, being uncomfortable or just losing their appetite due to a bit of confusion or dementia. So, make sure you adjust your dog’s diet as they age, as it is important for their weight as well as other health conditions.
Exercising your dog is essential for good health. As your pet ages, the amount of exercise they can participate in will change. You should avoid hard, long walks on uneven surfaces as this can cause joint pain and stiffness. Dogs are very good at hiding pain, so you need to make sure you are careful not to push them too hard as they age. The best way to exercise your senior dog is to take them on short walks around 3-4 times a day. This keeps the weight off, allows them to rest in between outings, and keeps their joints from seizing up.
Regular Trips to the Vets
Even if your dog hates the vet, making sure you visit them at least every six months is a vital habit you should develop as your dog gets older. Regular health screens are crucial for detecting disease or illness early enough to treat it effectively. Routine tests will help your vet know what the normal levels are for your dog, which will make it easier for them to spot changes that may need treatment. As mentioned previously, many dogs are professionals at hiding their pain, but a vet will know whether they need treatment and they will also be able to advise you on ways to make them age more comfortably.
Increasing the amount of attention that you pay to your dog’s dental care is necessary as they age. This is another reason you need to see your vet often because they will be able to detect early development of dental disease and will be able to recommend ways for you to either stop it or improve it. The best way to improve your dog’s dental health is to provide them with raw, natural bones to chomp on. Not only is this a nice treat, but it is a very effective way to clean your dog’s teeth and freshen their breath.
There is a range of supplements available to help with the aging process of your dog. They help support joint mobility and flexibility and the function of your pet’s circulatory and digestive system. Although supplements aren’t essential, they are highly advised. They can have a great impact on your pet’s health and can ultimately lengthen their lifespan and make them more comfortable for longer. There are many natural products on the market that help to keep your dog calm, reduce inflammation, and support heart and brain health. One of these products is hemp dog treats. There are many other supplements in a treat, paste, and tablet form. To know what is best for your dog, speak to your vet.
The cute, puppy-like appearance of many dogs comes with long fur that needs to be maintained regularly. You should always make sure that your senior dog is well groomed. Not only will it make them more content, but it reduces the amount of time it takes during a grooming session. Also, dogs can become smelly in their old age. Grooming sessions can make older dogs uncomfortable due to having to stand for long periods of time and they can be stressful for some pets. Bathing your dog every 4 weeks, getting long-haired dogs fully groomed every 8 weeks, alongside brushing them on a daily/weekly basis is the best way to keep your dog well-groomed and comfortable. If you worry about a professional grooming your senior pet, you can try to take on the job yourself. If you decide to take that route, then make sure you do a lot of research and ask a professional for tips to reduce hurting your pet or ruining their coat.
Patience and showing compassion towards your older pet should not be underestimated as they age. With old age comes hearing difficulties, sight loss, and bathroom accidents. Senior dogs are especially attuned to their owners and will treasure their touch and presence. Having your voice, touch, and presence for their emotional well-being and mental health is essential. So, be patient and give them as much love as you possibly can. To summarize, you need to make sure you are sensitive to all changes that you will come across as your pet gets older. Even the most subtle change can indicate a significant health problem. So, be alert and speak to your vet if you are worried. Whatever you do, make sure you are there for them during the time they need you the most.