Had Your Dog Since 12? Keep Your Old Dog Healthy as They Grow With You
Let’s say you’ve had your dog since you were twelve. Throughout high school and college, he or she was your companion, your confidant. You’re all grown up now, and your dog is getting older and showing signs of slowing down. While your fur baby could have another several years of life left, there are some things you can do for senior dogs to make their golden years enjoyable. Read on for tips on how to keep your old dog healthy.
Age Is Both a Number and a Way of Life
A dog that is at least seven years old is considered a senior. There is a lot of truth to the notion that age is just a number. However, it is also a way of life. You should not consider your dog “too old” for activities and experiences. But you should be mindful of the critical considerations that need to be made for aging dogs, such as:
1. Be sure to continue regular veterinary care.
Most senior dogs require a check-up every six months or so, including evaluations of their nutritional needs and dental health monitoring.
2. Don’t assume that every change you see in your dog results from old age.
If you see any changes in his or her body, behavior, or mental state, it is worth it for both your peace of mind and your dog’s health to have him or her evaluated by a vet.
3. Continue to provide your senior dog with ample exercise.
It will help to prevent stiff joints. It will also stave off obesity, which can cause many health problems for your pet. Unfortunately, obesity is all too common in dogs and is the leading cause of disease. In addition, exercise such as walking can provide mental stimulation that can stave off boredom and alleviate anxiety. It’s no secret that dogs love to play and be active. However, the duration of the exercise you give your dog can decline as your dog ages. Care should be taken to avoid overdoing activity, as this can increase joint stiffness for dogs dealing with arthritis, hip dysplasia, and other common ailments that come with age.
4. Watch your dog’s diet.
As they age, dogs require around 20 percent fewer calories than they did in their younger years — or even fewer if the dog’s activity has also slowed down.
Your dog may also require additional nutrients as he or she ages. There are many healthy dog foods specially formulated for the needs of senior dogs. Talk to your vet about your dog’s dietary needs.
5. Supplements are available that can help keep your dog healthy and mobile.
Supplements are a great way to support your pup’s health and wellness as they age. Depending on your concern, most supplements are formulated to address specific concerns, including stress, joint health, mobility, digestive and immune health. When choosing a supplement brand, here are essential criteria to keep in mind:
- Made in the USA with US-sourced ingredients.
- Manufactured in facilities certified for good manufacturing practices.
- Formulated specifically for pets. Human supplements can contain additives that are dangerous to pets.
It’s a good idea to ask your vet about the types of supplements available for senior dogs, the benefits of those supplements, and which ones they recommend.
6. Consider the bedding you have provided for your dog and whether it is time to provide a bed that offers more support.
Memory foam dog beds are often recommended to keep your old dog healthy. They conform to the dog’s body and support joints, hips, and shoulders.
Household Hazards for Senior Dogs
As dogs age, their mobility can decline, along with their ability to see and hear. Additionally, the padding on their feet may not support their weight. The fat that pads their bodies may also decrease with age, causing them to get chilled easily.
If you have noticed these symptoms, it is likely time to begin ensuring that your home is safe for your aging dog. Some tips for avoiding household hazards that can result in injury and loss of the quality of life for your fur baby include:
1. If your dog likes to sleep on your bed or other furniture, provide a small ramp or a short set of steps so that he or she can climb onto it easily.
If your dog frequently travels in a car with you, a ramp should also be provided there. Dogs will often jump into the car well after they have reached the age when jumping is no longer a safe or regular part of their routine, simply because they do not want to be left behind.
2. Like humans, dogs can lose their balance as they age.
This can make it difficult to walk across hardwood or tile floors. Does your dog seem to be avoiding areas with this type of flooring? If so, then it may be because of this balance loss. Using area rugs on hardwood floors will help keep your old dog healthy by increasing overall comfort and security as he or she spends time with you in rooms that feature hardwood or tile flooring.
3. Arthritis flare-ups, loss of balance, and other health issues can cause stairs to become dangerous for senior dogs.
If your dog is struggling to get up or down the stairs or has already fallen on the stairs, it is time to block access to them when you’re not there to assist. You can do so quickly and relatively inexpensively by using a small gate such as those sold to prevent small children from accessing dangerous areas.
4. Routine is vital to keep your old dog healthy.
As your dog ages, his or her brain functioning begins to decrease due to a build-up of a protein called amyloid. This can cause him or her to become less able to adjust to changes. A consistent routine helps keep your old dog healthy by increasing their sense of security. Along the same line, avoid rearranging the furniture, as this can cause your dog to become confused.
Yes, Teach Them New Tricks
Despite the need to take precautions, senior dogs still need mental stimulation and affection. Yes, teach your old dog new tricks. It helps to keep his or her mind stimulated. It also provides that one-on-one bonding experience with you that makes dogs such wonderful companions.
Now is the time to pamper your pet. Warm up his or her food to release its aroma and make it more palatable, or find healthy treats or supplements. You can even learn how to massage your pet. This is a great bonding experience and can help with joint or muscle stiffness. Most of all, enjoy this time with your pet. As always, the love you provide your senior dog will be returned in a million different ways.