Gray hair, creaky bones and lots of midday naps…aging happens to the best of us and our dogs are no exception. During this time, many of his basic needs, from diet to exercise, will begin to change. Dogs are very good at hiding their health problems so it’s our responsibility to keep an eye on our senior dogs to ensure that we’re adjusting his routine to match changes in his body and immune system. Routine exams, preventive medicine and adjustments to your dog’s lifestyle can help your pooch stay healthy even as the years creep up. These tips will help you understand what it takes to keep your senior dog happy and healthy for years to come
#5. Keep Active
Just because your dog is old in body doesn’t mean they are in mind! Your senior dog will still want to spend time with you. You might not go on backpacking trips or play frisbee as long as you used to, but keep tossing your pup’s favorite toy and going on walks as long as your dog can do so without pain. Being active will also help keep your dog’s body and mind functioning well. The more active they are, the healthier they’ll be.
#4. Increased Veterinary Care
As your dog ages, you’re likely going to be visiting your veterinarian more often. This is because so many ailments come with age. Joint pain and mobility issues, weakened immune systems and other age-related illnesses often set in during your dog’s senior years. You’ll also want to switch to regular check-ups more often if your veterinarian recommends it, as certain ailments such as cancers and organ diseases should be detected as early as possible.
#3. Weight Control
In the same way, your dog will need different nutrients in their senior years, they’re going to need different amounts of calories as well. Weight change is very common in senior dogs. They are either getting too many nutrients and calories and become overweight or are struggling to maintain a healthy weight because their muscles are weakening and they are becoming thinner. Work with your veterinarian to make sure your dog maintains the appropriate weight.
#2. More Beds
Senior dogs generally spend more time sleeping than their younger selves, so giving them some extra beds and blankets to lie on will be much appreciated. The softer the better, because as our dogs age, their bodies become stiffer with arthritis and hard surfaces will be painful to lie on.
#1. Diet Change
Just like people, a dog’s nutritional needs will change over time. Older dogs need different amounts of certain nutrients than young dogs and puppies, and they need less of others. Work with your veterinarian to decide which diet is best for your senior dog. You might not need to change your dog’s food, but you’ll likely change the amount and any supplements you’re giving them. At this age, proper dental health is vital, as your senior may already be suffering silently from periodontal disease.