Tips for Taking Care of a Senior Dog
Ageing is a natural part of life but witnessing our dogs getting old is a tough pill to swallow. At some point, we have to face the fact that our furry companions are going to leave us; therefore, it’s crucial to make their senior years as comfortable and joyful as possible.
If you learn how to take care of your senior dog properly, they’ll get to spend their golden years happy and healthy. It’s important to notice the first signs of ageing and take necessary precautions to keep your pet physically and mentally active.
To help you do that, we have prepared a couple of tips and tricks you might find useful.
Old dogs need an appropriate diet
Older dogs require a balanced diet because they are at risk of developing obesity since they no longer have the same energy level. It’s crucial to find the best dog food specifically designed for senior canines.
This dog food has fewer calories and is low in fat, which is great for older dogs because it prevents them from gaining weight. Considering senior canines experience different health conditions, it’s best to consult a vet about what type of food your older dog needs.
Make sure your senior dog has enough exercise
Regular exercise will ensure your pet has an ideal weight while having a beneficial impact on their overall health. Depending on your dog’s condition, you might need to start building their stamina with light jogs and regular walks.
As canines age, their energy level decreases. If they could run for half an hour before, that might not be the case now. You could ask your vet to recommend you the right set of exercises or an exercise program.
Start giving them senior dog supplements
In addition to diet and exercise, supplements play an important role in maintaining your dog’s overall health. For instance, you could start giving them dog arthritis supplements which are loaded with glucosamine and chondroitin and great for joints or dog liver treats to support their liver function. Nowadays, supplements for skin and coat and probiotics for digestive health are very popular.
Supplements can make a big difference in your pet’s health if they are consumed regularly. Most of the time, you can add them to their regular meal. But before starting this practice, determine what supplements your pet needs.
Visit vet regularly
Regular vet care is essential when it comes to senior dogs. As your pet ages, its immune system gets weaker, making them prone to many ailments. That’s why many veterinarians recommend semi-annual checkups.
If something is wrong with your dog, this gives you a chance to act on time and offer your pet the best possible treatment.
Don’t neglect oral health
It’s not uncommon to see senior dogs missing a couple of teeth, which means they didn’t have proper dental care during adulthood. Dental hygiene is an important part of their grooming and it needs to be performed regularly from a young age.
Did you know that ageing dogs tend to suffer from gum diseases and ruptured teeth, which is a painful and serious condition that requires vet help?
So if you want your dog to have healthy teeth, you need to wash them every day. Focus on a gum line and apply a brush at a 45-degree angle to scrub the plaque. If your dog isn’t a fan of teeth brushing, you should introduce them to dental treats. Don’t forget to take your canine to professional teeth cleaning once a year.
Don’t neglect any signs of discomfort
Dogs aren’t able to articulate their thoughts, so it’s our job as their caregivers to notice any signs of distress. Sometimes limping, jumping or having difficulties climbing the stairs might seem harmless or such behaviour could indicate dog arthritis. We suggest taking your dog to the vet if you notice these signs.
Invest money in a heated or an orthopedic bed
A heated or orthopedic bed could serve as a great arthritis treatment for dogs. Restful, pain-free sleep is crucial for older dogs and could help reduce pain and improve their quality of life. Heated dog beds may help senior canines with joint problems and stiffness.
They come with a built-in heater that matches your pet’s natural body temperature. You could get a heated mat or a pad and place them into your dog’s bed for a similar effect.
Consider using a support sling
If your ageing dog has mobility issues, it’ll most likely need a dog support sling or a specifically designed dog harness. For canines that really struggle to get up, sometimes using a dog sling can help them get back on their feet.
Some models include a handle, so you can easily assist your pet. These types of products facilitate walking, going to the bathroom, climbing the stairs or getting into the car.
Protect your dog from parasites
Regardless of how old your dog is, they aren’t immune to fleas, lice, ticks and worms. They require proper protection. You could also vaccinate your pet and the good news is that senior dogs don’t need vaccines at the same intervals. But you should talk to your vet because this mostly depends on your dog’s individual needs.
Spend some quality time with your dog
Ageing is a perfectly normal thing, but at the same time, it’s painful and difficult not only to accept but to witness. Your beloved dog will go through many changes and the best thing you can do is cherish all those moments you get to spend with your pet.
Senior dogs tend to be particularly sensitive if they don’t sense their owner is nearby. This makes them anxious and terrified. So we advise spending as much time as possible with your pet.
Explore the world together
As your dog becomes older, the quality time you spend with them becomes even more priceless. Now is the right time to give your pet new sounds, smells and sights to explore by engaging in adventures together.
Get them in your car and check out the closest forest, park or beach you normally tend to skip. Older dogs often have trouble walking, so it might be a good time to start giving them senior dog joint supplements. They might help with mobility and ensure you two experience many more adventures.
Prevent dog kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease in dogs is linked to ageing and some of the first signs are increased water consumption and urination. Since nearly two thirds of a kidney needs to be destroyed to notice the earliest signs, having regular vet checkups is crucial.
You could start giving your pet urinary supplements to optimise their kidney function and help prevent chronic kidney disease.
Groom your pet regularly
If your dog once had a shiny-looking and luxurious coat, now it’s probably dull and brittle due to ageing. You will notice that senior dogs often suffer from irritated, flaky and dry skin, which can become worse if it’s not properly groomed.
This means your dog requires regular brushing and timely haircuts to avoid the development of tangles and mats. You should use mild shampoos that are gentle on your pet’s skin and coat. Make sure to take them to a professional groomer occasionally.
Update your home
Remember the time when you had to puppy-proof your home? Well now things have changed and you will need to optimise your living space to fit the needs of your senior dog. Some ideas include installing pet stairs near their favourite piece of furniture or placing rugs on slippery surfaces like wood and tile.
Your goal here is to help your dog feel comfortable and safe as much as possible while allowing them to maintain independence even in their senior years.
Keep your pet’s mind sharp
To keep your dog’s mind sharp, you need to play mind games with them. For example, you can play the “find game” where you hide treats around the house and issue a command “find”, while your dog runs around and uses its nose to find all the treats.
These games offer great mental stimulation, especially when some senior dogs tend to suffer from cognitive dysfunction. You could also try puzzle toys to challenge your pet’s mind.
Show your dog lots of love
Give your dog plenty of love because your time with them is limited. Spending time together, even if it means cuddling on the couch, will make your senior dog happy.
As long as you follow some of the tips we mentioned in this article, your pet will have no problem living their best senior years. Keeping your pup comfortable and pain-free while offering tons of love is what really matters.