Is your dog approaching seniority? Like humans, the needs of pets can evolve as they age and begin to enter their golden years. As a pet owner, it’s your responsibility to understand what those needs are and make sure that your dog continues to enjoy a great quality of life even in their twilight years. Here are a few tips on how you can do just that:
Switch to Low-Impact Activities
Joint degradation is one of the most common signs of aging in senior dogs. They become less mobile as they grow older, and you may notice that they have more trouble moving around due to stiffness and pain. However, it’s still important to keep both their body and mind engaged to sharpen their senses. Fill up some dog treat bags and use snacks to teach them new tricks, play foraging games, or give them food puzzles that they can enjoy while lying down comfortably.
Maintain a Manageable Exercise Routine
Though they may not be as energetic as they used to be, older dogs will definitely benefit from having a regular exercise routine. You just have to make a few necessary adjustments to take their mobility and activity level into account.
Generally speaking, senior pets will inevitably have difficulties keeping up with intense exercises such as long-distance running, jogging, or hiking. However, they’ll still enjoy the occasional casual stroll around the block, especially if you give them more time for scenting. Walks will help prevent muscle atrophy, but you have to understand that they won’t be able to go for as long or as far as they used to. Instead, switch to shorter, slower, and more frequent walks, which will give them just the right amount of daily exercise that they need without overexerting them.
If you’re looking for an alternative to walking, swimming is another great low impact exercise for elderly pets. Being in the water allows them to maintain their muscle tone without exerting any stress on the joints. The activity is especially beneficial for dogs that suffer from age-related degenerative conditions such as arthritis as well as hip or elbow dysplasia.
Keep an Eye on Their Diet
Most pet owners tend to feed their dogs one or two big meals each day, and maybe inclined to keep up that routine even as their pet enters the age of seniority. However, it might be a good idea to re-examine that choice and take your elderly pooch’s decreased activity level into account when it comes to feeding.
Truly, it can become all too easy to overfeed your pet when they aren’t burning off as many calories as they used to. Experts agree that senior dogs do better with multiple smaller meals throughout the day, as this can help prevent bloat and other digestive issues.
Additionally, you’ll also want to have a look at the food that you’re feeding them. Consider switching your dog to a high-fiber and low-fat diet, which will help promote healthier anal gland function. This type of diet will also keep their weight at a manageable level, preventing mobility issues further down the line.
Modify Their Environment
Simply getting up and moving around can be a monumental challenge for senior dogs. Fortunately, there are plenty of things that you can do to help make your home safer for them. That said, here are a few home improvement projects and items you may want to consider:
- If your aging pets are struggling to access their favorite areas due to joint or muscle pain, installing ramps or stairs can be a great help to them.
- An extra comfortable orthopedic bed can do wonders for your pooch’s aching joints and muscles. Add a blanket and make sure to keep it somewhere climate-controlled, as older dogs do not take too well to temperature extremes.
- Buying raised bowls for your pet’s food and water helps minimize the pain of bending down to eat or drink.
- Placing runners and non-skid carpeting around the home can keep your furry best friend from slipping and hurting themselves. Place these strategically around the home, such as over laminate or hardwood floors as well as the stairs.
Take Them to the Vet Regularly
Your pet’s immune system can weaken with age, making them more susceptible to certain diseases and infections. Taking them to the veterinarian’s office regularly and making sure that all of their shots are up to date can go a long way towards preventing most illnesses. You’ll also want to consult with your vet regarding any dietary changes, supplements, and other recommendations they may have for your senior dog.
After giving us the best years of their lives, the least we can do for our senior pets is to ensure their safety, comfort, and happiness as they age. By showing them love and care, you can help your dog grow old gracefully and contentedly.