What Does Your Elderly Dog Need from You?

What Does Your Elderly Dog Need from You?

Just like us humans, dogs will go through some changes as they get older. You might notice that your pet is getting some gray hairs, that they’re not as mobile or as active as they once were, and they might experience some changes to their eating and sleeping habits. Some dogs will experience health problems as they get older including arthritis, and their risk of certain diseases like heart disease and cancer might increase. Whether you’ve had your dog for all of their life and want to make sure that they have a happy retirement, or have just adopted an older dog to provide them with a loving and safe home to spend their senior years, there are several things that you can do to make sure that your older dog is able to be just as comfortable and enjoy their life as much as they did when they were younger. While running around chasing a ball at the park is unlikely to be as much of a priority for a dog that’s getting on in age, you can make several changes and adjustments to help them thrive in their later life. 

Encourage Activity

Older dogs are less likely to be active, but some activity and exercise is always good for a dog, no matter their age. You may need to adapt the type of walks that you take your dog on and the type of games that you play with him as he gets older to ensure that it remains fun and that your dog isn’t going to get worn out. Many older dogs are happy to amble around the park sniffing things and meeting up with other dogs, but aren’t as likely to be as active or as enthusiastic as they were when they were younger – and that’s okay. As long as your dog gets to walk, sniff, and socialize, they will be happy. 

Watch Their Weight

Since older dogs are often less active than younger dogs, they will usually require fewer calories for their energy. This can put a dog at a higher risk of gaining weight in their old age if their diet is not adjusted accordingly. Weight gain in older dogs can come with its own set of health problems and concerns, so it’s a good idea to keep on top of your dog’s weight and make sure that they’re eating just the right amount of food. 

Try Supplements

Dietary supplements such as organic probiotics for dogs can make a huge difference to your older dog’s health and happiness. Native Pet’s probiotics can be added to your dog’s usual diet and may have several benefits for your dog’s gut health. Gut issues like diarrhea and constipation are not uncommon as dogs get older, and probiotics from Native Pet will create a thriving environment for healthy flora in your dog’s gut, which can address many digestive problems and improve overall health. The probiotics come in a tasty, protein-packed power that can be simply added to your dog’s meals. 

Keep Them Comfortable

As dogs get older, they might be more susceptible to suffering from aches and pains in their joints – much like humans. A comfortable environment is essential for your dog as he or she ages, so consider investing in an orthopedic dog bed. Memory foam dog beds are an ideal choice for older dogs since they fully support the weight of the animal and relieve pressure on the joints, allowing your dog to sleep or relax in her bed comfortably and pain-free. If you have noticed that your dog tends to be having trouble or appears to be in pain when getting up from the floor or her usual dog bed, this option can definitely help. 

Try Dog Massage

Dog massage is great for older dogs who might be suffering from pain and stiffness in their joints and muscles. You can take your dog to a professional for this service or learn how to do it yourself for a bonding experience with your pet that’s enjoyable for both of you. There are many benefits of dog massage for an older dog including the lengthening of tight muscles and muscle relief, which can lead to improved muscle function, less stiffness, and a better range of motion. Plus, massages can often feel very soothing for an older dog who might be feeling anxious or depressed due to no longer being able to do the things that they enjoy the most, and just want to be petted by their favorite human. 

Visibility

As your dog gets older, it’s important to bear in mind that they may begin to experience vision problems. Just like in humans, a dog’s eyesight will often deteriorate as they age. If you have noticed that your dog no longer wants to go outside to do their business in the garden when it is dark outside or they are bumping into things around the house more often than usual, it could be due to developing vision problems. You should always have your dog checked by a vet if you have noticed these signs to rule out any more serious underlying conditions. Help your dog by making sure that outside areas are well lit and that there is plenty of space for them to move around at home without knocking into furniture and other items. Bear in mind that dogs at an older age tend to remember where things are if they can’t see them clearly, so moving furniture around could be more of a stressful experience for them than you might expect. 

Get a Supportive Harness

An older dog might experience some mobility problems, which could make it difficult for them to walk in a regular collar and lead. In this case, it’s a good idea to invest in a good harness that is specifically designed for dogs that are experiencing mobility problems. These harnesses are designed to be more supportive and also give you more control over assisting your dog with standing up out of the car or navigating certain areas like steps, that might be trickier for them to do without support as they get older. 

Regular Vet Visits

As your dog gets older and is at a higher risk of certain health problems, it’s a good idea to make more regular visits to the vet so that you can stay on top of their health and ensure that they are always getting the best care. Your vet will be able to advise you on how often to bring your dog to see them. Older dogs might need more treatments from the vet such as dental treatments that have developed due to age. During regular checkups, your vet can also look for any early signs of emerging health problems in your dog so that they can be treated quickly. Most conditions are easier to cure or manage in dogs when they are caught as early as possible. 

Whether your beloved dog is getting on in life or you’ve opened your home to an older dog who needed a loving place to spend their later years, looking after an elderly dog is always going to be a little different. Understanding what they need to have a happy life at this stage is more important than ever. 

Tim Hanson (77)

Contributing writer at Preferable Pups!