As your dog gets older, their requirements change, just like humans. When I was 20, I could go on vigorous adventures. As I have approached 40, my stamina is not as good, and my heel pain does not let me be a part of many expeditions.
As a dog ages, their mobility reduces along with their hearing and sight. Their immunity lowers, and they are prone to various diseases. But that does not mean it is a death sentence, as they have many wonderful years ahead to live. It is also essential to understand that there is no particular age when your dog starts becoming a senior. Every dog is different; hence, it is up to you to notice the first signs of aging and take the necessary steps.
Dogs, just like humans, get older, and what they could do as a young dog is not possible anymore. Many things change, such as their exercise needs or dietary requirements. Here are a few tips that will help you keep your senior dog more comfortable.
1. Feed Them Age-Appropriate Diet:
A young dog is highly active hence needs more food, but as the activity level decreases, you have to control the portion size. Older dogs have higher chances of gaining weight due to less mobility, hence you have to feed them carefully. Many dog food bags are specially designed for senior dogs to ensure their weight is maintained. These are often lower in fat and have fewer calories. If your dog sufferers from any particular condition, ask your wet for the right food for the dog.
Also, your dog may find it hard to eat hard and dry kibbles, hence opt for a soft dog food to make chewing and digestion easier to your senior dog.
2. Book Regular Vet Checkups:
As your dog gets senior, regular vet care is essential for caring for the dog. With age, their immune system becomes weaker, which makes them more prone to all sorts of illness. This is why a frequent blood work will help to determine if all parameters are alright and will give the vet an early chance of determining if something is wrong.
3. Regular Exercise:
Exercising your dog regularly is essential in every life stage. Monitoring their activity will let you understand if there is a sign that something is wrong. If their activity level decreases, you should definitely be worried about that. Especially if your dog is old, reduced activity may mean they are in pain; hence, visit a vet to confirm the reason. Slowing down is typical for an old dog, but that is not the only reason always, and it may just indicate untreated pain.
Exercising your dog will improve their muscle mass and keep their metabolism high. This will help them with their mobility throughout their senior years. Keeping your senior dog active will also prevent them from gaining weight. Lightweight dogs are lesser prone to developing arthritis. Exercising your dog will build its stamina and keep them active, even at a senior age. Talk to the vet to understand the appropriate activity levels for the dog.
4. Maintain Oral Health:
Dental hygiene is a must throughout the dog’s lifetime to ensure they do not develop dental issues. It is not uncommon for older dogs to miss a few teeth. But it is up to you to maintain their oral health to ensure their remaining teeth remain healthy by daily brushing their teeth and getting a deep cleaning done once a year.
5. Invest in an Orthopedic Dog Bed:
A soft bed can be challenging for the senior dog to get up from. An orthopedic mattress is usually made of memory foam, which is more firm and comfortable. They find it easy to get up from such a firm bed. This is helpful for dogs suffering from arthritis or any joint problems. A pain-free sleep is essential for senior dogs to improve their immunity, and such a comfortable bed may help them sleep better.
You can also invest in a heated dog bed with a built-in heater that warms up the bed to your dog’s natural body temperature. This may offer relief to their age-related aches.
6. Make Small Changes Throughout the Home:
A senior dog may not find your home as comfortable as it used to as a young puppy. Making minor adjustments in the home environment can make a significant impact. Put down more carpeting throughout the room as senior dogs may find it tough to walk on slippery tiles. There are dog socks available with rubberized non-slip soles to help them walk better. If you have a few steps here and there, it is advisable to provide a small ramp for the dog to access the area easily. If you have two floors in your home, it is better to shift the dog to the lower floor to avoid climbing stairs. You should also consider an elevated dog bowl for their food and water to eliminate excess strain that can fall on their neck. Place multiple water bowls across the home if your home is large and your pet needs to walk a lot to reach its bowl. Also, block the stairways using a dog gate to ensure your dog does not use it in your absence.
7. Try Using a Dog Support Sling:
If your dog has mobility issues, then a support sling, which is a harness specially designed for dogs with mobility issues, will help them big time. The support sling will aid them get on their feet. The handle on the back is provided so that you can assist your dog to walk.
8. Use Pee Pads:
Your dog may want to relieve itself more often now, but going out so many times might get tough. Using a few pee pads around the house will help the senior dog easily relieve itself. You can also make use of dog diaper if needed.
A few changes in the environment of your dog will help him live a longer and comfortable life and spread the same amount of joy in your life as always.
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