As you enjoy the passing years with your beloved furry companions, the time will come when they reach their senior years. Your dog may become more tired, slower, and could develop conditions like canine arthritis or doggy dementia. With proper wellness care and special attention, there is no reason you can’t keep your dog comfortable, happy, and healthy as she nears the end of her life. Senior dogs may require more TLC, but with these tips, living with your older dog will be filled with joy and bliss instead of sadness and stress.
1. Manage diet
To keep a healthy and happy dog, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for age appropriate diet and exercise. An aging dog does not require as much food to maintain her diet, according to the American Kennel Club. Convert your dog to a senior diet, which generally contains easily digestible nutrients and limits fats to prevent obesity and gastrointestinal issues. Making sure your dog has access to fresh water is also key because senior dogs are more prone to dehydration. Additionally, diet is important because you don’t want your older dog to gain or lose too much weight, which can happen if eating habits change as they age.
2. Annual health checks
Routine check-ups for your dog are recommended at any age, but are most important for older dogs. As your dog enters her golden years, biannual visits are recommended to keep tabs on any behavioral changes or health issues. Diseases can take a faster toll in older dogs, therefore, if they are caught early there is a better chance of fixing these problems. As in humans, early detection is best.
3. Make surroundings familiar and safe
Older dogs may lose vision, hearing, or become confused as they age. To help your dog adjust to these aging issues, be sure to keep your home environment consistent. Try not to switch around the furniture, move things to a new place, or change feeding or sleeping areas – this will lessen the risk of confusion that may worsen certain conditions. Keeping a environment safer for your dog can be achieved by putting runners on the slippery floors to help with footing, as well as putting in ramps or stairs for them if they are having a hard time getting around.
4. Soft bedding
Making sure your senior dog is comfortable can help keep her happy too. Providing her with a soft, warm bed in a familiar place, and limiting times outdoors in extreme temperatures can help. Routine grooming can is also important in order to keep the coat and skin from becoming dry or unkempt. This will also help you detect any skin abnormalities or lumps that may need checking immediately.
5. Keep her mentally stimulated
Living with your senior dog is not only about keeping her environment safe and comfortable, but also about keeping her mentally stimulated. Playing games with your dog and engaging her in fun activities can keep her exercise levels up and her brain waves working. Many people think the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is the truth, however regardless of age, your dog can learn new commands and enjoy mentally challenging games. Mental stimulation can help prevent aging of the brain and even stimulate new cells, beneficial for a dog in her golden years.
Enjoying the golden years with your dog is not only possible, but can be healthy and joyful for both of you. Even if your dog develops conditions such asarthritis, cancer, or dementia, there are steps you can take to make her life happy and comfortable. Living with your senior dog can be challenging, but with a lot of love and care it becomes rewarding.