How to Improve Your Senior Dog’s Quality of Life
By Pierre Mouchette | Bits-n-Pieces
As your furry friend gets older, there are some simple things you can do to make their life safer, easier, and more comfortable. The following tips will help you keep your senior dog healthy as they age.
How to care for an older dog?
As dogs age, they develop a greater risk for some age-related issues. Because of this, your senior dog’s healthcare requires more thought and effort than it did when they were young. By providing for your aging pup’s physical, psychological, and nutritional needs, you can help them live their best life well into their golden years.
Buy food formulated for senior dogs - As dogs age, their nutritional needs change. Older dogs often need foods that:
Consider supplements - Senior dogs are less able to digest and absorb nutrients from food owing to dental disease and other issues. So, some older dogs can benefit from dietary supplements. However, speaking with your vet before starting your dog on any supplement would be best. When considering supplements for your senior dog, the following may be beneficial:
Routine vet checkups - Senior dogs need more frequent vet visits. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that senior dogs have at least two checkups annually. Taking your dog for more frequent checkups can help ensure that illnesses are caught and treated early before they become a bigger problem. It lets you check in with your vet about nutrition needs and other modifications that may benefit your aging pup.
Additionally, your senior dog may have different vaccination needs as they age. So ask your vet what vaccinations are necessary, given your pup’s age and lifestyle.
Reduce slip-and-fall risks - Take note of areas around the house that you can modify to simplify your dog’s environment. Notice where your dog needs assistance. Is your pet avoiding hardwood floors because they cannot get traction?
The goal is to give your senior dog easy access to the necessities. It makes life easier if your pet does not have to go too far to access:
Invest in dog ramps and stairs - With aging, everyday tasks like getting into and out of the car or climbing into bed with you become more challenging for your pup. They may need assistance with doggie stairs or a ramp.
When purchasing stairs or a ramp, look for the following:
Switch out dog beds - A pain-free night’s sleep is crucial for your furry friend. So, it may also be helpful to update your senior dog’s bed. Consider investing in a quality orthopedic or heated dog bed to help your dog with the stiffness and pain of arthritis and other age-related joint mobility problems.
Remember, making your pup comfortable is crucial in improving their mobility and quality of life.
Keep up with grooming - Grooming your dog allows you to spend quality time together. It also allows you to check for new lumps and bumps regularly. Remember that your dog may have difficulty grooming themselves when dealing with painful joints and stiffness.
Even if your pup is used to going to a groomer, aging can make that experience more stressful. Loud noises, other dogs, and long periods of standing can create anxiety for an older dog. Because you know your dog, you can gently groom them without increasing their stress while watching for tender spots and changes to their coat and skin.
Make sure they exercise regularly - If dogs do not get regular exercise, they lose muscle mass and strength. The loss of muscle mass speeds up aging and makes your dog more prone to injuries and health issues. Your senior dog may not be up for long hikes or strenuous dog sports. However, ensuring your pup gets gentle, regular exercise is still essential. As with humans, keeping active helps dogs maintain mobility and slows the onset of mobility problems such as arthritis and muscle loss.
Find new toys and enrichment activities - Senior dogs can experience cognitive decline, similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans. One way to combat this is through physical and mental stimulation.
Great ways to provide enrichment for your senior dog include:
Knowing your pet's age in human years can help you better understand your canine as it progresses throughout its life.
HOW OLD IS MY DOG IN HUMAN YEARS?
If you have a dog, you have probably heard the following rule: ‘For every human year, a dog ages seven years.’ But that is not true because there are other factors to consider, such as size and breed. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger ones, but they may mature more quickly in the first few years of life. A large pup might initially age more slowly but is nearing middle age at five. Tiny and toy breeds do not become "seniors" until around age 10. Medium-sized pooches are somewhere in the middle.
HOW OLD IS MY DOG IN HUMAN YEARS?
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