As dogs age they inevitably slow down and their needs and habits may change. Whether your dog is a Labrador or a Dachshund, there are some things you can do to keep your older dog happy and healthy and enjoying their twilight years as much as possible.
How Old is a Senior Dog?
Depending on the breed a dog may be considered senior as young as five or six, with giant and large breeds ageing significantly earlier than smaller ones. Equally, it’s not uncommon to hear of toy dogs living to the ripe old age of 20, which in what we call dog years is certainly a good innings.
Keeping Your Dog Active
As your dog slows down with age, they may be happy to stay at home more but regular exercise and stimulation are still important. Aim for frequent, short walks to keep your dog fit and healthy as much as possible and to keep their weight manageable. You may also want to think about a coat for the cold or wet weather. Offering puzzle feeders or new toys can help to keep your old dog mentally stimulated while they are at home too.
There’s No Place Like Home
Your older dog will enjoy relaxing at home and may need more rest than they used to. Make sure they have a comfortable bed that’s easy to access, away from draughts and in a quiet corner of the house that they can retreat to when they need some peace. Food and water bowls should be nearby and because they may need more frequent toileting it’s important to make sure they can access the garden easily. Older dogs will usually be happiest with a predictable routine so stick to one as much as you can to minimise stress, and remember that sudden noises may be startling if their hearing and sight are deteriorating.
Feeding Your Senior Dog
Just like us, dogs have different nutritional needs as they age. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight with regular weigh ins and consider moving them onto a senior diet. Your vet should be able to give you some guidance on this. Make sure your dog is not having to compete with younger, more boisterous dogs for their food and that they can eat in a relaxed environment. Fresh drinking water should also be available at all times and within easy reach.
Healthcare for Older Dogs
It’s important to make sure you keep up with your dog’s routine healthcare in their twilight years, including regular check ups with the vet, flea treatments, trimming nails if your dog is less active and keeping on top of dental health.
As your dog gets older you may notice some stiff legs or reluctance to move around as much – if you haven’t already been giving a dog joint supplement as a preventative measure this may now be the time to look at giving one. There are lots of alternatives on the market but make sure you opt for a joint supplement formulated for dogs containing both glucosamine and hyaluronic acid or chondroitin, as well as turmeric and Omega 3 fatty acids. Joint Aid for Dogs contains 22 nutraceuticals in total and also supports your dog’s muscles which can get weaker with age and lack of exercise.
Spending Time With Your Dog
Senior dogs are usually after a relaxed pace of life and will love just spending time with you and being part of the family. Grooming sessions can be a great way to show some affection and spend some quality time with your dog as well as giving you the chance to pick up on any subtle changes in their health or wellbeing.
Concerns About Your Older Dog
You may notice some changes to your dog’s personality as they age – many tend to mellow out but they may also become grumpy or tetchy, which could be a sign of an underlying issue like discomfort or pain. If you have any concerns about your dog’s wellbeing always speak to your vet to rule out anything serious.
Adopting an Older Dog
It goes without saying that puppies are adorable and of course many owners looking for a new dog will opt for a pup – but if you’re thinking about getting a dog why not consider adopting an older dog that needs a new home? Senior pooches have lots going for them and can make a fantastic new addition to the family:
- They don’t need house training, saving you potentially weeks and months of hard work and mess!
- They are usually less boisterous and less demanding
- They are able to fit in with many kinds of households
- Their easy-going nature makes them ideal for families with children
- They are already fully grown so no surprises when it comes to size and personality down the line.
- Older dogs often make the most grateful adoptees.
If you are looking for a new dog speak to your local animal rescue about any older dogs that may be waiting for forever homes in your local area.
Nutritional Advice for Your Dog
As always, if you would like any nutritional advice for your dog please get in touch with us on 01225 708482.