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.
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.