One of my principal areas of work is helping owners with their new puppies. As well as providing training classes, we have walks, talks and workshops. And we love it!
Unfortunately, nothing can stop our dogs from getting older. Once the teenage months have drifted away, we have a few years of the active mature dog to enjoy, but then all too quickly, we have an older or senior dog.
Let’s take a look at how we can help our dogs through this period of their lives:
Maintain a Healthy Diet
Senior dogs should eat a balanced and nutritious diet suitable for their age and activity level. Keep an eye on their coat and their weight. Older dogs easily lose condition and easily put on weight if doing less.
Just because your dog is older does not mean it should be confined to the couch all day. Activity helps them stay alert and maintain muscle mass. Try taking your pet for daily walks or playing interactive games with them. Make sure to provide them with regular, low-impact exercises such as slow walking and swimming.
Stimulate Mind and Body
To keep your senior dog in good mental and physical shape, provide them with stimulating activities such as puzzle toys and scent-work games. Ensure chews are long-lasting and enjoyable to settle down with.
Changes in Behaviour
Be aware of any changes in behaviour. An older dog may suffer from hearing or sight problems, and you should take greater care of them in terms of safety. If in doubt, keep on a long line in areas where you would have once let them run free. A small number of dogs do start to show cognitive problems such as dementia. Contact your veterinarian if you notice anything particularly worrying.
Keep Teeth Clean
Just like humans, dogs need to have their teeth cleaned regularly to ensure their overall health. Either via brushing or by chewing on appropriate bones and chews.
Senior dogs may have difficulty getting around, so ensure they have comfortable bedding and a warm place to sleep. Older pets may have trouble with stairs or jumping onto or off furniture. Provide them with ramps or steps to help them get around.
Extra Love and Care
Dogs thrive on love and attention. Show your senior dog extra love and care to help them live a happy, healthy life. I love an old dog. They know so much and have seen so many things. As our pets’ guardians, we must ensure their later years are as good as they can be.
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