Even when your dog is starting to have gray fur and isn’t as energetic as in years past, they still have plenty of life left to live. It’s only usually at the tail-end of their life that they become extremely sedentary, so don’t count them out just yet. They can be happy, active senior dogs when allowed to be.
Here is how to give your older dog a great, long life.
Keep Them at a Healthy Weight
Some dog breeds naturally carry extra weight, but dogs should be active enough to avoid piling on the pounds. When you see a fat dog, it’s because they’re overfed and aren’t receiving enough daily exercise. Effectively, lazy pet owners often lead to unfit dogs too. Sad but true.
Therefore, it’s important to feed them right and to not overfeed them. Dogs will often eat more food than is sensible if they’re allowed to do so. A full meal and extra treats can be overdoing it. How much food they should consume is relative to their size too, so adjust accordingly. And don’t be afraid to put them on a diet if they’ve added on some pounds lately too. Just do it in moderation.
Give Them K9 Supplements
Supplements are just as much a good idea for animals such as dogs and cats as they are for humans. They can ensure that they receive the right nutrients for healthy growth, strong bones, and muscle strength to let them live a good life.
One interesting supplement is mussel for dogs. It is a supplement from yumove.com, which produces chewable and other types of edible products to help with joints and hip functionality. Senior dogs often do very well with extras in their dietary regime to give them more flexibility and keep them active for longer.
Include Them in Family Activities
Senior dogs still wish to be involved in what’s going on even if they’re not running around like they were as a younger dog.
Therefore, don’t have the family in another room enjoying themselves and not include your dog in the action. They will appreciate being involved and feel sad if they’re left out. Dogs can easily get separation anxiety, so it’s best to keep them involved with their family around them.
In some cases, it might be best to avoid going out with the family and leaving them behind for hours at a time. Most dogs are happy to be left alone for a few hours but leaving them for prolonged period, especfially if they are elderly, can result in destructive behaviour. They can act out in various ways including being destructive with furniture, barking continually and bugging the neighbors, or trying to escape to go sniff out where you’ve all gotten to. Dogs want to be included – they don’t know they’re older.
Failing Eyesight? Engage their Other Senses
Dogs can begin to lose their sight even when they’ve still got years to go. This leads to depression and a lack of activity when left to their own devices. Dogs can forget that they have other senses to rely upon – and their pet parents – to get them through.
Engage them in scenting games that use their powerful sense of smell. While their eyesight can dim, their ability to sniff out things is usually undiminished. So, hide items around the home and play games while rewarding them when they find them. It will give them a sense of achievement and remind them that they’re still a very capable animal.
The scent game is good to try a handful of times but not more than that. It also can give them a little time to run around safely without needing to be in the park to do so.
See the Vet More Often
Older dogs should see the vet at least twice a year, up from an annual check-up.
It’s important to do so because it can help to catch new medical problems early enough to rectify or treat them sooner. Whether this fixes a problem or just helps to manage it before their quality of life suffers because of it, it will keep them happier.
An earlier diagnosis for medical issues provides a greater number of potential treatment options for them.
Take Your Dog on Favorite Rides
A senior dog may have difficulty jumping up to the car seat, so there’s no harm in carrying them into the car and strapping them in. For dogs that love to have the car window open so they can feel the breeze in their fur, it will make them feel younger again.
Take them on familiar roads and to some of their favorite places. They will enjoy that and recognize the route or when they get there. Depending on their current mobility level, they may like to wander around on the leash and sniff about to get familiar with an old favorite place. If they cannot recognize it in the car because of their declining vision, then they will surely know it once sniffing about.
Let them sit and relax in a preferred spot. They can get happiness from doing that even if they’re not able to bound up the hill or play in the sand at the beach any longer.
Improvise and Adapt
While a senior dog won’t have the same capabilities, as the owner, you can make adjustments to improvise and adapt to their changing life situation. When doing so, it’s good for their mental wellbeing and prevents them from becoming sad about what they no longer can do.
Avoid saying to yourself, “He/She cannot do that anymore.”
Instead, adapt to their new reality. When they cannot play fetch, it doesn’t mean that they don’t like the game. So, roll or throw the ball to them while they’re lying down, and they’ll still eagerly catch it. This will capture their interest but doesn’t require as much exertion.
Do likewise to improvise new solutions when they’re struggling with something. Workaround the problem instead of stopping the activity altogether.
Add More Creature Comforts
Seniors enjoy more creature comforts as the dog years tack on. They’ll need to be kept cool or kept warmer, as the case requires. Their paws won’t withstand rough terrain like they used to, and they won’t recover as quickly either. Medical conditions can create necessary changes too.
For instance, dogs with arthritis will enjoy a softer doggie bed to lie down and rest. A warm towel over their joints provides some relief from their discomfort too.
Supportive bedding can assist the spine and joints to give them proper rest. Rubbing their joints can ease tension and reduce discomfort. Ensure the sleeping area is quiet and dark enough to not keep them awake. They’ll need more sleep than before too.
Groom Them More Regularly
It becomes more difficult for seniors to groom and clean themselves. Sometimes, their owners need to pick up the slack. If you see signs your dog needs grooming, don’t ignore it!
Groom them more regularly than before. Brush their fur daily to get them set for the day. This allows the oil on their fur to be more evenly spread. Also, you can detect new cuts, bumps, or irritation that wasn’t present the day before and take appropriate action.
Senior dogs need different things than young pups or energetic 2-year-olds. Pet parents must adjust their approach as their dog’s needs change to give them their best life.