Every dog has its day, sure. But, if your dog has seen many days, is he ready for his senior years?
As our beloved family pet grows older, their needs change. They are more likely to experience health problems, and their food and exercise needs aren’t what they were.
How can you best care for your senior dog? You want your dog to live a long, healthy life, which means changing your dog’s routine a bit as they age.
If you’re ready to help your senior dog, keep reading to learn the ten best ways you can help an older dog live well.
1. Look After the Teeth of a Senior Dog
Dental care is important for dogs of all ages, but especially senior dogs. As they age, they are more likely to develop problems such as broken teeth, plaque build-up, and infections that require tooth removal.
Help your senior dog by inspecting their mouth and gums regularly and giving them dental dog care chews to help reduce plaque.
Make sure your vet also inspects their teeth when you visit— if not, look for a dog dental specialist.
2. Switch to Food for Senior Dogs
As your dogs become older, their dietary needs change. Older dogs tend to need less exercise and become more sedentary, so they need fewer calories each day.
Gradually phase out your dog’s food to a food designed for older dogs. These are usually lower in calories and fat, but also contain additional nutrients to help dogs with common problems they encounter in old age, such as arthritis.
Before switching food, always ask your vet about which food may be best for your dog. As obesity is common in old dogs, you want to make sure you’re feeding correctly.
3. Consider Adding Ramps to Your Home
Older dogs, with joint pain, arthritis, and mobility issues, find it harder to run up and down stairs or jump onto furniture, compared to their younger years.
To help your dog, why not install a ramp so they can avoid stairs. If your dog loves the backyard, for example, a ramp over part of the deck stairs could make it more comfortable for them to go outside.
Or, you can find furniture ramps created for beds and sofas, designed to help dogs who can no longer leap or jump like they used to.
4. Schedule Regular Vet Visits
When caring for elderly dogs, their health can change rapidly. If you’re not already, make sure you take your dog to the vet at least once per year for a full health inspection.
As with humans, it’s always better to catch any health problems early, before they have the chance to progress further. Luckily, many health conditions in older dogs can be treated with the right medicine, so vet visits give your beloved dog the best chance of a long and healthy life.
5. Don’t Neglect Exercise
Old dogs can still learn new tricks! Sure, your dog may be older, but that doesn’t mean they no longer need their daily walk or game of fetch.
Instead, adjust your dog’s exercise regime so it’s easier on them. You may need to shorten your walks, or switch to walking on grass instead of concrete if it helps ease pain from arthritis.
All pets need exercise, so find a new routine for your dog where they can exercise safely.
6. Take Note of Any Changes
You should always keep an eye on your dog and inspect their body for any physical changes, like lumps, sores, cataracts, or suspected hearing or vision problems.
Some of the most common health problems in senior dogs, such as cancer, dementia, tumors, or deafness, can be noticed by monitoring your dog for anything out of the ordinary.
Also watch your dog’s behavior, eating, and drinking. If anything seems unusual, let your vet know as it could be a sign of a problem.
7. Consider Your Home’s Temperature
Older dogs are more susceptible to temperature. They feel the cold very easily and can also get overheated fast, so make sure your dog is able to relax at home in a comfortable environment.
In colder climates, a jacket or sweater might help your dog stay warm, especially smaller breeds.
8. Look After Your Dog’s Joints
Limping, stiffness, trouble getting up, and slow walking can be a sign that your dog is suffering from joint pain or arthritis.
Unfortunately, this is common in older dogs and can make it hard for them to move around or rest comfortably. As with humans, our joints wear out over time, causing us pain and discomfort.
Massage, physical therapy, and joint supplements can help older dogs suffering from joint pain—check it out.
9. Get Them Extra Love
Your dog has been a lifelong companion since he was a puppy. Now that he’s older, he may not move as quickly or play as much, but he still needs lots of attention and care!
Make time each day to spend with your dog and keep him comfortable and happy.
10. Provide a Supportive Bed
As older dogs tend to sleep a lot throughout the day, it’s helpful to make sure they have an appropriate place to rest.
Look for a soft and supportive bed where your dog can take naps and rest. It should be easy for them to get in and out of it, and have enough cushioning so that they don’t feel the floor beneath.
If your dog feels the cold easily, add a blanket or some pillows that they can use to make a nest for themselves.
Help Your Elderly Dog With These Tips
If you have a senior dog in your life, use these tips to help them stay safe, healthy, and loved. The care of an older dog is slightly different than a puppy or adult dog, but with the tips above, you can help them live their best life.
Dogs are unwavering companions who love us and depend on us all throughout life, so make sure your lovely pup enjoys his senior years as best he can.
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