We all want our beloved pets to grow old and reach senior pup status. But caring for an aging dog is not the same as caring for a new puppy. Keeping these tips in mind will help you make your older pet’s life as comfortable and happy as possible.
Note: Dogs reach senior status at different ages, depending mostly on their size and breed. In general, smaller dogs age more slowly and tend to have longer life spans than larger ones.
Try these tips to help you provide your aging dog with the best possible care and quality of life:
Keep your older dog’s diet healthy.
We all want to spoil our dogs, especially in their old age. But overindulging them at this age can cause weight gain and inflammation, reducing your older dog’s overall quality of life. Try to maintain a healthy and balanced diet for all of your dog’s life, but especially when they are older.
Provide regular dental care.
Just like in humans, as your dog ages, dental hygiene becomes more and more important. Your pet needs your help to prevent chewing problems and painful dental decay and disease. We recommend regularly brushing your dog’s teeth and/ or having them professionally cleaned. If your older dog can’t tolerate teeth brushing, dental toys and treats make a great alternative.
Don’t skip the exercise, even for your older pups.
Aging dogs also have trouble with physical activities that they used to enjoy (sounds familiar, no?). But even senior pups need to exercise for as long as they are safely and comfortably able to. Movement is important for older dogs’ health, so try to take them on shorter, easier walks. And of course, keep an extra eye out to make sure they aren’t struggling to walk or breathe.
Let your aging dog exercise their brain, too!
Your older dog’s body needs exercise, but so does their brain. We all slow down a bit as we age, so be sure to provide stimulation to help your dog stay sharp as they age. Senior dogs especially benefit from food puzzle toys and other stimulating toys.
Be extra vigilant.
Your dog’s body will change as they age, and it’s our job as their caretakers to keep an eye out for these changes. Watch for any signs that they might be in distress. Your senior pup might start limping or having trouble climbing stairs or jumping. They also might struggle to change position or even start lying down while eating or drinking. If your aging dog shows any of these changes, make sure to talk to your vet as soon as possible.
Senior dog-proof your home.
When your dog was small or new to your home, you probably made some changes around your space to help him adjust and be safe. Now that your dog is older and entering a different phase of their life, you may need to make some additional adjustments for their changing needs. Now is a good time to swap out their current bed for a heated or orthopedic one, to help your older dog rest more comfortably. If your senior dog is having trouble getting up onto their favorite couch or your bed, you can set up pet stairs to make it easier for them. And don’t forget to help prevent falls by putting rugs on slippery tiles or wood floors. Even though your aging pup might be slowing down, there are a lot of things you can do to help them be comfortable and maintain their independence for as long as possible.