Tips for Your Elderly Dog and How to Care for Them
The sad fact of life is that everything gets old and this includes our beloved pet dogs.
As our dogs move into old age their physical and emotional needs change.
By adapting to these new need we can make significant difference to the overall quality of their life.
Before I get started on the list I am not a qualified vet. If you are in any way concerned about the health or well being of your dog, please them to see your local DVM veterinarian.
(It is always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the health of our canine companions!)
With that said, let’s now take at look at out seven tips to help you look after your senior dogs:
- Buy Specially Formulated Dog Food
- Pay Closer Attention to Dental Care
- Exercise is Still Important
- Use Heat Therapy to Soothe Their Aches and Pains
- Take More Regular Trips to the Vet
- Make Sure That They Have a Good Quality Bed to Sleep In
- Give Them Even More Love!
Buy Specially Formulated Dog Food
Older dogs have more specific diet and nutritional requirements than younger dogs.
This is particularly true if your older dog has any sort of disability such as canine hip dysplasia or some type of arthritis.
As dogs age, they tend to lose their appetite, at the same time they actually need more calories to maintain their bodyweight.
So if you can buy a high quality dog food, specifically formulated for geriatric dogs, making sure it is high in caloric density, protein and healthy fats, this would be great a great start.
You could also consider giving them dietary supplements. The most important ones are Omega-3 oils (fish oil is great for this) and a combination of Glucosamine and Chondroitin.
Pay Closer Attention to Dental Care
Keeping your dog’s gums and teeth in good order as they grow older is important for two main reasons.
Firstly for eating, you want your dog to be able to bite and chew normal food and treats, to make it easy them to get the nutrition that they need.
Secondly for chewing. Dogs chew and bite things for entertainment for dental and jaw health, for play and to see understand what things are.
So what are the best ways to look after your dog’s teeth and gums?
- Give them lots of healthy chews and bones.
- Brush their teeth with dog safe toothpaste.
- Make sure your vet keeps a close eye on them for any issues.
Exercise is Still Important
It can be easy to make the mistake of thinking that as your dog gets older, exercise is not as important, but in fact the opposite is true.
Older dogs need exercise to keep their weight in check and to keep them physically healthy.
They also still need the mental stimulation, even just a walk around your yard will allow them to soak up the smells, tastes, sounds and colors, all of this is vital for their mental wellbeing.
Finally if you dog has any mobility or physical disability issues, it is really important to keen them as active as possible.
My vet has a really cool saying “motion is lotion”. What she means by this is that by keeping joints moving, you are activating the body’s own system of repair and recovery.
Use Heat Therapy to Soothe Their Aches and Pains
Just the same as in humans, applying heat therapy to stiff or painful joints can help alleviate both the pain the lack of mobility for your dog.
How does this work? If you apply heat to your dog’s muscles, the muscle tissue will relax and soften.
As it softens it increases the mobility in the joint but also reduces tensions around it and this reduces pain and inflammation.
Take More Regular Trips to the Vet
I always recommend taking any dog no matter how old they for regular trips to the vet for check-ups.
As dogs get older I think this is even more important and ideally the frequency of check-ups should increase.
Speak to your own vet about this, if they agree ask them how often they advise you should be taking your dog and do your best to stick to it.
Note – If you are short of cash and can’t afford to take your dog to the vet this page has some useful resources that will help you to find ways of getting some assistance.
Make Sure That They Have a Good Quality Bed to Sleep In
If you have ever slept on hard bed with a low quality mattress you will know how unpleasant it can be.
Now think about your dog... Dogs tend to sleep around 14 hours per day and this can go up as they get older.
If you dog has any sort of joint pain, they deserve a good quality bed with orthopedic support.
“Orthopedic” is a word that gets thrown around a lot by people selling dog beds but lots of dog owners don’t really know what it means.
They also may not realize that many of the beds sold as orthopedic are not as good as they are claimed to be!
So what exactly does orthopedic mean? It means that the bed gives enough support to keep all your dogs fully supported with no uncomfortable pressure points.
Think of it like a human mattress, if you could feel your bed frame through the mattress you wouldn’t be impressed.
It’s the same for a dog bed, they should be able to lie on their bed without pressing their body against the hard floor underneath.
So for all dogs but in particular for older dogs or dogs with and pain/mobility issues, investing in a high quality orthopedic bed can be really beneficial for their health and wellbeing.
Give Them Even More Love!
That sad truth is the older your dog gets the less time they have and they less time you have with them.
So for both of your sakes, I think you should make this time as loving and caring as possible.
Dogs give us so much love over their lifetimes, giving that love back is something that doesn’t cost anything and is easy to do.
Attention, praise, pats, hugs, cuddles and as much company as you can will really make there last few years so much better.
Thanks for reading.
Scott Jones from Pupster Passion.