If you are like most people, then you probably consider your dogs to be a part of the family. And, just like other family members, your dog will age. From stiff joints to impaired vision, there are lots of changes going on in your aging dog’s body. That doesn’t make them any less important, it simply means you must adjust to accommodate their changing needs. Luckily, there are some simple strategies you can implement to help an older canine life a happy and healthy life well into his senior years.
1. Change Up Exercise Activities
Your furry friend may not want to head out on your daily run with you anymore, but he still needs exercise. Now is the time to find supportive and appropriate outlets for his energy. Swimming is a great way for an older dog to get in some exercise without aggravating any arthritic or sore joints. It also makes for a refreshing way to cool off on a hot summer day. Be sure to supervise water activities and use a K-9 life preserver if you take your dog out at the beach or on a boat. If you and your dog enjoy spending time in the water together, keep in mind that claws and hair can do a number on pool equipment. Do a quick search for pool builders near me and ask them about the best types of pools and equipment for households with dogs.
2. Use Adaptive Equipment
If you reach for a pair of reading glasses to see the newspaper, then you know how important little aids like that can be as you get older. Your dog feels the same way. Look for little things that you can do or add to the house to make their life a little easier and more comfortable. A few examples of the most commonly used equipment include:
- Elevated food and water bowls to avoid training their neck and back
- Orthopedic dog beds for added comfort
- Steps to make getting on and off the bed easier
- Anti-slip area rugs to limit slipping
- Harnesses to help them get up and down
3. Give Regular Massages
Sore muscles and stiff, achy joints can really benefit from regular massages. Just 10 minutes a day can reduce pain, improve range of motion and serve as a valuable bonding time between you and your pet. Research shows that spending time with a dog has benefits for you, too. It can help lower your heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress and boost your mood. So, go ahead and make a daily rub part of your pet care routine. After all, who doesn’t like a nice trip to the spa, right?
4. Avoid Excess Weight
Lower energy levels and changing nutritional needs can let a little excess weight creep onto your dog’s frame as they get older. Unfortunately, extra pounds do more than make your dog look a little soft around the middle. They also add serious strain to aging joints. That is why it is so important to help your dog slim down and maintain a healthy weight. A senior feed is a good choice for mealtimes. It will help limit calorie intake and provide the right mix of nutrients for this life stage. Reduce treats, or just go to a smaller, less calorie-dense version of the ones you currently provide. Treat and kibble puzzles are excellent tools for getting your dog to slow down and savor each bite, too.
5. Provide Supplements
Even if you are providing a senior dog food, you may want to consider supplementing your older dog’s diet. While the right ones for your pet will depend on his unique needs, there are some supplements that pet owners have had more luck with than others. A joint support formula containing glucosamine and chondroitin serves to ease joint stiffness and pain caused by wear and arthritis while omega fatty acids, like the ones found in fish oil, may help improve heart health and cognition.
By ensuring your pet’s needs are met, you can help them live a long and healthy life. Providing proper nutrition, adaptive equipment and appropriate exercise allows your older dog to remain a central part of your household for years to come.