Tips to Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy
18 December, 2012

As our beloved dogs get older, usually by 8 or 9 year old, it is important to pay extra attention to their daily needs.  As with humans, older dogs tend to get arthritis and are less mobile.  Yet, if you spend a little more time and energy with your dog, he or she can live a long happy life.

Make sure you exercise your dog

Keep up the daily walks. Even if the pace is a little slower these days, it’s a way to bond with your dog and burn calories together. Just be sure to monitor your pup during and after the walk. Dogs don’t sweat so be mindful of excessive panting or signs of exhaustion. A few minutes of fetch each day can also keep dogs active.

It’s tough getting older

Weight control

On a small frame, an extra three to five pounds can strain your dog’s hips and joints. Since older animals are less active, they require fewer calories. Talk to your veterinarian about reducing portions or switching to a senior formula, which has fewer calories and often includes joint-friendly supplements such as glucosamine. A smaller-size kibble or softer food also may be necessary to aid in digestion.

Keep up with annual vet visits

An annual veterinary exam is recommended for all dogs. Older dogs also should undergo blood work so vets can catch any internal issues such as kidney or liver damage. In some breeds, biannual blood work is recommended. Talk to your vet about blood tests during the next visit.

Keep your home ‘older’ dog friendly

A dog’s vision and sense of smell can diminish with age. Be sure to keep things simple by removing potential obstacles around the house. It also helps to establish a routine for older dogs and avoid sudden schedule changes. Pet steps or doggie ramps also provide easy access so your dog doesn’t have to strain. Make sure that pet bedding is soft to cushion old joints.

Toys for senior dogs

As our dogs get older, the toys can sometime be a hindrance or less fun.  Try toys that are gentler on your dog’s teeth and jaws. Contrasting colors make balls and plush pull toys easier for older eyes to track down. Make sure playtime is still fun by adding new activities. You really can teach an old dog some new tricks if you are patient; it is great to keep your dog stimulated.

Watch your dog’s teeth

Teeth become more brittle with age. Make sure to check your dog’s teeth regularly and watch for signs of tartar or gum disease.   And, as mentioned above, make sure your dog’s dry food is softer.  You can add hot water to make harder kibble easier on an ‘old pup.

Socialize your older dog

Older dogs need even more love and companionship.  Make sure that your dog interacts with younger dogs as that can help your pooch stay young at heart. Try one-on-one play dates with other dogs. Depending on your dog’s agility, you might want to stay away from the dog park if that is too much stimulation.

With healthy food, exercise and companionship, your dog can ease into his senior years happy and healthy.

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