As dogs age, their needs change. Older dogs often experience aches and pains, lower energy levels and other health ailments that make life trickier than it was during their younger years. Luckily, there are ways you can accommodate your old dog’s new needs. We’ve done the research, and we’re sharing everything we found about how to care for your senior dog below.
Dogs Are What They Eat
You’ve probably heard the saying “you are what you eat.” There’s a lot of truth in that little phrase, both for humans and animals. A healthy diet is critical to good dog health, and it becomes even more critical as your dog enters his or her golden years. One of the best ways you can care for your senior dog is to feed them well. Here are some things to consider when purchasing dog food for your pup:
Nutritional Value – Senior dogs need good nutrition to feel their best. You may have gotten away with grabbing whatever bag of Purina was on sale while your dog was younger, but when they reach their age, you need to be sure you’re providing them with nutrient-rich food. Look for foods with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Weight Management – As your dog ages, he or she might start packing on some extra pounds. Just like with older adults, older dogs experience a slowed-down metabolism. To help your dog maintain a healthy weight, find a diet dog food brand that has fewer calories than typical kibble. Many popular brands offer diet and senior dog food options, so it’s not hard to find lower-calorie options. If you’re unsure what the best option is for your dog, talk to your vet.
Special Needs – If your dog is diagnosed with a medical issue, you may want to switch up his or her food for something more specialized. Many dog food brands offer kibble varieties that are fortified with nutrients that can help with ailments, such as a urinary tract disorder or skin allergies. Consult with your vet to find out the best food option for your dog’s needs.
Consider Supplements – Another way to be sure your dog is getting all the nutrients he or she needs is to give them supplements. Popular choices include fish oil and Omega fatty acids, which can help alleviate joint pain. Krillex is a great option to try.
Take It Easy
Senior dogs typically have less energy than they did during their puppy or adult years. Your dog may have been a great running partner previously, but now, it’s time to slow down. Excessive exercise can put a big strain on senior dogs, and it may exacerbate existing health issues, including joint and heart problems. If your dog is in good health, it’s still good to ease up on the amount of exercise he or she gets as a senior due to diminishing energy levels. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t walk your dog passed a certain age — all dogs need some exercise. But a quick walk around the park might be all he or she needs as a senior.
Keep Things Comfy
Hip dysplasia and arthritis are common for senior pups. To care for your senior dog, make sure he or she has a comfy, soft place to rest. Achy joints require extra cushioning, and extra blankets are always a good idea. Purchase some additional pillows for your couch if that’s your dog’s favorite spot. Or, consider investing in an orthopedic dog bed to really give your old pup the royal treatment.
Don’t Forget Dental Care
Dental care becomes extra important as dogs grow older. Dogs are at risk for dental diseases, which can affect other areas of their bodies like their hearts and kidneys. Be sure to have your vet take a look at your pooch’s teeth, and schedule a cleaning if possible. You can also brush your dog’s teeth to help them stay healthy.
Visit The Vet
Annual vet visits are typically fine for healthy, younger pups. But when your dog reaches their senior years, additional visits are recommended. Since health problems become more prevelant as dogs age, it’s important to have your vet monitor your dog’s health frequently. That way, if there is a problem, you can treat it right away.
The best thing you can do for your senior dog is to give him or her lots of TLC. Don’t hold back on the belly rubs — you’ll both benefit from the extra cuddle time.