As dogs start to get older it is important to provide age-appropriate activities to keep them mentally active and happy and to help them move around comfortably and safely. A dog over the age of seven is technically classed as an old dog, although some breeds of dog live much longer and show signs of aging slower than other breeds.

A dog who is over the age of seven could still be running around, eating well, and have some mild arthritis or joint mobility but nothing severe enough for it to be a major problem. However, a dog over the age of 12 is a different situation. The mobility issue is usually much bigger, they might have some cognitive dysfunction, struggle to jump into the car, have vision and hearing problems, and will need more adjustments to help them stay comfortable and pain-free.  

In order to maintain a healthy and good quality of life, adjustments need to be made to cater to your dogs’ life stages.  

What do you do when your dog grows old? 

There are several steps you can take when your dog starts to grow older to ensure they live a comfortable and healthy life. This life stage requires some changes that you might already be noticing. Maybe your old dog is taking their time to get up from his bed, their joints might appear stiffer than before, and they’re struggling to get into the car and walking slower.  

How can you keep a senior dog happy and healthy?   

There are several steps you can take to keep your old dog happy and healthy. One of the most common changes in nutrition. There are diets that are specifically formulated for seniors, but many old dogs can still thrive on their existing adult food. The concern for nutrition for senior dogs is obesity and inappetence. At least 56% of dogs are overweight or obese and this excess weight can lead to health-related problems, especially for senior dogs.  

Dogs don’t complain much, which is why it can be hard to figure out what they need but looking for subtle changes in normal behaviour can be a sign.  

Daily strengthening exercises where the difficulty gradually increases are a great option to keep your old dog moving, you can try activities such as walking over small poles or encouraging your dog to put their front two paws up on a slightly elevated surface for exercises.

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You may also like to consider adjustments around the home to make it more comfortable for your old dog to move around. These will vary depending on your dog’s needs but include:

  • Ramps or steps to help them get up or down from beds, sofas or cars 
  • Pee pads and diapers for incontinence issues 
  • Orthopedic dog beds for extra support and comfort when sleeping 
  • Rug markers for dogs with failing eyesight 

Another option is to invest in some non-slip mats so when your aging dog is getting up and down from the floor and walking into areas where there is tile or wood, they can move with ease.  

How can I properly take care of my old dog? 

Early detection of a disease means your senior dog will have more manageable symptoms and live more comfortably in their golden years. As dogs age, they may develop some sensitives which mean they might require a specific diet suited to their needs. This is best discussed with your veterinarian so they can decide which product will be most beneficial. 

Here are some six signs to look out for in your aging dog: 

  1. Changing your senior dog’s food will help them with joint issues, and arthritis and provide the nutrients they need in their senior dog years 
  2. Take slower, shorter, and more frequent walks with more time allowed for scenting. For most older dogs’ small amounts of exercise is still a fantastic way to prevent muscle atrophy, even if they can’t go as far as they used to 
  3. Teaching new tricks is a great way to mentally stimulate your dog if they are struggling to walk. There is an old saying that “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” but you can with a little bit of patience and their favourite rewards 
  4. Another great activity for your old dog is foraging. Hide little treats with a strong, delicious smell around the house, yard or somewhere outside for your dog to use nose work and find. This is a great activity for dogs with failing eyesight 
  5. An orthopedic bed that is designed to ease old joints and provide comfort is a fantastic investment to fulfil your aging dogs’ needs 
  6. A hydrotherapy pool or dog-safe body of water is ideal for joint mobility 

If you need further support around senior dog care you can read more articles here or book now to speak with our trusted Your PetPA veterinarian via our website or App. 

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