We talk a lot around here about puppies and young dogs, so today I thought we could give a little special attention to our senior dogs. There is nothing more special than having a senior dog in your home; the ‘been there done that attitude, the comfort of an old friend, the special sort of ‘knowing’ that just comes with time and age. Our senior dogs deserve our best in regard to their health and happiness. Here are a couple of suggestions to keep your old friend healthy and happy as they change with age.
1. Regular vet checkups
Our old dogs are not as resilient as our young pups when it comes to illness. It’s better to be one step ahead in order to know as soon as possible that there is something that should be addressed. Our ability to intervene early gives our old dogs their best chance at ongoing wellness.
2. Exercise and enrichment
Mobility and stamina may decrease as a dog ages. However, it is still important to keep their bodies moving with daily exercise so long as they are comfortable. Getting them up and out every day to stretch their legs goes a long way to promote prolonged healthy mobility, and weight management.
Equally as important as exercising their body, it’s important that we continue to provide enrichment opportunities for our old dogs to think and problem solve. This could look like feeding their meal in an interactive food puzzle toy or doing a short training session with their food.
Another benefit to daily exercise and enrichment is it will help our old dogs keep their day times and night times the right way around. Similar to people, old dogs can become more confused and get their days and nights mixed up. Keeping them engaged in a routine during daytime hours will help them sleep better through the night.
3. Age-appropriate diet/ supplements
As the dog ages, their bodies change and so do their diet requirements. Make sure you ask your vet, or canine nutritionist, what kind of diet is best suited for your ageing friend. Consider adding some age-appropriate supplements for joint, immune or cognitive support.
4. Daily adventure
We know life can be so busy. It can be hard to incorporate our old dogs' changing needs into our daily routine. Consider brainstorming a couple of activities that you have to do anyways, that you can include your old dog in … maybe your old dog goes every morning to get the mail with you, maybe they join you for a car ride to the grocery store and you bring them back a special treat. Be creative! There is always a way.
5. Document the memories
As the saying goes “Dogs don’t live long enough. Their only fault, really.” Take the photo, book the photographer, spend the extra five minutes, and give them that special treat. It goes by too fast… but the beautiful memories last forever.
BONUS: Consider health insurance for your puppy or healthy young dog. Most dogs will need significantly more healthcare intervention in their old age than they do as a healthy young adult. You won’t regret having health insurance to cover the vet costs.