As your dog ages, their needs change. They’re still your four-legged best friend, but a general slowing down is inevitable. You can help them through their golden years by keeping them happy and healthy for as long as possible. You’ve gone through the puppy stages and trained an adult dog, and now it’s time to give your senior pup the necessary nutrients, attention, and care. Here are a few things your senior dog needs more of now that he’s getting older.
#1 – Constancy
A reduction in stress-fighting hormones can make older dogs more resistant to change. Small things that wouldn’t have bothered them a few years ago can now be extremely troubling. Older dogs have grown accustomed to their way of life, and they don’t respond well when they’re forced to break their habits. They usually don’t appreciate traveling and can slip into depression-like moods when an unwanted interruption takes over their life. Try sticking to a daily routine that accommodates your dog’s needs. If you have to travel or leave your dog alone, use an in-home pet sitter instead of a boarding kennel to keep things as normal as possible.
#2 – Moderate Exercise
Older dogs don’t need as much exercise as energetic puppies, but it’s still important to get them up and moving. Many common ailments found in senior dogs can be avoided by adding short walks into their routines. Overweight dogs almost always develop bone, joint, and arthritis problems. It’s easy to let your senior pup lounge around all day, but you’re not doing them any favors. Obesity will shorten their lifespan, and moderate exercise is their best defense. Keep walks and playtime short and stop if they seem overworked.
#3 – Dental Hygiene
Dental care is a concern for dogs of all ages, but it’s especially important for dogs 10 years and older. Gum disease and tooth decay is common in canines, and the damage gets worse with age. Few dogs actually enjoy having their teeth cleaned, and brushing your dog’s teeth as often as he needs it can be more stressful than helpful. Ask your veterinarian about the possibility of extracting your dog’s rotten teeth. Infected, painful teeth can keep a dog from eating and affect their overall mood, and sometimes removing them is the best option.
#4 – Grooming
Older dogs that spend more time laying on their sides often need more coat care. Senior dogs with long hair tend to get more mats, and aging skin is more susceptible to irritation and minor infections. Regular hair cuts and brushing will help alleviate some of these problems and keep your senior dog clean, comfortable and looking good. Besides their fur, you’ll also need to pay closer attention to their nails. They’re not up and moving around as often, and that means their nails aren’t being naturally filed by the ground. Trim their nails every few weeks to keep them from growing too long and hurting their paws.
#5 – Companionship
In the past, you and your pup probably spent time together going on hikes, playing fetch for hours, and being generally active and engaged in each other’s lives. Now that your dog has slowed down, they still need your love and attention. Staying healthy in old age is as much an emotional concept as it is physical. Your presence and companionship is a special kind of comfort that your dog relies on. What you do when you spend time together may change, but simply knowing you’re there is enough to reduce stress and relieve anxiety.