Top tips to help senior dogs stay happy and healthy
It's hard to think about your faithful friend getting old, but one day your pup will start to show sign of ageing, just like us! As we age, our needs change and any dog will need a little more help from its owners to adjust their care and diet to ensure they live long, happy and healthy lives.
In this article, we'll help you identify some of the normal signs of ageing in dogs, discuss some common health problems to look out for, and share four important top tips on how to help keep your dog in the best of health throughout their senior years.
When is a dog considered old or senior?
The age at which your dog becomes an 'old' or 'senior' dog will depend on their breed and size. For example, a small dog like a Chihuahua may not be considered as old until they are nearly 10 years old, while a Great Dane could be considered a senior at around 6 years old. But it's not just about age, your dog's life expectancy will also be affected by their genetics, diet, care and other environmental factors.
Recognising the signs of old dogs
One day, you'll start noticing that your pup is perhaps a little less playful, panting more after a long walk or struggling to get into bed. Those little grey hairs on the muzzle are a telltale sign of creeping old age, as well as changes in their coat condition and weight.
These are perfectly natural signs of ageing and they provide really helpful reminders that it's time to start monitoring your dog a little more closely and putting in place a few changes to their care and diet.
Four Top Tips on caring for older dogs
TIP 1: Choose the right diet
As dogs get older, their dietary requirements change and you can make a real positive difference to your dog's health by gradually moving them on to a more specialist senior dog food. They will need a different balance of nutrients and ingredients to better support their joints, teeth, gums and heart, and be easily digestible for a more sensitive stomach.
As they become less active, they will require a lower calorie diet that's high in protein but lower in carbohydrates to keep their weight in check and avoid any obesity-related health problems. They may also benefit from more frequent, smaller portion meals to help digestion.
Healthy Paws premium senior dog food is designed to cater for all these need in older dogs. It's a light and complete recipe, which is 100& natural, hypoallergenic and very gentle on sensitive stomachs, suiting even the fussiest eaters. This crunchy kibble promotes good oral hygiene and the high quality protein with added glucosamine, chondroitin and MSM provide essential support for ageing hips and joints.
TIP 2: Exercise body & mind
Even though your dog may appear to be slowing down, exercise is so important to maintain weight and flexibility. Getting out in the fresh air, meeting people and other dogs is also vital for their long term mental health and well-being.
Just like their ageing owners, dogs can develop stiff joints and get tired more easily, so it's a good idea to make the walks a little shorter and keep an eye on their breathing and gait to monitor any health concerns. Toys are also a good way to encourage exercise and keep older dogs entertained on a walk.
Your dog's brain needs exercise too. Keep them sharp and active with toys, puzzles and interactive games. You can teach old dogs new tricks!
TIP 3: Regular Health Checks
It's easy to recognise some of the natural signs of ageing in dogs and important to monitor any changes closely, as your dog is likely to become more susceptible to a number of age-related health conditions. Seek the help of a vet as soon as you have any concerns and organise more regular and frequent health checks to help detect any problems at an early stage, before they become significant issues for your dog.
Don't forget that your dog's dental hygiene, which is particularly crucial as they get older. Regular brushing, checks and professional cleaning will help prevent painful disease and decay.
Common health problems for older dogs
- Diminished or loss of vision
- Diminished or loss of hearing
- Gum disease
- Digestive issues
- Joint aches
- Weight gain & obesity
- Heart problems
- Higher risk or cancer
- Higher risk of chronic conditions
TIP 4: More home comforts
Just as you once made your house puppy-friendly, you should now look to invest in a few more home comforts to make life easier for your dog in their senior years.
If your dog has hip dysplasia, arthritis or joint issues and is struggling with the stairs or getting out of bed, you should consider buying a new softer bed and a heated bed is very comforting for achy joints if you live in a colder climate. Make sure a water bowl is always within easy reach, especially if their vision is deteriorating, to help keep them hydrated.
Non-slip surfaces provide better traction for wobbly legs around the house and can help prevent falls and injuries. A dog ramp is also a good investment to help your dog climb in and out of the car and maintain a regular routine of outdoor activity.
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