As a pet parent, it’s hard to see your beloved dog struggle as he gets older. But even though you can’t stop your pooch from aging, you can do something to make sure that his quality of life will not change.
With the right care, you can make your dog live longer and healthier even in his elderly state.
Here’s how you can provide the utmost care so your dog can enjoy the best of his life.
1. Watch out for signs of aging
Depending on the canine’s size and breed, most dogs will enter their senior years between five years (large dogs) and 10 years (small dogs). Watch closely for the following signs of aging:
- His coat begins to turn grey.
- He acts grumpy and mopes a little each day.
- He doesn’t jump quickly when he sees you like before because he can’t see you completely, due to glaucoma, cataracts, etc.
- He seems to forget most of what he learned from training.
- He takes a bit longer when walking up the stairs.
- He does not respond well when you call.
Knowing what signs to watch out for will help both you and your dog prepare for what is to come. As a pet parent, it’s your responsibility to understand what your old dog is feeling and to do the best that you can to help your old dog feel younger and healthier.
2. Pay a regular visit to the vet
Most dog ailments show up at old age. However, you’ll never know if a simple condition is part of a huge problem. It’s best not to overlook any small illness and visit your vet regularly to maintain optimum dog health.
Ask for an evaluation of your dog’s body condition
During every vet visit, it’s important that your vet evaluates whether your dog is underweight, overweight or at an ideal weight. As a matter of fact, you should also ask your vet to teach you how to evaluate your canine’s body condition yourself. This way, you can personally assess your dog’s weight even if you’re at home.
3. Help your dog get enough exercise
The right amount of exercise will keep your dog’s old arthritic bones lubricated. Your dog may be a little slow now, but that doesn’t mean that he should curl up on the couch all day. He may not be able to go on longer hikes, but shorter, less arduous walks are enough to make his body feel good.
Most senior dogs suffer from obesity. It’s critical that you keep your pooch at a healthy weight to eliminate stress from his body caused by extra pounds. Regular exercise is important to keep your dog lean and to prevent diseases.
4. Feed him a nutritious diet
Choose a quality dog food that will give your elderly dog all the nutrients that he needs. Helping your dog achieve the right nutrition in his senior years is important in keeping him playful and active. Ask your vet for recommendations on food ingredients or formulas that are best for your dog’s breed.
Moreover, you should at least have an idea of the nutritional needs of older dogs to ensure that your pooch is enjoying a nutritious diet.
5. Provide him comfort
Pamper your dog with a soft, warm bed to give relief to his aching joints. It’s recommended that you keep his bed in a comfortable area that’s not too cold nor too hot. Consider installing a carpet runner, and steps or ramps on slippery floors to avoid tripping.
Removing things on the floor that will only serve as an obstacle for your dog can help remove his anxiety. Also, noting his fading sight, you can help keep him from bumping into things that may cause him injury. Elderly dogs value routine, so refrain from rearranging his things and causing him to lose his bearings.
6. Groom him often
It’s important to keep your senior dog clean at all times to prevent infection. Make it a habit to do the following regularly:
- Check his skin, coat and ears for any irregularities.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals on your pooch during bath time.
- Keep everything around him free from ticks and fleas.
- Brush your dog’s teeth or consider giving dental treats or toys.
For all the years that your furry friend has kept you company, the least you can do is give him the extra care he deserves as he grows older. Aging is inevitable, but with the right care, many dog health issues and diseases can be treated. Don’t neglect your dog’s health; start nurturing him from youth to promote a long and healthy life for your beloved pet.
Farah Al-Khojai is the Managing Partner of Pet’s Delight. A passionate entrepreneur, Farah holds a Bsc in Government from the London School of Economics. She is always on the lookout for new opportunities to develop and grow the pet and equestrian retail and wholesale market in the UAE and beyond, and is proud to be at the helm of the first and the largest pet care provider in the market representing world-class brands including Orijen, Applaws, Hunter, Savic, Flamingo, Ruffwear and Rogz.