How to Care for Your Senior Dog: 6 Tips
Is your pup getting a little gray around the face, are they less agile than they were a few years ago? If so, your dog might be entering their golden years. Don’t worry—this isn’t a bad thing! It just means your canine might need a little extra attention, especially if they have underlying health conditions like arthritis or vision loss. From monitoring their health to keeping their weight in check, here are 6 tips for keeping your senior dog in tip-top physical and mental shape.
1. Visit the Vet More Often
The American Animal Hospital Association recommends senior dogs visit the vet at least twice a year for checkups. During each visit, ask your vet for a body condition evaluation, which is a basic overview of your canine’s overall health. Many of the health complications that plague older pups can be treated if detected early, so these evaluations are priceless for maintaining your dog in their older years. Lastly, ask your vet for advice about caring for your specific breed as they age, specifically what health issues you can expect. This way, any serious problems can be reported to your vet and treated as soon as possible.
2. Keep Their Weight in Check
Overweight dogs are much more vulnerable to health problems like diabetes, heart disease and cancer compared to pups who maintain a healthy weight. If your dog is currently overweight, speak with your vet about what diet and exercise changes you need to make to restore their fitness. Less weight means less stress on the body, which makes for happier, healthier senior pups.
3. Take Care of Their Teeth
Your dog’s dental health might be more important than your realize. Neglecting your canine’s teeth is not only painful for your pup, but could cause serious issues down the road, as oral bacteria can reach the bloodstream and wreak havoc on your pooch’s overall health. Skip these problems by regularly brushing their teeth at home and incorporating annual professional cleanings into your pup’s schedule. Even regular brushing doesn't always solve stinky dog mouth, so check out these 7 ways to naturally freshen your pup's breath.
4. Keep Up the Exercise—Physical and Mental
Regular exercise and mental stimulation play a big role in your dog’s health as they age. Physical exercise helps fend of obesity, joint pain and countless other ailments, while mental exercise will help keep your pup alert and youthful. Just remember: Your dog is older now, and they probably can’t run, hike or climb like they used to, so monitor their body language closely for signs of fatigue when exercising. Limit exercise to the early morning or evening, avoiding the hottest portions of the day. Senior dogs cannot regulate their body temperature as well as young pups, so avoid extremely cold weather as well. Mental exercise is as easy as playing with your dog every day, maintaining close companionship, and providing them with entertaining toys—like kong food puzzles.
5. Consider Senior-Proofing Your Home and Yard
As our doggies age, we sometimes need to make special accommodations to make their lives just a little easier. Hearing loss, blindness, arthritis—all require pet parents to make adjustments to their pet care. For example, ramps can be used in areas where stairs are unavoidable, and rugs or mats can be placed on hard surfaces to help relieve joint pain. Senior-specific products like bedding and supplements can also be used to ease pain associated with aging.
If your aging pup spends considerable time outside, your yard needs to be senior-proofed as well. Anything that poses a threat to your pup's health—from pools they can fall in to toxic plants they might eat—needs to be removed or fenced off. Consult your vet for additional guidance on how to best address your senior dog’s unique physical limitations. For more tips on dog-proofing your yard, click here.
6. Keep the Pests Away
Older pups are more vulnerable to pests like fleas and ticks, as well as the diseases and bacteria they carry. To ensure your dog remains protected, apply a non-toxic and pet-friendly bug repellent to their coat before and after enjoying outdoor activities like hiking or dog park visits. For added protection, treat your yard with a naturally sourced outdoor pesticide, too.