Category Archives: Senior Dogs

How to Ensure the Best Life for Your Senior Dog

Aging eventually takes a toll on all bodies, and your dog is no exception. However, with good maintenance and little TLC, you can help your pooch to flourish in his senior years. Here’s how to ensure your dog continues to thrive, no matter what age throws his way.

Image Courtesy of Liz Tremblay

Improve Independence

Just like people, dogs often experience a loss of strength and mobility in their senior years.  Aching joints and bad backs can leave your dog struggling with things that used to come easily.  If going for car rides is becoming a major endeavor, or your dog needs a hand with getting on furniture, portable pet stairs, ramps, or steps can be just the ticket. That way, when it’s time to watch your favorite shows together, he can climb up next to you on his own. There is a wide range of choices, so make sure you do your research before you make a selection. Read online reviews to find the most suitable apparatus for your dog’s circumstances. 

Watch Your Dog’s Weight

Dogs often slow down in their senior years, and it’s all too easy to let a senior dog pack on some pounds. However, as with people, being overweight poses several serious health risks in dogs. Obesity can mean trouble with breathing; a higher risk of diabetes; additional wear and tear on joints, ligaments, and bones; decreased liver function; and an increased risk of a heart attack when under anesthesia. Certain dog breeds are more prone to obesity than others and should be particularly monitored. Whatever kind of dog you have, IHeartDogs suggests watching for these signs your pooch needs to lose weight:

  • You should be able to feel your dog’s ribs under a light layer of flesh.  His ribs should not disappear under a layer of fat. 
  • Your dog should be able to groom himself or scratch comfortably.
  • Fido has trouble breathing and is panting, huffing, and puffing with minimal exertion.
  • Your dog struggles to get around, such as getting up from a sitting or lying position.
  • Your dog has digestive issues, such as bloating, constipation, or gas.  
  • Fido has a loss of definition in his or her physique. 

You can compare your pooch with this infographic to help evaluate your dog’s condition. 

Feed a Healthy Diet

Nutritional needs change as dogs grow older. With less activity, caloric needs decline. At the same time, senior dogs still require a full range of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and protein. A healthy diet can support your dog’s aging body and help avoid chronic health issues such as kidney dysfunction and diabetes. Some senior dog foods add probiotics for improved digestion, or pet owners can purchase supplements to support joint health. Contemplate your dog’s specific needs and read some senior dog food reviews to help determine if your furry friend could use a change in diet. If you switch his food, Canine Journal suggests making the transition gradually over the course of several days. 

Keep Fido on the Move

Older dogs tend to be less energetic than younger ones, but they still require activity to maintain optimal health.  How much activity varies, based primarily on what sort of breed your dog is. There are athletic dog breeds who continue to need a fair amount of exercise, but dogs who used to enjoy hiking with you over rugged terrain on Saturday mornings might do better in their senior years with a brisk mile on flat ground. Even couch potatoes benefit from a regular exercise program, but their needs can be satisfied with a stroll in the neighborhood or a short game of fetch. Consider mixing up activities with your senior dog to provide mental and physical enrichment, such as with tug-o-war or swimming. Dog puzzle toys are a fun diversion as well, providing indoor entertainment in foul weather and helping to keep Fido’s mind sharp.

Older dogs offer all of themselves to us, and their soulful eyes, faithful hearts, and graying muzzles are endearingly sweet. Help your pooch remain independent, keep an eye on his health, and make adjustments to his regimen as needed. Aging can be hard on your beloved friend, but with good care, he can flourish in his senior years. 

Guest Article by Nick Burton co-creator of OurBestDoggo, a website for people processing grief of beloved dogs