It’s so important to try to make every moment count and appreciate the time you have. Did you know there are things you can do to help your dog with the aging process?
Of course, you can’t keep your pup from aging, but you can help make it a bit easier. Here are some suggestions for how to help improve your dog’s golden years.
How to Know When Your Dog Is Aging
Not all dogs age at the same rate. The age when a dog is considered a senior depends on its breed and its unique traits. Typically, the larger the dog, the faster they age.
Giant breeds, like Great Danes and Mastiffs, are often considered senior by the age of five or six. For medium-sized dogs, like Retrievers, Pit Bulls, and Heelers, that age is around eight to ten. And for small breeds like Chihuahuas, Pugs, and Dachshunds, the age when they are considered a senior is often ten or eleven.
When determining if your dog is a senior and may need extra assistance, consider the condition of your dog. With aging, you’ll find your dog starts to have less energy and sleeps more. It may start with some medical issues, like diabetes, arthritis, or higher kidney values. Or maybe you notice your dog struggling a bit to get into your bed or in and out of the car.
Genetics, environment, and nutrition all play a role in how fast your dog ages, so evaluate your dog with the help of your vet to see where your dog is at and what you might be able to do to help improve its quality of life.
11 Tips for Helping Your Dogs as They Age
There are a lot of different things you can do to help your dog as he gets older. What you do will depend on your dog’s specific needs, but here’s a list to give you some ideas for how you may help your dog with the aging process. After all, you want to keep him with you, and feeling great, for as long as possible!
- See your vet regularly. Your dog should be examined at least annually or more as he ages. Even if he seems healthy, catching a medical issue that’s brewing is often much less costly than waiting until it’s a problem.
- Maintain a healthy weight for your dog. When your dog gets older, it’s more important than ever to manage weight appropriately. Extra weight can cause issues like arthritis, diabetes, heart disease, and more. Ask your vet for an appropriate weight and for tips for evaluating your dog’s body condition at home.
- Feed a high-quality diet. A dog’s diet directly impacts their health, so it’s important to feed them quality food, particularly for their age and lifestyle. If you’re unsure, talk with your vet. Limit treats to 10% or less of their intake. If your dog has any medical conditions, like kidney disease or heart disease, talk with your vet about a prescription diet that can help manage it.
- Get regular exercise. Make sure to exercise your dog regularly based on their individual needs. Going for walks is a great way to do this at a good pace for your dog. Start slowly and gradually increase the distance and intensity based on what your dog can do. Don’t push it, as you don’t want to cause an injury. Regular walks can help with a host of things, like preventing obesity, preventing boredom, and stimulating the appetite.
- Exercise your dog’s brain. Not only do you need to physically exercise your dog regularly, but keeping their brain stimulated is important as well. Try food puzzles or a snuffle mat, which are great for entertainment as well as weight loss.
- Maintain dental health. Dental disease can cause major problems in our pets at any age. Not only can it be painful, but it can cause dogs to have difficulty eating and weight loss. If you can’t brush your dog’s teeth, try dental treats and chews to keep their mouth healthy.
- Add supplements. Adding supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin, and MSM can help your dog. Also, consider a fish oil supplement with fatty acids like DHA and EPA as they can help with mobility and other joint diseases. If you feel it’s warranted, you can also talk with your vet about anti-inflammatories or pain meds to help.
- Improve weather protection. Dogs can be more sensitive to the weather as they age, even if they’ve never had issues before. They may feel more comfortable with a jacket or sweater and may even need booties during cold, snowy, or icy weather.
- Add accommodations for accessibility and mobility. As your dog ages, he may have trouble with certain things, like getting in and out of the car, getting up on your bed and sofa, and walking on a smooth floor. You can get things like steps and ramps to help, as well as rugs to navigate the floor. You can use a sling to assist them with jumping, and you can even use a towel for it. Consider a bed with more cushioning as well, with either a thicker mattress or more blankets, towels, and pillows to help their aching joints.
- Help with grooming. It may be challenging for your dog to keep up with grooming as he ages. Help by brushing your dog regularly and bathing when needed. You might even trim his fur a bit to help. Take this opportunity to check for lumps and bumps, which many dogs get as they age. It’s a good idea to have a vet check them out to make sure they’re not a concern and monitor them regularly. If you notice a change in a short period of time, don’t wait to have your vet check it out just to be safe.
- Consider canine rehab therapy. If your dog is having mobility issues or issues with managing weight, there are a number of safe and effective, natural options to help. Canine rehab therapy has an arsenal of tools to help, including cold laser therapy and exercises. You can even get an Assissi Loop to use at home to help with inflammation and pain management.
You Can Start Improving Your Dog’s Senior Years Today
You can help your dogs in their golden years to have a longer, better quality of life. Whether your dog is approaching old age or already a senior, it’s never too late to start.