It’s often hard to come to terms with the fact that our beloved pets are getting on in life. But just like humans, dogs will age and that often means making some changes to the way that you care for them. Your pet is likely going to need some extra loving care and some differences in their routine as they get older. Older dogs are more likely to develop arthritis, put on weight, and are at a higher risk of a range of different conditions and diseases compared to when they were younger, so it’s important to be aware of this and to adapt their lifestyle and care to suit.
We’ve put together some of the main things that you are likely going to do in order to ensure that your dog has a healthy, happy life as they get older.
Your dog’s diet might require some changes as they age. This is because an older dog will need different nutrients from their food compared to a younger pooch since they are at a higher risk of arthritis, bone and muscle stiffness, joint pain and a course or thinning coat. Omega-3 is one of the best supplements to give your older dog. A high-quality supplement brand to consider is YuMOVE; YuMOVE provides high-quality dog joint supplements made from the highest quality ActivEase Green Lipped Mussels with cutting-edge extraction methods to get the right amount of Omega-3 for your dog. Adding these dog joint supplements to your dog’s diet may keep your dog feeling healthy, agile, pain-free and more energetic for longer.
A Different Diet
Along with adding supplements to your dog’s diet, you may need to consider that your dog needs a different diet altogether. Older dogs often have to eat much less than a younger dog since they do not have as much energy to burn off. Dog food is designed for different age groups and if your dog is still eating the same food that they were eating a few years ago, it might be the case that they’re not getting the nutrition that they need right now. If your dog is getting more energy than they need from their diet as they age, they will be at a higher risk of weight gain and the associated diseases and health conditions. Speak to your vet about a suitable new diet for your dog if needed.
It’s common for older dogs to need less exercise than they once did. Strenuous exercise can be difficult for an older dog and hard on their muscles and joints, so don’t overdo it with long walks and too many games of fetch. That being said, exercise is still just as important for an older dog as it is for a young pet, so adjust your dog’s exercise schedule accordingly while making sure that they are still getting at least one walk per day. Shorter walks or simply allowing your dog to amble around, sniff, and take things at their own pace rather than expecting them to keep up with you when exercising is key. Regular exercise is key to good physical health for your dog, but anything high-intensity should be avoided.
Upgrade Their Bed
As your dog gets older, you might notice that it’s more apparent that they are struggling to sleep or when they do sleep, they appear to wake up in pain or discomfort. This is due to the fact that dogs are at a higher risk of arthritis and other joint problems as they age, which can make sleeping on a regular dog bed uncomfortable for them. Switching to a specially designed, memory-foam dog bed can make all the difference by providing your dog’s body with the right support that it needs at the key pressure points and relieving joint pains upon waking.
Stick to a Routine
Anybody with a dog at home knows that routine changes can upset a dog of any age, but this can often be more apparent with an older dog. Along with trying to keep to the same routine and avoiding any large changes wherever possible, it’s a good idea to try and keep your dog’s environment as routine and predictable as possible too. When dogs get older, they will often end up relying much more heavily on their memory to get around since, at this point, the senses often begin to deteriorate. Changes to the layout of your home or unexpected items appearing can be very stressful for your dog.
Use a Supportive Harness
Older dogs can often be more prone to slips and fall, so now is a good time to invest in a supportive harness with a handle that you can use to gently pull your dog back up if he trips over and is struggling to get back on his feet. If your dog is showing any signs of reduced mobility, investing in a harness designed for older dogs sooner rather than later is a wise idea in order to be as prepared as possible. Some harnesses come with comfortable handles that can be very useful in situations like helping your dog get upstairs if this is something that they have begun to struggle with.
Be Mindful of Deteriorating Vision
Just like humans, dogs will often start to lose their eyesight as they age, and since you can’t get glasses for dogs, you’ll need to be aware of this and try and support them the best that you can. If you’ve noticed that your dog has begun to hesitate going outdoors to do her business in the evening or at night time when it is dark, this might be because they can no longer see in the dark as well as they used to – installing lights on the outside of your property can be a helpful move.
More Frequent Vet Checks
As your dog gets older, their risk of certain health conditions will increase, so it makes sense to book your dog in for more regular vet check-ups. Your vet will be able to advise you on the most ideal visit frequency that allows them to thoroughly check your dog on a regular basis and quickly notice any tell-tale signs of anything that might be potentially wrong with their health so that treatment can be started quickly.
Love and Care
Finally, while it’s hard to accept that our dogs are entering their final years, it’s during this stage of life when most dogs are going to benefit from as much love and care as possible. There are plenty of great ways to strengthen your bond with your dog during this time including giving dog massages, gentle grooming, petting, cuddling, and by speaking to your dog and letting them know just how special they are for you. Dog ageing can be upsetting for humans who have seen their pet going through all the stages of life and remember them once much more energetic, but it can also be a confusing time for the dog, especially if the senses start to deteriorate or common ailments start to arise. Show your dog that they are loved right now.
As dogs get older, it’s important to make some changes to their routine, lifestyle, diet, exercise, and environment.