Dogs age faster than humans, which means they reach senior status much earlier. It’s a fact that we all understand the moment we bring home a new puppy – no matter how young he might be today, someday he will grow into an old, grey senior. But dogs, by their nature, will always be young at heart. However, a dog officially becomes a ‘senior dog’ depending on the breed and size. This is because smaller dogs tend to live longer than giant dog breeds. Small dogs usually live up to 15 to 20 years old. Meanwhile, a larger breed has a shorter lifespan of 8 to 15 years.
But just because they are a little calmer, slower, and wiser than they once were doesn’t indicate that older dogs can’t recapture their puppyhood!
Signs of Aging
Most dogs show similar symptoms of old age as humans do. These include:
- Joint pain
- White fur around the mouth
- Weight gain or loss
Some symptoms manifest sooner than later for other dog breeds, but this shouldn’t cause immediate concern. Your old dog may still have enough power to experience and enjoy daily practices with you.
As their owner, your responsibility is to guarantee their quality of life and happiness. You can boost your senior dog to feel like a puppy again with the help of these ways:
Adjust and Maintain Your Dog’s Diet
Like humans, dogs’ weight can fluctuate drastically the older they get. This is because as your dog ages, its metabolism slows down, and they no longer require the high-calorie diet it needed when they were young. So if you used to feed your dog a lot of food when they were younger, it’s advisable to limit quantities now.
You can consult your dog’s vet to get advice on your pet’s suggested nutrition and calorie intake for their age. Older dogs need a diet rich in fiber and low in calories and sodium to maintain their health. Also, stick with wet food. The extra moisture in their meals will help them, so pour some bone broth or water into their dry meals. Or better yet, feed them high-quality or homemade dog food.
Moreover, you also have to weigh your dog regularly. If you have a small dog, you can do this at home with a bathroom scale. Bigger dogs will need to take a trip to the vet to use a veterinary scale.
Supplements and vitamins support and maintain the different parts of the body. From a healthy immune system and strong joints to a lustrous coat, supplements can help your senior dog feel young again! Make sure to give the best supplements according to your dog’s size and capacity.
It is very common for a parent of a senior dog to eliminate daily exercise from their routine due to mobility problems or other age-related conditions. Unfortunately, by doing this, you can usually make their physical conditions worse. Helping your dog stay active not only gives them a big lift mentally but also slows the effects of aging.
Even the most arthritic dogs need to keep moving. A great way to help them continue to exercise is via hydrotherapy. Movement in water is much easier for their joints but can still give them the necessary activity.
Swimming is an amazing source of low-impact exercise for dogs with aging problems. It is also a great way to keep muscle tone as senior dogs slow down. Obese dogs, those recovering from surgery, and dogs suffering from arthritis may benefit. Underwater treadmills and heated pools are not only soothing; they are fun for your pup!
Maintain Healthy Teeth
Dental health is far more than a pretty smile. The uncontrolled bacterial build-up in the mouth can induce bad breath, tooth loss, pain, and even lead to kidney, liver, and heart disease. Despite the significance of dental health, you should never start an at-home regimen without consulting your vet. Moreover, your dog may need professional dental cleaning to remove extra tartar and plaque to make your dog’s teeth healthy and strong.
Spend Time Together
As your dog slows down, but your life continues, your dog may feel left out. He can no longer go on those long hikes or camping trips in the mountains, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to go with you. He does; he can’t keep up like he used to. You can’t stop his aging, but you can find ways to spend time with him.
Invite him up on the sofa so he can nap next to you as you read or watch a movie. Next, lift him on the bed so the two of you can take a nap. Now, take a blanket out in the backyard, spread it on the grass under a tree, and lie down with your good dog. Not only will your dog enjoy the time you spend with him now, but these memories will be with you eternally.
Play Every Day
Never undervalue the power of play! Not only does the daily activity help your senior’s body stay healthy and strong, but it also promotes a sharp, alert mind. Try various outings, puzzle toys, canine agility, or brain games such as hide-&-seek.
Dogs of all ages love a pleasing rub down, but did you know that some massage therapists are authorized to give treatment to dogs? Canine massage not only reduces joint pain and muscle cramps but also enhances digestion, reduces anxiety, boosts the immune system, and encourages healthy blood flow throughout the body.
The benefit of helping your senior dog feel young is that you feel quite happy during this process. Healthy, happy, and active living can do wonders for your dog and yourself!