Just like their humans, dogs experience changes as they grow older. When your cuddly pup hits the age of 7, they’re officially considered a “senior”. While there’s no grocery store or movie ticket discounts waiting for senior canines, it’s imperative for owners to educate themselves on how to improve their dog’s cognitive health and overall well-being.
Many people assume once their furry four-legged friend hits 7 that they’ll suddenly play less, slow down, and sleep 24/7. However, when you make sure your older dogs are mentally stimulated, exercise regularly, and receive proper care and nutrition, you can effectively slow the physical and cognitive signs that come with aging. In this article we’ll discuss the following 5 ways you can keep your older dog as healthy and happy as ever:
Teaching your dog new tricks
Feeding your dog a proper diet
Make your home more accessible
Socialize your dog
Pamper your dog
You CAN Teach an Old Dog New Tricks
Yes, this age-old expression is a myth. Dogs enjoy learning regardless of their age, and it’s essential to actively engage their brain and challenge their cognitive skills. By doing so, you’ll reduce the speed of aging within the brain and help shoo away boredom. Consider using a food puzzle toy for feeding, as these products are designed to make your pet work for some chow. You should also regularly call upon your pup to perform his or her repertoire of tricks–this will keep them sharp and give them a chance to work for some treats.
Be Mindful ofyour dog’s Diet
How much water should a dog drink? What are the healthiest dog treats? Should your dog adopt a specialized diet? All these questions should be taken to your veterinarian, who will have the knowledge needed to ensure your senior dog is eating foods that will have a positive impact on their activity level and cognitive health. Diet is a vital part of your furry pal’s well-being because, after the age of 7, their glucose metabolism production can change or slow down. This can have significant effects on awareness, memory, learning, and decision-making. Feeding your older dog the correct diet can help mitigate some of the effects that aging will have on them.
Make Your Home Accessible
As man’s best friend ages, they become less sure-footed, their hearing and eyesight declines, and they’re more vulnerable to hot or cold temperatures. Amp up the comfort and safety of your home by making everything as accessible as possible. Add stairs so your dog doesn’t have to jump to get into their/your bed or their favorite lounge spot (your couch, a comfy chair, your ottoman, etc.). Put in some rugs and carpet runners to help your dog stay on their feet and avoid slipping. Lastly, you should invest in a quality orthopedic bed that can provide the padding and heat necessary to keep your pawfect pal nice and comfy.
Find Them a Friend
Like us humans, many dogs desire companionship. When you find ways to socialize your older pooch (like setting up playdates with other dogs) they’ll be much happier. Dogs are born with a natural pack mentality and relish the opportunity to play, groom, sniff, and cuddle with one another. Pups with besties see reduced medical issues and live longer.
Make Time for Pampering
Giving your dog some much-deserved pampering can make a world of difference. Treat them to belly rubs and massages to keep their anxiety at bay. You can also partake in some Doga (yoga specifically for human and dog pairs). You can also give them their own personal spa day at the groomers where they can enjoy a hot oil treatment, warm bath, and hairstyling. Of course, you should note your dog’s body language in these situations. Some dogs may not like to be massaged and may get stressed at the groomers. If your dog likes going for long walks or playing at the dog park, taking them for those activities is a treat in and of itself!
Give Your Pooch a Long, Happy Life
Keep in mind the above tips when your dog starts getting older. While there is, unfortunately, no way to stop your pooch from aging, it is important to help them age as gracefully as possible. Don’t forget to become a Spotter to get some of the best doggie health tips and activity ideas straight to your inbox.