Maximizing Your Dog's Quality of Life in Their Twilight Years
Old dogs can still give you plenty of love and affection. And as they grow older, they deserve all the love and affection that you can give them. Here are a number of things that you can do to improve your doggo’s quality of life as they age.
Maintain Good Health with These Simple Tips
As your dog ages, it is important that they stay healthy. Health problems interfere with both length of life and quality of life. As your forever friend ages, be on the lookout for common issues associated with aging, such as:
- Bathroom accidents
- Changes in eating and drinking
- Lack of energy
- Losing weight
- Loss of hearing
- Vision problems
1. More Frequent Trips to the Vet
You might need to make more trips to the vet. It is easier to treat many health issues if you catch them early, so instead of taking your doggo in for one appointment a year, you might want to do it more often.
Between visits, check them weekly for pain, lumps, etc. If you notice any changes, you might want to make a trip into the vet. Recent pictures of your dog can give you a helfpful comparison to any changes to their condition - so don’t be shy, snap away!
2. Feed Them the Right Food to Keep Them Thin and Trim
As your dog ages, you will need to alter their diet. They are not as active as they were when they were a pup, so they need a different mix of calories and nutrients. Switching to senior food will help keep them at their recommended weight, while still giving them the nutrients that they need for a healthy life.
Less weight means less strain on the joints and it will be easier on their organs as well. Look for foods, treats and supplements containing:
- Omega 3 fatty acids
- Glucosamine and chondroitin
If they don’t seem to be interested in eating, adding things like bone broth, pumpkin, sweet potato, along with food toppers like cooked kale, spinach or broccoli, can make their food more appealing, while providing them with helpful nutrients.
3. Check Their Teeth
Lack of appetite can also be a sign of dental problems. Healthy teeth and gums are necessary for your doggo’s quality of life. Keep their teeth healthy by checking them regularly, frequent brushing, and giving them dental chews.
4. Keep Them Active, But Don’t Overdo It
As your dog ages, exercise is as important as ever. Take them on regular walks, but you might have to shorten the distance and lessen the pace if you see them struggling or tiring.
Games of fetch, tug-of-war, etc. can still be fun, but make sure that it is more moderate than it used to be. A lack of exercise can lower your dog’s quality of life, so get them out and burn calories, but at a lesser rate than when they were young.
5. Exercise Their Mind, Too
Old dogs can still learn new tricks. Exercising their brain can help them feel and act young. Try to work with them for 10-15 minutes daily on old tricks along with teaching them new ones. Food puzzles can be good intellectual stimulation as well. The main thing is to keep their minds and bodies active.
Treating Your Senior Dog's Aches and Joint Pain
As your doggo ages, they will probably have days when aches and pains limit their activity. Things like massage, acupuncture, pain relievers, bed warmers, etc. can ease their pain. Managing their weight can also reduce their pain.
Joint pain is often a problem with older dogs. Some joint pain can be reduced by feeding them food and treats with:
- Beef trachea
- Chicken feet
- Fish oil
- Glucosamine and Chondroitin
- Vitamin C
Changes Around the Home as Your Dog Ages
As your dog ages, you might need to make a few changes to your home. With changes in mobility as well as aches and pains, some minor changes around the house can make a major impact in their quality of life.
Because your dog isn’t as strong, slippery floors can become an issue. If your dog has problems getting up or walking, try using rugs, runners and rubber mats. This can really improve their mobility.
Ramps instead of stairs make getting around easier as well. Shallow steps up to your bed or couch can also make it easier on dogs that have lost a little spring from their step.
Raised water and food bowls can make eating and drinking easier on older dogs, too.
That old bed might not be good for your older dog either. There are orthopedic beds that can improve your dog’s quality of sleep, and they will awaken with fewer aches and pains. Adding a warming pad can also ease joint pain. Some beds already come with a heater.
Hot and Cold
Your dog, as they age, needs a more stable temperature because they aren’t as good at regulating their body temperature. You will want to limit outside time on days that are very hot or cold. If you do take them out into more extreme temperatures, make the trip short and watch for signs that the weather is affecting them.
Brush, Brush, Brush, Brush
You might have to help your furry friend with grooming because they might have trouble caring for their beautiful coat. So if you haven’t already done it, invest in a quality brush and spend a little extra time with them brushing all the snarls and tangles out of their hair. You will both love the time you spend together.
As they age, incontinence can be a problem, so you might want to invest in pee pads and train your doggo to use them. You might also have to take them out a little more often. It will be easier on you if you don’t need to clean up messes, and you can bet your dog would rather relieve themselves outside than on the floor by the door.
Keeping Your Senior Dog Social
Your dog hasn’t given up on life, so make sure that they are still getting out and about. Older dogs, not just pups, love a good stroll or a romp at the local dog park. Let them see their old friends and make new.
Where did they like to go in their younger years? Take them there. You might not be able to stay as long or walk as far, but they will love it and love you for taking them there.
And don’t forget their human pals. They really appreciate hanging out with their humans, whether at home or at a park. And for a special treat, take them out to dog-friendly cafes and restaurants. They will love that too!
As Your Dog Ages…
As your dog ages, you need to be there for them, just like they have been there for you. Give them all the quality time that you can, and you will be well rewarded. If health issues arise, remember to balance their length of life with their quality of life. While it is hard to say goodbye to a four legged family member, sometimes it is necessary. So collect all the wonderful memories that you can in the years that you share with your beloved doggo.