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Whether we’re ready for it or not, our pups will grow into adults and then, eventually, their snouts turn silver. In place of that clumsy, energetic pup that once created havoc at home, we have a gentle golden oldie that loves you just the same.
During this time of their lives, they need your love and care more than ever. Just as people tend to slow down as they age, your dog will too. You may notice that they develop different preferences and that some of their needs change.
How can you make sure that your senior dog stays comfortable and happy? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
Nights can get very cold
Older dogs are affected by the cold more easily than younger ones. So, even a little chill can be very uncomfortable for them. Remember to place their beds away from open windows or doors so they’re not in the way of a cold draft. You can get a doggie blanket to ensure that they stay cosy and warm.
An orthopaedic bed helps
A lot of senior dogs develop joint conditions and these are much harder to bear in cold weather. Do what you can to ease the discomfort. Orthopedic beds offer better support and they are easier to step on and off from. These senior dog beds also have removable covers so they can be washed as required.
Soft food is easier to eat
Hard kibble can be quite difficult to chew. Soaking the kibble for a few minutes in warm water is a great way to soften it and to draw out the flavors. Wet food is the best dog food for senior dogs. Older pets may not have as sharp a sense of smell as before. Wet food has a stronger smell that may do a better job of tempting them to eat. Commercial dog foods like Orijen senior dog food are specifically tailored to suit a senior dog’s needs and are worth considering. Your vet or a certified canine nutritionist will be able to advise you on dietary supplements that will help ease the pain of joint conditions and provide other health benefits as well.
Check dental health
Soft foods are easier to eat but they don’t scrape plaque and tartar off the teeth as some chews do. Dental health is important for your pet’s well-being so look for other ways to maintain your pet’s health. Some rope toys are useful in scraping plaque off the teeth and you could ask for a professional’s advice on dental aids that are suitable for your pet.
Frequent pee breaks
Senior pets have a harder time with bladder control, so you should take them out to pee more often. Or set up a pee pad that is easily accessible to them indoors. This will help prevent accidents. Try to use ramps or lifts to prevent your pet from having to climb stairs frequently. If your pet develops incontinence, you can try adult doggie diapers that are now easily accessible.
Steps can be scary
Most senior pets have difficulty climbing up and down from any surface. This could be getting in and out of cars or even climbing up the stairs. Climbing or jumping puts a lot of pressure on their joints (especially if they’re overweight) and can even be painful. As an alternative, consider setting up ramps to help them get down easily from heights like the car seat, the bed or the stairs.
Create a safe area
Several animal rescuers have found that matching senior dogs with young, working families works well. One of the key reasons for this is that seniors are happy to sleep through several hours during the day, enjoying the peace and quiet of home while their owners are at the office. While leaving your senior pet unsupervised, it’s a good idea to close off areas that lead to staircases or slippery bathrooms so your pet is in no danger of taking a tumble. Create a safe area with a warm bed, access to a dog water bowl and their pee pads.
Let’s play with puzzles!
While senior pets do need a little bit of physical exercise every day, the games they enjoy may not be the same as before. Indoor games that require less physical exertion are great for seniors. Invest in puzzles that provide mental stimulation to keep your doggie from getting bored.
For older dogs with a weight problem, many vets recommend a limited swimming schedule as this helps them lose weight without putting too much pressure on their joints. You should speak to a professional on whether this is good for your pet.
Spend time with your senior doggieNo matter what is going on in your pet’s life, what they need most is your love and attention. More often than not, older pets love nothing better than to just be close to you. They enjoy cuddling on the sofa while you Netflix or laying close by when you work. The most important thing you can do for your dog at this stage is to spend quality time with him or her.
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