“Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.”~Sidney Jeanne Seward.
It seems as if suddenly the spray of gray whiskers appear on your dog’s muzzle, and his/her hearing is not as sharp. Your dog’s vision clouds as they start to slow down in their daily play and walks. As hard as it is to accept, your beloved dog is now a senior! As a dog ages, there are some changes to their care that will help them enjoy their golden years filled with love.
It is important to remember that aging is not a one-size-fits-all-dogs thing. While one dog at six may start getting fussy over food, another at eight may be stiff and slowing down, while a dog at 12 may still enjoy physical activity.
Hindy Pearson, a certified dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, and pet loss grief support coach who is the source of information behind CaringForASeniorDog.com, stresses to “Pay attention to any changes in behavior or anything physical that you notice, no matter how small, because it seems like a lot of people tend to assume that ‘my dog is getting older so that’s expected.’” When you start seeing that, and no matter how slight it is, it is better to call the vet and get him checked out because the sooner you catch something, the better the chance you have of curing it or at least managing it, and improving their quality of life.
Some Tips to Keep Senior Dogs Happy and Healthy:
Periodic Health and Dental Check-Ups
While it is important to a dog’s health to have periodic physicals, once a dog becomes a senior it is especially good to have their hearing, eyes, teeth, gums, and body-checked to address any possible issues.
As a dog ages, their nutritional needs change, too. While there is a wide variety of foods and treats for senior dogs ranging from pre-packaged to raw, discuss with your vet what type of diet and treats are best for your senior. Be sure to ask him about adding any vitamins and joint supplements as well.
There are lots of ways to have fun! Just because your dog is getting older does not mean s/he wants to stop going for walks or hiking, but it can be challenging for some as the years go by. Pearson notes that all exercises should go according “to each dog’s ability.”She recommends, “If your dog is having difficulty with walking, there are low-impact exercises to do to keep them active for their own happiness and health. It has to be tailored to your dog’s ability. A lot of people feel like if their dog has arthritis, it is not good to walk. But it IS good to walk. Break it up into shorter 10 to15 minute sessions throughout the day. Swimming is great. There are things you can do in the house, like roll a ball instead of throwing it so he still has to walk over to it instead of run…playhide-and-seek, find hidden treats.”
“Mental stimulation keeps their minds active,” notes Pearson. “It prevents boredom, and believe it or not, playing with a treat-dispensing toy or interactive toys, even redoing some training like sit or paw… all those things get them to use their brain and helps burn off excess energy as well, and there is no issue if your dog does have some mobility problems.”
Comfort is Key
Get your old dog a great comfy orthopedic bed to help her/him ease the stress on their aging bones.
Socialize with other senior dog parents. For ones you know, you can meet up for walk dates. Prefer online? Join a dog group that caters to older dogs, such as Pearson’s Senior Dog Care Club on Facebook. It’s a great way to share thoughts, concerns, and give support to one another.
And when taking your senior pup out for a car ride, don’t forget to install your 4Knines car seat cover before you go! They protect your seats from drool, nails, fur, and any “accidents.” Best of all, they install in seconds so you don’t have to keep your older dog waiting. Here is my 4Knines affiliate link to get your seat cover today!
Dorothy Wills-Raftery is an award-winning photojournalist and author of EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy; the FiveSibes™ Tales children’s books: What’s Wrong With Gibson? Learning About K-9 Epilepsy and Getting Healthy With Harley: Learning About Health & Fitness; and Buddy, the Christmas Husky~Based On A True Holiday Miracle books (ArcticHouse Publishing), as well as the FiveSibes.com, an online encyclopedia for the Siberian Husky breed and Canine Epilepsy information, as well as her international award-winning FiveSibes blog, based on the lives of her five Siberian Huskies. Her work has also appeared in American Pet Magazine, Ruff Drafts, The Sled Dogger, and Hudson Valley Paw Print Magazine. Dorothy is the writer and host of "The Sibe Vibe” Dog Works Radio show.
Dorothy is a 9-time Dog Writers of America Association “Excellence” nominee, winning the prestigious Maxwell Medallion in 2017 and 2016 for her writing, photography, and design. Her book EPIC Dog Tales: Heartfelt Stories About Amazing Dogs Living & Loving Life With Canine Epilepsy received the 2018 Independent Press Award for “Excellence” in the Reference Book category and 2017 NYC Big Book Award for “Excellence” in the Animal/Pet book category. Dorothy was also named “Best Author” in 2015 & 2016 by Hudson Valley Magazine and all four books named “Best in Print” by American Pet Magazine, An official International Purple Day® for Epilepsy Ambassador since 2012 and a volunteer case manager for The Wally Foundation-Canine Epilepsy, Dorothy is the creator of the FiveSibes #LiveGibStrong K-9 Epilepsy Awareness campaign and partnered with The Anita Kaufmann Foundation for #Paws4Purple Project, both inspired by her own epileptic Husky, Gibson. In addition to her Siberian Huskies, Dorothy shares her home with her husband, daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. You can follow Dorothy and her FiveSibes on Facebook at FiveSibes: Siberian Husky K9 News & Reviews, on Google + , Twitter, and Instagram(@FiveSibesMom).