You want nothing more than a long, happy, and healthy life for your beloved dog. Because you’re so close to your dog, it’s easy to overlook signs of aging and slowing down.
While no two dogs have the same activity and energy levels, we do know that middle-aged and senior dogs do start to slow down (just like us humans). This slow-down doesn’t mean the end of a full and robust life – it just means you need to make a few adjustments to accommodate your dog’s needs.
Remember that your dog is smart and our pets tend to hide signs of aging for as long as possible. Be on the lookout for signs that your dog is struggling or simply ageing with these signs: your dog is sleeping more or has a slight limp or is losing weight. These are all signs that indicate you and your dog should visit your veterinarian.
We’ve put together some tips on things you can do to help give your senior dog a healthy life. Remember, before making any big changes to your dog’s diet, activity levels, or lifestyle – discuss these with your veterinarian.
Know Your Breed
Every breed of dog has different health concerns and lifespan range. Make sure you’re up-to-date with the needs of your breed.
- Golden Retriever. Higher rate of cancer. Average age of 12.
- High rate of mast cell tumors. Average age of 9.
- Cavalier Spaniels. High rate of heart and/or cardiac health disease.
- Susceptible to periodontal disease.
- Bulldogs and pugs. At a higher risk for heat exhaustion, fatigue, and issues related to surgical anesthesia. Bulldogs have an average of 6 and pugs have an average age of 11.
- Siberian Husky. Susceptible to autoimmune diseases of the skin.
- German Shepherd. This large breed is prone to hip dysplasia.
- Labrador Retriever. Often become overweight which can lead to joint health and mobility problems. Average age of 12.
This article by PetMD is an excellent resource for learning about the average expected age of your dog.
Pay Attention to Your Dog’s Diet
Just like us humans, your dog needs quality food for his entire life. As your dog ages, his dietary needs can change. Discuss your dog’s health with your veterinarian and ask about special dog food formulations that can help ease any health issues and extend the quality of life.
Make sure your senior dog is getting enough of these key nutrients:
- Water: many older dogs do not drink enough, which can make any existing health problems worse.
- Protein: protein is essential to help your senior dog retain muscle mass. Just like humans, dogs lose muscle mass as they age.
- Fat: fat is critical for brain function, talk to your veterinarian about food that has optimal fat levels for your senior dog.
- Minerals: sodium and potassium are essential in maintaining heart and kidney health.
- Carbohydrates: your dog needs carbohydrates to maintain his energy levels. Discuss this with your veterinarian.
If your dog is not well, you will need to discuss his dietary needs with your veterinarian. It’s key that your dog is provided with food that tastes good and that she wants to eat. When your dog is not feeling 100%, her appetite can be compromised.
Safe and Natural Supplements
It’s important that you follow your veterinarian’s advice when it comes to giving your dog supplements. There are so many supplements available on the market, that it’s very hard to know which ones are tested and proven to be safe for dogs.
Know that SierraSil’s Leaps & Bounds is an all-natural joint health mobility supplement that is backed by proven research.
Support Mobility Needs
Your senior dog is most definitely walking, running, jumping, sleeping, and sitting differently than when he was a puppy. This means you need to make adjustments to support these new mobility needs.
- Dog bed: if your senior dog has a thinning coat or struggles to sleep comfortably – look for a new dog bed. Choose a dog bed that can be heated or has extra padding and is easy to access. There are even special dog beds with vibration and heat settings that are ideal for easing dog arthritis pains (do discuss this with your veterinarian first).
- Ramps: if you have steps outside or in your home or have a vehicle that requires a big jump, consider installing ramps. These ramps can ease any stress your dog has about getting around in his home and into and out of your vehicle.
- Carpeting: slippery floors are hard for older dogs to walk on. Using area rugs or non-slip mats can prevent falls and slips. As well this extra layer can provide some warmth to your dog when he’s napping.
- Harness: pay attention to how your dog is walking and responding to his harness. The current harness might be creating pressure points that make walks uncomfortable.
- Water and food bowls: as your dog’s mobility changes, it can be harder for her to eat and drink. Look for food and water bowls that are elevated so your dog doesn’t need to strain.
Do you have advice on how to ease mobility challenges for senior dogs? Visit the Leaps & Bounds Facebook community page and share your senior dog experience with us.
Regular Veterinary Appointments
While you love your dog, you’re not an expert on dog health – so make sure you’re seeing your veterinarian regularly. Listen to your vet’s advice and pay attention to how these changes impact the quality of your senior dog’s life.
Your veterinarian will check for signs of ageing and disease including dental disease, arthritis, kidney disease, heart disease, and any breed-associated conditions. Ask as many questions as you want and make sure you leave the appointment understanding what you need to do to give your dog the highest quality of life possible.
Cuddles and Hugs
Give your dog the attention, cuddles, hugs, and love she wants. You might find that while your dog doesn’t play as much, she wants to snuggle more or likes to be brushed more. Listen to your dog and give her whatever she needs to keep her feeling content, safe, and loved.
If your dog loved playing at the dog park, but is no longer able to play with the other dogs – consider scheduling a doggie playdate with another dog of the same age, this gives your dog the chance to enjoy the company of another dog. Look for new ways to give your dog joy and happiness – chances are very high you’ll also feeling happier and more joyful.