As your dog gets older, his routine, habits and lifestyle will change to adjust to the change in pace, but there are certain steps you can take to ensure that he enjoys the highest possible quality of life for as long as possible.
K9 Magazine has put together 7 ways to help keep your older dog in good health.
Pay Close Attention to Diet
The older a dog gets, the more influence diet has on his general health. Since they're less active, they need less energy and fewer calories. Simply put, too many calories will simply be converted into excess weight and will inhibit mobility and can cause joint, heart and even skin problems.
Fish oil and flax seed oil are good for joints and vegetables that are high in iron such as seaweed are excellent additions to an older dog's diet.
Don't be afraid to alter your dog's diet if you think it can help, but pay extremely close attention to the results. Your dog's coat, eyes and energy level will all indicate clearly whether the optimum nutrition is being delivered.
Although it may sound like it's a new, high-tech idea, magnotherapy has been around since ancient Egyptian times. Magnotherapy uses the magnetic flow of energy to promote and induce healing and relieve pain. A magnotherapy collar is strapped around your dog's neck like a normal collar and then all you do is wait for the results.
Many older dogs suffer from joint and muscle problems, which impacts greatly on their mobility and quality of life. If magnotherapy is used successfully, many dogs demonstrate vast improvements and are clearly no longer in such a high degree of discomfort. If you're a sceptic about such healing practices, the best way of trying it is to use your dog - he's not going to pretend he feels better is he?
Try combining your dog's magnotherapy collar with a dog bowl stand for greater benefit to your dog's neck. You needn't necessarily change their bowl unless you want one with specific bowl sizes, but the reason things like this works is that your dog will be eating from a higher position - so their neck doesn't need to move and strain downwards as much.
Know Your Dog
Understanding the needs of your dog in a general sense will help you prepare for when he reaches his senior years. Dogs have different personalities, different dislikes and different fears - being aware of his habits and likely reactions to certain things will enable you to make good decisions about his welfare when he gets old. For example, dogs that are easily agitated by other dogs invading their space may become even less tolerant in old age, keep things like this in order to reduce stress.
Introduce Supplements To Their Diet
Supplements can make a huge difference to your dog's wellbeing and general all-round health and mobility as they grow older. It's worth paying particular attention to those which contain glucosamine sulphate, chondroitin sulphate and collagen.
Consider Your Exercise Levels
Some older dogs might have less desire to exercise, but the same desire to please their owners, or some might wish to be as active as they were as a younger dog and so it is up to you to adjust their routine so they can shorter bursts of exercise, for example rather than long walks.
Arthritis and other age related mobility problems can be aggravated by over-exercising your dog. However, exercise does remain critical to your senior dog's health, but allow him to dictate the flow by giving him access to open space where he can exert himself as much or as little as possible.
Stimulate The Mind
Old dogs will experience diminishing mental capacity in the same way old people do. Help to slow this process down by stimulating their instincts and motivations. Understanding the nature of your dog's personality and habits will enable you to do this effectively. Labradors will be stimulated by a game of fetch, whilst your ageing Blood Hound will benefit from a game of 'find the snacks'.
Enjoy Your Grooming Routine
Age related problems such as dermatitis and dry skin can be made worse if your dog's coat is allowed to mat or tangle. Keep on top of grooming, as it will also have the benefit of allowing you to check for any suspicious lumps or bumps.
For more older dog care tips and advice, visit www.olderdogs.co.uk