As dogs mature and age, staying both physically fit and mentally active can help to maintain their overall health. Here are five tips to help your dog stay in good condition and keep active as they get older.
Teach them new tricks
The saying about old dogs and new tricks is not true! Dogs love the mental stimulation that comes from learning new things – at any age. Choose tricks that are physically appropriate for them (particularly if they have any joint issues) and pay attention to signs of exhaustion.
New sights and smells
Let your dog’s nose do some work. On your walks, let your dog pause to sniff – as this is a way for them to get input from their environment and some good mental stimulation. Be sure to mix-up your route to help introduce new areas of interest, smells and sounds.
Keep them warm
Older dogs often have more difficulty regulating their body temperature than younger dogs, so it is important to help keep them warm. Additionally, for senior dogs that are arthritic, keeping warm will help ease joint pain. Having blankets available in favorite places around the house is a great first step. Be sure to check their sleeping spots for cold drafts, or tuck a rug under their pet bed if it is on a hard floor.
Adapt to meet their needs
As mature and senior dogs start to slow down getting out and staying active is essential, even though it may be more challenging. Think about simple modifications to your normal activities that might help to improve their mobility. For example, going on a short car ride might be easier with an extra step-up into the car. If you are going on a long walk, plan for stops to take a rest and include a water break.
Visits to the Vet
According to Pets.Webmd.com, senior dogs should see a veterinarian twice a year. Keep up with your dog’s dental health as well! Senior dogs’ teeth are weaker and prone to infection, which can adversely affect other areas such as their heart. Be sure to note and share any changes in behavior with your vet.
Perhaps the easiest way to keep your dog comfortable and happy as they age is to give them attention and lots of love. Whether you spend time on short walks, rides in the car or cuddling on the couch, spending time together is what most dogs treasure the most.