3 Things to Consider When Caring for Your Older Pooch
Bringing a new puppy into the family is such an exciting and joyous time. Their level of excitement and enthusiasm is so contagious, their playful, friendly nature puts a smile on your face and makes you forget about all the negative things that happened throughout the day. But the puppy stage doesn’t last forever.
My two pooches are now older in age and though they are much calmer now and don’t have quite the same adrenaline they once did, I love them more today than I ever have! As each day passes, I want to make sure that they count for them. I make sure to enjoy our cuddles, our play times, our walks, and our even our naps. With this age comes a new set of responsibilities.
To make sure I keep them as healthy as I can, here are 3 health areas to consider when caring for your senior dog(s).
Feed your dog a nutritious diet
Getting your dog a good, nutritious meal is probably the most important thing you can do to keep your dog strong and healthy. As dogs age, they undergo several physical changes that they cannot control.
Things like arthritis, vision loss, mood changes, cognitive dysfunctions and overweight tendencies become a real threat to a senior dog. Urinary incontinence also becomes a concern as the band of muscles near the bladder become weaker. This is why you may constantly see your dog licking around their private parts and why you may find your carpeting absorbing more odors.
According to Medicanimal.com many dog food companies now offer a different formulation for older dogs, which tend to have few calories, higher amounts of fiber and has adequate protein and fat. Foods meant for aging dogs also have higher amounts of fruits and vegetables which tend to be easier on the kidneys than meats which are higher in proteins.
Extra nutrients such as glucosamine, Vitamin E, Beta-Carotene, Omega 6 fatty acids, and fructooligosaccharides can help to boost your dogs immune system. Choose a reputable brand dog food and if you need to switch, do so gradually to avoid an upset stomach.
Keep Exercise Levels Up
Dogs are not too much different than you or I. They get lazy just as much as they want to get out and exercise, but making sure they go out for daily walks and play time is equally as important as the nutrition they receive. “Dogs that have the opportunity to play and exercise are generally happier, more emotionally stable and calmer than those who do not” says Linda J. Brodzik dog trainer and behavioral specialist in her article The Power of Play.
Dogs also benefit mentally from getting playtime and daily walks. It keeps their mind alert and provides them with a “job” to perform. Having a chance to be outside keeps them mentally stimulated and maintains the personality that you’ve come to love. It also allows them to keep their senses high and interact with nature. The more time a dog spends outside, the more endorphins are released to keep them happier.
Give him/her a hug
I mean, why wouldn’t you?
Bonding with a dog has positive life-extending qualities for both of us. A recent study by The Atlantic found that Dogs (and cats) have the ability love back! I know you’re thinking to yourself “duh”, but their scientific and neurochemical studies show that our furry friends release the same “love” hormones as we do when we are in an intimate setting.
Although dogs have evolved to be quite dependent on humans, the benefit each one receives is immeasurable. The more you bond with your dog, the more they have shown to release oxytocin “the love hormone”. This hormone also has an effect on their mental stability and maintaining their loving personality.
Not only that, but the bond between people and their dogs have also shown to reduce anxiety and traumatic stress on both sides.
What better of a feeling can you receive than know that the animal(s) you love most loves you right back. By being aware of these three tips, it will help to strengthen the relationship between the both of you and extend the life of your dog.
Tim is the proud and happy owner of two large Akitas who are now older in age. They are huge fans of the outdoors and enjoy going on hikes and playing in the water. When he is not working, he enjoys contributing content about keeping his boys (and other dogs) as physically and mentally healthy as possible.