Top 8 Ways To Keep My Old Dog Healthy
Updated: Feb 1, 2022
After years of growing up with your dog, in your eyes, your dog will always be a puppy, even if their getting up there in canine (and human) years. it’s sad to watch your dog grow older and see they’re not as springy, playful and now greyer than they once were! Now is the time to start adjusting the lifestyle needs or your pup in their twilight, golden years!
In this article we will provide you with some useful tips on ways in which you can re-energise your dog and maintain or even improve their health and wellbeing.
1. Monitor and watch your dog’s weight
I know it can be incredibly easy to reward your dog with amble treats when they stare adoringly in your eyes. However, when your dog gets older, their metabolism slows down and they’re unable to digest their foods as quickly as once able to (just like humans). The excess calories which are not being broken down and turned into energy are subsequently stored as fat instead. Try and resist the urge to reward your dog with treats too often, slowly decrease the amount of treats you give them until you limit them with 1 per day.
Something to note: Additional weight on the joints of your pet can contribute to arthritis, and it makes it harder for dogs to get up because they have more weight to lift.
2. Keep your dog active
From time to time your dog may flat out refuse to go on walks and there’s nothing you can do about it unfortunately. Small wins can be good such as playing outside in the garden with your pup or going on more frequent shorter walks around the block. Switching up the route when you go on walkies can be beneficial as they can experience different smells and stimuli.
3. Use joint care supplements
Here at HWL Pet Supplies, we are huge advocates of recommending joint supplements to aging, active dogs who suffer from arthritis, osteoarthritis, lameness, sore/stiff joints and early onset hip dysplasia, to name a few.
Joint supplements work in 3 simple ways:
1. Natural anti-inflammatory - to soothe stiff joints
One of the most important compounds which make up dog joints supplements is Glucosamine HCL. Glucosamine regulates the synthesis of collagen in cartilage and provides anti-inflammatory effects which helps soothe joints and reduces the pain your dog will experience whilst walking and running.
2. Keep joint fluid healthy - to ease movement
Ingredients such as Glucosamine HCL and Chondroitin work in tandem to regulate the synthesis of collagen in cartilage which may provide mild anti-inflammatory effects whilst inhibiting destructive enzymes in joint fluid and cartilage.
3. Feed cartilage - to keep it strong and smooth
Joint supplements are designed to give the joint the nutrient it needs to repair itself. Ingredients such as glucosamine are thought to help to build collagen for cartilage, and additions like turmeric may add a natural anti-inflammatory effect.
If you want to learn more about joint supplement. Read our in-depth guide here.
4. Observe any changes of behaviour
Be vigilant and watch your senior dog’s behaviour carefully. Nobody knows your dog better than yourself, so you need to watch specifically for changes in things like your dog’s appetite and water consumption (these are usually easy early signs to spot). Additionally, Look out for changes in urinary and bowel habits and alterations in sleep routines. If your dog unexpectedly becomes irritable for no reason, it may be a sign that he’s in pain, having difficulty seeing or hard time hearing properly.
5. Choose an age appropriate diet plan for your dog
Often overlooked, it is imperative that your dog is on the correct meal plan so your old boy is getting the vital nutrients within their diet which can directly affect their skin and coat, weight, energy level and gastrointestinal function.
When buying dog food, look out for whether the food is low fat, low sodium, contains omega 3 and L-carnitine — (a vitamin-like compound made in the body from the amino acids found in red meats, fish, chicken and milk, can help cut weight in overweight dogs by escorting fat into cellular mitochondria where it is then turned into energy).
Additionally, I would recommend your dog to eat out of a slow feed dog bowl, as this will significantly reduce the speed it takes your dog to eat it's food as they'll need to eat around the raised prongs to eat the food. This small change can make a big difference as this bowl will reduce obesity, gastrointestinal disease and flatulence.
6. Optimise your house to accommodate for your aging pup
There are plenty of simple ways you can optimise your house which can better suit your pup. Dogs with hip dysplasia or joint issues should be accommodated with a special ramp or stairs so they can still get in the car or join you on the bed putting less pressure on their back legs. Another simple trick is keeping food and water in areas where they can easily reach, especially if they are vision impaired. Heated beds can soothe achy joints, particularly if you live in a colder climate. Finally, non-slip surfaces will prevent falls and help your older pet maintain traction.
7. Oral care
Typically, Humans brush their teeth twice a day (we’d hope!), why do we often overlook the needs of our canine friends?
Many dog owners make the mistake of not caring for their dog's teeth until it’s too late and problems start arising. Setting good oral hygiene practices whilst your dog is young will help introduce them to dental care early and prevent a variety of health problems in the future. Check to see if their gums are pink and see whether their teeth are not discoloured, or plaque driven. Often recommended, you should bring your dog to the vet for a professional dental cleaning every so often.
In-between vet visits, we would recommend using a dog breath freshener daily such as our own brand of dental water additive Woof Fresh. This will help eliminate plaque and tartar, whilst improve their breath so you can enjoy cuddles again!
8. Maintaining mental stimulation
Mental stimulation can help to keep your pet's brain in proper working order. There are many ways to mentally stimulate your dog, such as going for a walk (especially on a new route), taking a ride in the car, or playtime in the garden. Dogs which do not get enough mental stimulation can cause them to become lazy and sleep far longer during the day.
I guess it is possible to teach an old dog new tricks after all.