Ageing, as an inevitable part of life, means our canine companions all too quickly reach a stage in their lives where their youth seems a distant memory. Signs of maturity start to kick in, as ageing (which is a complex process) sets in insidiously and causes irreversible change affecting all organs of their bodies. As our dogs mature, in simplistic terms, what we really see is the accumulation of wear and tear on their bodies that occurs progressively with the passage of time. Of course, these changes should be seen as a natural evolution rather than as a disease, however, it is important to consider how you can help to keep your dog in the best possible health and condition as they age. Providing the appropriate nutrition is a vital consideration when it comes to supporting your older dog but there are many other things you can do to support them further.
Follow our top tips below for how to help your loveable canine companion to grow old gracefully…
- Adapt any play and exercise routines to your older dog’s slower movements and reduced energy levels.
- Keep exercise to small and regular sessions, rather than longer, infrequent periods, which could put too much strain on your ageing dog’s joints. This means long weekend walks with no exercise in the week are not recommended, whilst shorter, daily walks will usually be much more appropriate.
- Remember, it is very important to take a veterinarian’s advice on exercise for your dog, especially if you notice mobility issues in your companion.
- As dogs age, they can find things more confusing, so it is important to find a regular routine for your maturing pet and to try to stick to it as best as possible. Having a fairly fixed routine can help to minimise issues with your pet wandering and having accidents in the night, as they will be more likely to sleep well if they have been kept occupied throughout the day.
- Obviously, if your dog is getting very confused it is important to speak to their vet, as there may be other issues developing that a veterinarian can help to address.
- Adapt your communication and training styles to your older dog’s needs.
- Many older dogs will become harder of hearing and this can be difficult for your vet to definitively confirm unless they are totally deaf. Therefore, if you find your dog is less responsive to your normal commands, try to make sure you always have eye contact with them when calling them and start to introduce clear hand signals for your routine commands, as well as your usual vocal cues.
- Whilst we can put many changes in our older dogs’ behaviours down to age-related changes, it is important that our pets receive regular veterinary checks as they start to age.
- Most vets offer senior pet health checks at very reasonable rates, so your dog can receive a preventative health care package, just as humans do as they start to age. These checks will pick up on most of the common age-related issues before they have a major impact on your pet’s lifestyle, meaning you can manage them as effectively as possible.