“Dog years” are a real thing, and they can fly by at the drop of a tennis ball. In fact, when your pet reaches 7 years old, he or she is actually considered a “senior pet,” according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
By the time this age rolls around (the equivalent to 40 or 50 in human years), you’ve usually settled into a pretty regular routine with your pup. You’ve figured out their favorite foods, settled into a regular exercise routine, and nailed down the treats that make them “sit” and “stay.”
However, your dog’s needs change with age. So how can you get a head start on caring for your senior pooch? These 6 adjustments can make all the difference.
Top 6 Tips for Keeping Your Senior Doggo Happy and Healthy
1. Don’t skip the check-ups.
We can’t say it enough: don’t wait until your four-legged friend is sick to take him or her to the vet. Even if your senior dog’s health seems like it’s in tip-top shape, most veterinarians still recommend semi-annual wellness exams. After all, early detection is crucial, especially when it comes to older dogs who are more susceptible to dental disease, arthritis, heart disease, and kidney disease.
2. A healthy diet is key.
Even if your dog seems to love their food, it’s worth reevaluating his or her dietary requirements with age. Most older pets go through a body composition change that requires adjusting nutrition and caloric intake. Some pets become significantly more prone to obesity, while others have difficulty holding their weight. We recommend consulting with your vet to create a nutritional plan for your pup that makes sense based on his or her individual needs.
3. Stick with the right kind of exercise.
Keep your dog moving! Regular, low-intensity physical activity is crucial to joint health for aging pets. While your pet might not be best-suited to your five mile morning runs anymore, vets still recommend steady, regular movement at your pet’s pace. Regular walks, dog park visits, or even swimming, can do wonders to maintain muscle mass, keep a healthy weight, and improve your pet’s overall mood and wellness.
4. Keep your home senior-pet-friendly.
Is your home a safe place for your dog? Keep an eye on slippery surfaces, steep stairs, tall beds, and other factors that may complicate or compromise your pet’s joint health. Try toe grips or non-slip socks, elevate food bowls, consider ramps near stairs, and try a joint-friendly pet bed that’s easy to access.
5. Try an alternative approach.
Manage pain and promote healing with a combination of methods like stretching, massage, heat therapy, hydrotherapy, acupressure, or acupuncture. Along with relieving pain, these treatments have been shown to increase stability, range of motion, circulation, balance, coordination and weight loss—all of which combat orthopedic-related issues and injuries.
(Related: Caring for Your Pet After Surgery)
6. Pick out an orthopedic dog bed.
Your trusty pup may sleep literally anywhere and everywhere, but that doesn’t make every sleep surface equal. In fact, many older pets are highly vulnerable to orthopedic problems that can be exacerbated by sleeping with minimal support. Choosing a cozy orthopedic dog bed like the Dozer bed can help prevent and relieve joint problems, increase mobility, and improve your pet’s overall health and comfort.
(Related: Sleep Wellness for Pets)
Growing old doesn’t have to be uncomfortable! Your loyal pal deserves a happy, comfortable, safe aging experience. Take early steps to prevent joint pain and problems, and your furry best friend can keep living his or her best life.