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Keep Your Senior Dog Content With Easy Tips
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Keep Your Senior Dog Content With Easy Tips

Critter Culture Staff
Updated Aug 15, 2022

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Seniorhood is a state of life for all of us, four-legged friends included. Aging comes slowly and gradually, so knowing how to care for your senior dog is vital. Fido can enjoy lively days packed with action even when behavioral and physical changes take hold. Since size and genetics influence aging, every breed reaches senior status somewhere between the ages of 5 and 10. With some helpful tips and plenty of encouragement, your canine companion can continue going strong.

1

Maintain a healthy diet

person giving dog a treat claudio.arnese / Getty Images

Your four-legged friend has been flipping, rolling over, and lying down for years, and now, you feel like they deserve a reward. Nutrition should remain a top priority, however. As much as you want to give your aging buddy all the tasty treats, a well-balanced diet makes all the difference. Excess calories could result in weight gain, increase the chance of disease, and cause uncomfortable inflammation, bloating, and illness. Ensure that your dog is getting all the nutrients they need, balancing out calories and exercise so they can maintain a healthy weight.

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2

Keep an eye on activity levels

senior dog outdoors Lois_McCleary / Getty Images

Exercise is even more important in old age, as it helps your dog manage their weight and keeps their joints, bones, and muscles in good health. While Fido couldn't wait to run out the door as a puppy, they probably need more encouragement, if not persistence, to stay active. Maintain a lively lifestyle for your aging dog by establishing a regular exercise routine and shortening the length of activities as needed. Mix it up, so your buddy doesn't get worn out or overstimulate the same muscles. Try hiking one day, and fetch, running, or swimming another.

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3

Senior-proof your abode

dog laying in bed

Optimizing your home helps senior dogs feel safer and more comfortable as they slow down. Adding pet beds or mats throughout your property (including outdoors, if they hang out on the porch or patio) is a great way to accommodate them, as it gives them myriad places to lie down and relax. Even a few steps can become painful as your furry friend ages, so give them something to grip, so paws get more traction, and add skid-resistant rugs to slippery surfaces.

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4

Schedule wellness exams

Veterinarian holding a dog NickyLloyd / Getty Images

Wellness testing includes a series of check-ups and blood tests to monitor their well-being and help detect early disease. In senior dogs, they're recommended biannually. Not only will your veterinarian ask vital questions about your dog's behavior, physical health, and activity levels, but they'll also get your canine companion's complete blood count, biochemistry profile, thyroid hormone levels, and urinalysis according to VCA Animal Hospitals. This keeps your dog going strong as long as possible while monitoring ongoing changes.

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5

Keep them cozy

Senior pug dog wrapped on blanket and relaxing on the bed at home Irina Shpiller / Getty Images

Since fur thins as your dog ages, they get chilly more easily. Keep them warm and cozy during any season by providing plenty of soft spaces to spread out and stretch throughout your home, and deck them out in an adorable doggy coat or sweater. Your pooch might want a cozy blanket in bed or on the couch, so keep them readily available year-round.

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6

Simplify your stairs

dog sitting on the stairs Capuski / Getty Images

If climbing's becoming intimidating, it's time to make changes. This is a complicated task for many aging dogs, as their paws need to land in a higher or lower place with every step in addition to moving forward to backward. With thinning fur, tangling nails, and a tendency to slip, this is difficult! Add vision impairment, and this is downright dangerous. Apply stair treads to each set of steps; this makes it much easier for your dog to grab onto, and it puts far less stress on their back and legs.

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7

Load up on supplements

Man giving medicine to his old dog Chalabala / Getty Images

Just like humans, dogs benefit from having well-balanced vitamins and minerals. Probiotics help increase bacteria in the gut, so Fido's digestive health stays intact, while fish oil keeps the joints, skin, and coat in top shape. Digestive enzymes help them absorb nutrients better, while omega-3 fatty acids help heal injuries, ward off disease, and aid cell health in every part of the body. Taken together, these vital supplements encourage overall well-being.

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8

Play brain games

dog playing with dog puzzle sandorgora / Getty Images

Keep your pooch's mind sharp by making cognitive activities a priority. Stimulate them with sensory games, such as playing hide-and-seek for some tasty treats or exposing them to freshly scented candles. Give them some puzzle toys to play with, invent your own game, or set up a scavenger hunt. The more opportunities your dog has to build and expand their mind, the longer they'll maintain their abilities.

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9

Prioritize grooming and dental care

senior dog having a bath Primorac91 / Getty Images

Dogs not only deal with fur thinning as they age; they tend to neglect grooming sessions or have a tougher time reaching certain spots, so knotting and matting are common occurrences. By grooming your dog regularly, you can check for irritation or lumps, so you could be the first to spot a potential health issue or disease. From brushing to bathing, a regular routine is vital.

The same applies to dental health. Help keep gum disease at bay by routinely (and gently) brushing your canine's chompers using dog-friendly toothpaste, and stay on the lookout for any cavities.

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10

Enjoy the moment

Happy man petting his dog outdoors andresr / Getty Images

Savor this stage in your dog's life by spending quality time together. You don't want to take their twilight years for granted, so now's the moment to adventure like never before. Keep your dog stimulated by exposing them to new sounds and smells at a nature preserve, trek through the forest, spend a day on the shoreline, or just enjoy a late-night drive. These are valuable bonding experiences you won't soon forget.

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