Wildebeest's Guide to Senior Dog CareOct | 21 | 2021
Taking care of your dog is a lifelong commitment. As pet parents we want to give our dogs a happy and healthy life throughout their time with us. Just like us humans, getting older for dogs can mean physical challenges such as loss of sight, hearing and smell, and a decrease in energy level and sometimes health issues.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, your dog, depending on the breed, would be considered a senior as early as age 6 or 7 which is about 40-50 years in human years and can benefit from a lifestyle shifted to meet their needs as older pets.
In this blog article, we want to highlight the importance of taking early health precautions and list a few things that you can start implementing to maintain your senior pup’s wellbeing and maximize their lifespan as the years go on.
1. A HEALTHY DIET
What you feed your pup is basically what they’re made of. You may want to or need to consider changing up their diet as they grow older and based on specific health needs that may arise.
Daily diets that incorporate above-average protein, below-average calories, and no high-risk preservatives are generally good anti-aging formulas to look for. Depending on your dog’s specific dietary needs, you may consider adding supplements (more on that topic later), probiotics, pumpkin for increased fiber intake, and steamed dark green veggies (ex. Kale, broccoli, spinach) for calcium, antioxidants and other beneficial nutrients to their current or senior catered diet.
There are many great food options out there today so we encourage you to do some research to find the option that best serves you & your senior pup. And remember to feed your dog proper portions according to their size, weight and exercise levels.
2. A STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM
Just like humans, taking care of your dog’s immune system can help prevent more severe illnesses or diseases. Dog parks, vet offices, city streets and many other places that you visit on the daily can expose your dog to harmful bacteria or parasites. A strong immune system helps fight these harmful elements and keeps your dogs healthy. A compromised immune system can cause diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite, joint pain, and much worse and senior dogs are much more vulnerable. Some ways to keep the immune system strong are:
- Proper hygiene - bathe your dog regularly to eliminate bad bacteria / parasites that your dog may pick up
- An ideal weight for their size and age - consult a veterinarian on what a healthy weight looks like for your dog and how many calories they should be consuming
- Rich antioxidant foods that are safe for dogs - like beans, apples, berries, cooked potatoes, cabbage, and broccoli can be fed safely and in moderation
- Clean toys and bowls - these are germ magnets as your dog touches everything with their mouth / nose after being outside, clean these with non-toxic cleaners
- Keep them stress free - avoid situations and environments that cause your dog to get anxious and remember that they can pick up on your stress as well
- Ask your vet - next time you go in for a comprehensive exam, ask your vet what other ways you can help boost your dog’s immune system
Increasing your pup’s intake of nutrients can be easily achieved with the help of supplements. You can find most options in treat forms or easily add to your dog's meals. Consult with your vet to see what supplements your senior dog would benefit from. Some general supplements beneficial for senior dogs are:
- Omega-3 / fish oils - helps with brain activity, eyesight, heart and kidney function, immune system and keeping skin and coat smooth and shiny
- Senior chewable formula - contains vitamins and minerals to support overall health
- Hip & Joint - supports hips and joints against pain and deteriorating range of motion with active ingredients like omega-3 and glucosamine.
- Bladder Control - supports normal bladder control and immune system function
- Heart Health - increases nutrients of L-carnitine and Coenzyme Q10 (older dogs don’t have enough in their bodies) and supports cardiovascular health
4. DAILY EXERCISE
No matter what age your dog happens to be, giving them daily exercise is always important. Although senior dogs may not be able to be as active like they were as a pup, make sure to maintain that daily exercise and slow things down for them. A leisurely stroll around your neighborhood, initiating play time, or swimming (hydrotherapy) are great exercises for senior pets. Daily exercise can also lessen the chances of joint problems as consistent movement of muscles will support joints and keep them limber.
For more activity ideas, check out our “Guide to staying active indoors & out”
5. MENTAL STIMULATION & PLAY
Dogs crave for both mental and physical stimulation, but once your dog starts to get older you should increase the amount of mental stimulation especially as they start to encounter challenges with getting enough physical stimulation. Keeping their minds stimulated will increase their happiness and health.
Consider getting your dog puzzle toys / mats or planting treats in a room of the house for them to smell out. Any fun and creative activity that gets them using their brains will keep them sharp and focused as they get older.
For more indoor activity ideas, check out the Exercise + Activity section from our blog article “Guide to staying at home with your dog in a pandemic”, or “Guide to staying active indoors & out”
6. REGULAR VET VISITS
Vets recommend scheduling a visit every 6 months for senior dogs. These are wellness exams to keep a closer eye on your dog’s health so that they can catch any developing conditions early and provide treatment as soon as possible. Ask your vet about scheduling routine checkups for your senior dog.
If given the opportunity to stop time and keep our furry friends around forever, we probably wouldn’t hesitate to do so. But growing older is a natural progression that happens to all of us and the best we can do as caretakers of our beests is to provide them with a healthy, happy life full of love and special moments that they so deserve.
We’re most certain that staying proactive and conscious of your dog’s basic needs -- both physical and mental -- and remembering to venture out together and build your bond with them along the way... will bring about a truly fulfilling life and companionship that we all dream about.
Wildebeest creates everyday essentials that help you build that special bond, share adventures big & small and make amazing memories with your beest. We want to be there every step of the way, with our gear & pom pom’s in tow, supporting you & beest all throughout the lifetime of your companionship. SHOP OUR GEAR