Our furry companions are more like family than mere mates, and as they mature, it hurts us terribly – ungratefully at times.
Tim Norris, dog trainer and founder of canine myofunctional therapy (canine massage), acupuncture and dog rehabilitation service Both ends of The Lead guide us through how to care for an elderly dog and guarantee them a long and pain-free life.
1. Do not overfeed your dog
It can exacerbate heart failure and problems with the joints. Feed a balanced diet on your dog to keep it on a good weight.
There are two ways you can do your dog a ‘self-check’ to see if they are not overweight.
- Sit up and you have a glimpse of your dog from above or behind. Only below their rib cage, you can see there is an noticeable waistline.
- When you’re unsure, run your hands down the side of your dog’s body slightly and you will be able to feel its ribs.
If you are still not sure whether after doing the tests you are overfeeding your dog, then you can speak to your vet and get their advice.
A number of factors decide how much to feed your dog. If you feed them with a kibble diet, the prescribed amount to feed will typically be indicated on the packaging.
When you’ve ordered your food from your local vet, they’ll usually decide how much to feed your dog exactly.
Now we’re beginning to see more people feeding their dog a fresh, raw diet.
If you feel this is best suited to your dog, it is recommended that you search for a qualified animal nutritionist to advise you on how much to feed your dog and how to arrange the meals specifically tailored to your dog.
When your dog grows older, and is less healthy (just like people), you’ll probably need to feed them a little less, or you risk a variety of joint problems such as arthritis by overfeeding.
If you have a dog that seems to be underweight, then it is best to consult with your vet and see if there are any problems that your dog might have stopping them from weighing up.
Many pet food brands include a senior collection for bones and joints, which will typically contain more omega 3, 6 and 9. Check out these suggestions about how to look after an aging horse.
2. Do not put too much or too little on your dog
Most dog breeds are known as senior dogs after they reach the age of seven, so it is necessary to adjust to reduce the effect on their joints and help them age more comfortably.
For senior dogs, high intensity chase games such as tossing a ball will increase the risk of injury and joint issues such as arthritis.
Jumping, bending and turning can place a lot of unnecessary pressure on the body of an elderly dog and while many senior dogs would always love chasing a ball, you should consider that this is the most suitable and safe way to practice a senior dog.
3. If your dog is old, don’t throw a ball to make him to get it?
If you are still tossing a ball for your senior dog, spending at least five minutes warming up their muscles first is good.
That can help to reduce their risk of injury.
You can do that by only making them walk at their usual pace until they are warmed up and then tossing the ball along the track, so they don’t have to hop or twist.
If you ever see your dog chasing the ball uncomfortably, or slowing down, now is a good time to pause.
If they’re store the next day after chasing a ball or rigid, then it will be prudent to stop tossing the ball for them and find some way to exercise it.
4. Make sure your home is safe
If you have floor surfaces such as floorboards, carpet or tiles, for an elderly dog these can be very slippery, making it easier for them to fall and hurt themselves.
Placing non-slip surfaces down into places your dog is using heavily will help keep your dog’s floors safer.
5. Use a step if your dog jumps on and off furniture
If you’re senior dog wants to climb up on the couch or bed, think of a halfway move so they can quickly get up and down. This will also lessen the effect on their joints and the possibility of injury.
I’ve seen a lot of dogs who have harmed the muscles and ligaments who leap off a bed or sofa. They are very avoidable accidents, and in these cases it would definitely have helped to use a halfway step or not to let them up on the furnishings.