As you may have seen in our last few blog posts, November is Pet Cancer Awareness month. But did you know that November is also “Adopt a Senior Pet” month? Whether you are considering opening your home to an older dog in need, or if your dog is reaching their golden years, here are our top 5 tips for how to keep your senior pup healthy!
Prevention is the best medicine, and taking your dog for annual vet visits helps to spot any issues early on. Many veterinary clinics celebrate Senior Pet month in November by offering special discounts for senior annual exams as well as some senior bloodwork panels, making it a great time of year to book a visit. Since dogs age at a much quicker rate than humans, it’s actually recommended to go in for a checkup twice a year once your pet is officially a senior. If your dog isn’t yet a senior, it is still important to have a regular exam by your vet, and to get baseline bloodwork done. This will allow your vet to spot trending changes in their bloodwork based on what is normal for your individual dog. It’s a good idea to ask your vet if your dog’s breed is prone to certain diseases, so that you can pay special attention watching for signs of these. It is also key to maintain good oral health, especially as your dog ages, so make sure to ask your vet how you can keep your pup’s teeth and gums healthy!
As your dog ages, you may notice changes in their coat. Senior pets may need more regular grooming, and sometimes might require a sanitary groom or assistance to keep themselves clean.
Feed a Healthy Age-Appropriate Diet
As your dog ages, their dietary needs can change too. It’s important to make sure that you feed an appropriate diet for their age. It’s also a good idea to discuss with your vet if there are any supplements you should be adding to their diet. Glucosamine, chondroitin, MSM, Vitamin C, and Omega-3 fatty acids are all great supplements for older pups. Depending on the health of your dog’s teeth, it might be beneficial to switch from a hard food like kibble to a softer diet.
Keep Them Active
It is so important as our dog’s activity levels decline to keep them at a healthy weight. Obesity puts extra strain on your dog’s joints. Regular exercise also promotes the maintenance of muscle, which your dog needs to keep their joints healthy. When physical activity is decreased, so does your pup’s mobility. Change up your routine to keep things interesting, and don’t let your senior dog’s age stop you from taking them on adventures! You will need to scale the adventure to their fitness level - perhaps instead of a run on the beach or through the woods, you go for a slower-paced stroll instead, but change up the location.
Just as it’s important to exercise your pup’s muscles to keep them in good working order, it is important to keep your dog’s mind at work too! When out for a walk, let them sniff as much as they like - this is great enrichment! You can also find so many easy ways to provide mental enrichment at home. Put some of their favourite treats in a paper towel or toilet paper roll, fold the ends over, and let them shred it open to get to the tasty treat inside!
Focus on Joint Health
Joint disease and arthritis are quite common in older dogs. Adding a joint supplement into their diet can help prevent damage. Did you know that healthybud’s joint booster helps to increase mobility while reducing pain and inflammation, all through natural ingredients? You can also check out an animal chiropractor or physiotherapist who can help keep your pup’s joints moving like they should. Getting a heated or orthopedic bed for them to rest on is also a great idea to provide some extra relief!
Adapt Their Environment
Things that were once easy for your dog to do may become harder and harder as they age. There are some simple steps that you can take to make things just a little bit easier for them!
-if you have wood, laminate, or tile floors, add in some carpet runners to make it easier for your dog to walk without slipping.
-purchase or make a sling for your dog if they are having trouble supporting themselves. You can use a reusable grocery bag, and cut the side seams open. This allows you to use the handles of the bag to hold onto while putting the bag under your dog’s belly. Slings like this can be helpful if you have a large breed dog that needs some assistance getting up from lying down
-if stairs are difficult, try to keep all of your dog’s items on one floor, and make sure to spend lots of time with them there
-if your pup joins you on the couch or your bed, invest in some pet stairs to make it easier for them to maneuver on and off
-if your dog likes the car and makes frequent road trips, look at investing in a ramp to make getting in and out of the car easier
Most important of all when caring for a senior dog is to spend time with them, and shower them in love! If you’re looking to open your home to another pet, why not consider adopting a senior? They have so much love to give!
Stay healthy, stay happy, stay curious #healthygang!
Lots of love,
-The healthybud team