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How to Make Your Senior Dog as Happy and Healthy as Can Be
Loving an old dog is truly a privilege. We’ve all seen heartbreaking stories of old dogs whose “owners” discard them on city streets or deposit them at the local pound in favor a new, bouncy puppy. These individuals have a lot to learn about loyalty and love yet in life. The truth is that senior dogs are a wonderful part of the family. If you’re sharing your heart and home with a senior dog, you know their needs change as the years tick by. But the good news is that as your dog enters elderly-hood, there are things you can do to make the rest of his or her life as healthy, fun and wonderful as the first.
Keeping your dog's aging body comfortable, it would be super helpful to provide a high quality protein diet and making sure your old fluffy friend gets regular physical and mental stimulation. Those are critical tips to help your dog through the golden years of old age.
As dog parents, we would really like the idea that our canine companions to be healthy and happy and to stay with us as long as possible. But what many people don't understand is that just as puppies need extra care and attention, so do dogs in their senior years. Our canine companions are considered to be senior dogs once they reach the age of seven. This means that we have a unique opportunity to make the second half of his life as healthy and happy as the first half.
1. Schedule Bi-annual Wellness Exams
A veterinarian who promotes active health care will support disease prevention as much as possible and help people help their dogs live long, active and healthy lives. Ideally, they want to see their dog at least twice a year, especially in middle-aged and older dogs.
By the time a dog is about eight years old (or earlier for some large and giant breeds), its health and nutritional needs must be fine-tuned every four to six months. For older pets, it is important to review weight, muscle condition, joint range of motion, diet, nutritional supplements and exercise habits at least every six months.
Have your veterinarian perform a blood test to look at your pet's internal health to ensure early detection of possible problems, or consider a blood test that measures inflammatory fat.
2. Take Steps to Make Your Dog's Aging Body Comfortable
If your dog seems uncomfortable, it is important not to assume that this is a natural part of aging.
You want to make sure it is not the result of pain, so it is important to take your dog to the veterinarian for a thorough check-up. The sooner a health problem can be diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome will be.
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight and physically active can help control the arthritic and degenerative joint diseases of the aging process. Chiropractic, aquatic activities and acupuncture also provide great benefits to maintain your dog's mobility in his later years.
There are many different supplements that can be added to a dog's diet to help maintain healthy muscle bonds, ligaments, joints and cartilage, including
Glucosamine (Glucosamine sulfate) plus organic sulfur (MSM) and eggshell membranes
Omega-3 fats (krill oil)
Coenzyme Q10 (Ubiquinol)
Super greens such as spirulina (spirulina) and astaxanthin (astaxanthin)
Natural anti-inflammatory formulas (herbs, proteolytic enzymes [proteolytic enzymes] and nutraceuticals)
Also, talk to your veterinarian about mucopolysulfate injections (Adequan injections), which can very quickly stimulate the production of joint fluid in arthritic pets. Regular massage helps middle-aged dogs maintain muscle tone and reduces muscle laxity associated with aging. The massaged muscles are more relaxed, making it easier for the pet to move in a comfortable manner.
Massage also improves circulation and lymphatic drainage, reducing joint stiffness. If your dog has poor vision or hearing, use safe, non-toxic scent signals (such as essential oils) to help him find his way around. Consider purchasing or building your own ramp for dogs that do not easily jump on cars, beds or favorite chairs.
3. Don't Only Provide a Small Amount of High-quality Protein in Your Dog's Diet
Contrary to what many dog owners and even veterinarians believe, pets need more protein in their old age than when they were younger, and the quality is especially important. The easier the protein is to digest and absorb, and the higher the water content of the food, the easier these will be digested by aging organs.
Regardless of a pet's age, the healthiest food for most of them is food that is whole and unprocessed and in its natural form, including animal meats, which should be the basis of a healthy diet for a dog's entire life. Food that has not been dehydrated or processed is the food that is most easily absorbed by the body.
Regardless of your dog's age or weight, It is recommended that you avoid any commercially diets available in the market that contain a high percentage of fiber. The fiber in commercially available diets is marketed as a healthy addition, very similar to the marketing of fiber in human food, however the truth is that the fiber in commercially available diets is usually just a cheap ingredient used to add bulk.
4. Make Sure Your Dog Gets Daily Exercise
Middle-aged dogs and even older dogs still need daily exercise to maintain good health and a strong body. nAlthough an older dog cannot exercise or compete with the intensity that a younger dog can, he still needs regular walks and age-appropriate physical activity. There are three types of strengthening exercises that can also be of great benefit to the aging dog's body.
Passive range-of-motion (PROM) exercises can be helpful for pets with limited mobility or physical health.
Balance and proprioceptive (spatial positioning and movement) exercises help older dogs maintain flexibility, while also promoting improved balance and limb stability.
Part-specific strengthening exercises are designed to work the large muscle groups that help with standing, walking and running.
Gentle stretching is also a great natural tool to improve your dog's physical and mental health and longevity.
5. Provide Regular Opportunities for Socialization and Mental Stimulation
No matter how old a dog is, he or she still needs regular social interaction with other dogs. Just as with human aging, if your four-legged family member is unable to have an active and engaged life, his world will become a confusing and scary place.
Dogs need regular contact with other dogs, but be careful not to overstimulate, preferably in controlled situations that allow for brief periods of socialization and play.
In addition, maintaining a predictable daily routine can help reduce anxiety and mental uncertainty, and educational toys that provide snacks provide fun and mental stimulation.
Nutritional supplements that can help improve mental deterioration in older dogs include
Commercially available products to support cognitive function
Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), such as coconut oil
Jellyfish P.E., resveratrol, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola, and phosphatidylserine
Please discuss with your holistic veterinarian the appropriate dosage for your dog.
Paying attention to the above points will result in a healthier growth of your furry friend and will help him enjoy a happier life for the rest of his life.