Senior dogs have something special. They have a specific appeal. It could be the slowly creeping greyness, the cloudy eye or the amused feeling that we get when we don’t know whether the dog hasn’t heard us, or is simply ignoring us. Whether we live with an elderly dog that we have known since birth, or we adopted an unwanted adult there’s a sweetness to the oldie. A perfection that a puppy can’t quite match.
Dogs get old at different times, whilst one breed may be senior at ten, another will be barely middle aged. Nonetheless they don’t have the lifespan that they should and as time marches on, we suddenly realise that the super social dog has started taking himself upstairs to bed at eight pm.
Whilst the oldest dog on record was thirty years old many dogs don’t get to that grand old number, yet there are some things we can do to ensure that an elderly dog doesn’t need to be infirm.
Holistic care means that we look much more closely at how we consider health. Holistic means physical, psychological, social and emotional health. Areas of health are so deeply connected that there is no credible way to look after only one area and still believe that the dog is healthy in all the others.
Is your senior dog happy emotionally? Does he still get to use the social skills he did when he was younger? Does he get to use his brain and his body in equal measure? Coaching, play, enrichment and an interesting environment should never stop when the dog becomes less physically active, if anything they should be adapted to make sure he can enjoy them even more.
Remember to keep his muscles strong, because they will protect the older dog’s joints. Bespoke, varied walks and carefully chosen quality supplements will keep your friend active and physically strong.
Senior Dog Diet
Don’t be fooled into thinking that any old kibble labelled senior dog diet from the supermarket shelf will do. Often generic dog foods have very little nutrition in them. As a dog gets older, the natural digestive enzymes in the gut and digestive system stop being effective and reproducing. Your senior dog needs good and fresh food to help his gut flora stay strong. Include cooked meats and veggies in his daily dinners and your dog will stay stronger for longer.
Signs of Health
Be vigilant in checking your senior dog’s health. Carefully check his or her body daily for lumps. Watch the dog’s mood, energy levels and enthusiasm. How happy is he? How much fun has he had today and what can you do to make sure he stays vital and interested in life. As a dog ages, he might get aches and pains, confusion or even canine dementia. His immune system will need extra care as a happy life is a huge immune booster whilst stress has the effect of rendering immunity incapable.
Here’s a surprising fact, few animals die of old age, disease is usually the factor that calls to the end of a senior life. This can be cancer, diabetes or any number of common diseases. There are pro-active lifestyle steps we can take on the behalf of our senior dogs that can stave off disease and ensure that age for our dogs, does not mean that they get old!
We owe them that, right?