As our furry family members grow older, just like us, they start to show signs of ageing.

Although some changes are to be expected, it's important to ensure they're as comfortable and content as possible during their golden years. By understanding what changes to look out for and how to support our ageing dogs, we can greatly enhance their quality of life.

 

Spotting changes in your older dog

Watching for signs of ageing helps us respond to our dog’s needs effectively:

Slowing down

It's normal for senior dogs to take things a bit easier, but if your dog hesitates before climbing stairs or struggles when getting up, it might be more than just old age. This could be a sign of arthritis or joint pain.

(There are some useful resources on the Canine Arthritis Management Facebook page here )

Napping more

Older dogs love their sleep, but too much could indicate low energy levels due to health issues like thyroid problems or even heart disease.

Seeing and hearing less

A decline in senses is common but watch for signs like not responding to noises they once did, or bumping into furniture, which can indicate it’s time for a vet visit.

Talk about pain

Always discuss pain management options with your vet. Modern veterinary medicine offers a range of treatments from medications that can help to keep our older dogs pain free and happy.

Top Tip: Regular health checks with your vet can help distinguish between normal ageing and more serious health issues.

 

Feeding your ageing dog

Nutrition plays a key role in managing age-related issues and preventing health problems:

Watch the calories

An overweight senior dog has a higher risk of health problems like diabetes and heart disease. Adjust their diet to lower calorie foods that still pack all the necessary nutrients. Feeding a complete food specifically for senior dogs can ensure that their health needs are being met for their life stage.

Fibre is fantastic

Fibre aids digestion and can help keep your senior dog regular, which is especially important as their metabolism slows.

You can also purchase fibre supplements to ensure that your senior dog is getting all the fibre that they need. 

Joint-friendly foods

Look for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids and glucosamine, which help maintain joint health and mobility. Adding fish oils to their food can also help to meet this need and keep them in good health.

 

Gentle exercise for older dogs

Exercise is crucial but should be adjusted to your dog's current abilities:

Easy does it

Keep walks short but frequent to maintain mobility without overexertion. Swimming can also be a great low-impact exercise if your dog enjoys water.

Brain games

Mental stimulation remains important. Use enrichment to challenge their minds or teach them new, simple tricks to keep them sharp. Simply hiding some dry food in a rolled-up towel can prove an effective bit of enrichment for an older dog to engage in.

Leisure time

Many older dogs will also enjoy a simple perch to be able to watch the world go by. This may be the best spot in the home to watch the whole family going about their day or playing neighborhood watchman at the window. Creating a comfortable space for them to do this can be hugely positive for their wellbeing.

 

Did you know? Regular gentle activities can help reduce the risk of obesity, keeping your senior dog healthier and potentially extending their lifespan.

 

Making home comfortable

Look at ways to create a living space that supports your ageing dog’s needs:

Keep necessities close

Ensure their bed, food, and water are easily accessible, ideally on the same floor where they spend most of their time to avoid stairs.

‘Just right’ temperatures

Older dogs may struggle with extreme temperatures, so add extra blankets in winter and provide a cool, shaded spot in summer.

 

Top Tip: Consider non-slip mats or carpets over slippery floors to help your senior dog to navigate around the house safely and avoid slip injuries.

Caring for a senior dog brings its unique set of challenges and joys. While it can be a time of adjustment as we tune in more closely to our ageing companions' needs, it's also a period filled with opportunities to deepen the bond we share with them.

Remember, the support and love you provide during these golden years can make a significant difference in your dog's quality of life.

We're committed to helping you every step of the way. Keep an eye out for more posts and resources on this topic in the future—we'll be exploring more ways to enhance your senior dog's comfort and happiness, providing you with the latest advice and innovative care options.

Whether you're looking for tips on nutrition, exercise, healthcare, or simply how to make the most out of this special time together, we've got you covered.