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As our dogs age, their bodies and needs start to change. They might become a little more stiff and fragile, and more sensitive to extreme temperatures, and they’ll even need some changes in their diet to maintain proper nutrition. Paying close attention to our senior dogs will help them live happy, healthy lives well into their golden years. If you’re looking for ways to make your senior dog more comfortable, consider these tips.
Provide Comfortable Places to Rest
Senior dogs are usually a bit less active than their younger counterparts. This is normal, and we want to make sure they have enough places to rest. Because our dogs like to be near us, it’s a good idea to consider adding more dog beds to your home, if you don’t have more than one already. Giving your dog somewhere comfortable to lie down will greatly improve their comfort and relaxation. It’s especially important to give your dog a soft option in places where you have tiled or hardwood floors. These cold, hard surfaces can cause added pain and stiffness to their joints and muscles. Even if your dog likes to lie on the couch or bed, you might want to offer a bed in your living room or bedroom, so that they doesn’t have to jump up and down as often.
Stay Mentally and Physically Active
Just because your dog is old in body doesn’t mean they’re old in spirit! Your senior dog will still want to spend quality time with you, and exercise will help keep their body strong and mind active. While they might not be able to run and play for as long as they once did, making sure they get outside is still important. Keeping your dog active allows their body to keep moving and stay loose rather than being stiff and painful. It’s also essential for them to get plenty of mental stimulation! They’re still the same dog that likes to go on walks or meet new people, so allow them the opportunity.
Set Up Dog Stairs and Ramps
Just like people, dogs can experience stiff joints and decreased mobility as they age. Our dogs still want to be by our side wherever we go, so helping them get up and down stairs, on and off of furniture, and in and out of the car will be greatly appreciated. Using a ramp or steps to help your dog get around will reduce the pain and make being near you an easier task.
Be Mindful of Temperature Changes
As our dogs age and their bodies change, they become more sensitive to outside conditions. Senior dogs, regardless of breed, are more susceptible to hot and cold weather, so make sure you’re able to keep them cool during summer and warm during winter. Fans and air conditioning will help with heat, while coats will help with cold. Add some more blankets to their beds, and even consider keeping a coat on your dog while they’re inside if it’s extra chilly out. Your dog will need a little extra help staying comfortable, but it’s simple to do.
Adjust Their Diet
In the same way your dog will need different nutrients in their senior years, they’re also going to need a different amount of calories. A drastic increase or decrease of weight in senior dogs is relatively common. They can either get too many calories and become overweight, or struggle to maintain a healthy weight because their muscles are weakening and they’re becoming thinner. Work with your veterinarian to make sure your dog maintains the appropriate weight.
Schedule Regular Veterinary Check-ups
As your dog ages, you’re likely to visit your veterinarian more often, since so many potential ailments are associated with increasing age. Joint pain and mobility issues, weakened immune systems, and other age-related illnesses often set in during your dog’s senior years. If your veterinarian recommends it, be prepared to take them for checkups more than once a year. This will help with early detection and treatment of the illnesses that are associated with aging.