Teaching an old dog new tricks: Best food for senior dogs
Teaching an old dog new tricks: Best food for senior dogs
Whether you’ve had your dog for years, or you’ve recently adopted an OAD (that’s old-aged-dog to me and you) there’s no better place to be caring for your pet than at home. With moderate exercise, a balanced diet and regular veterinary visits, you can ensure your pet has one heck of a retirement!
In dog world, exercise can mean anything from tug of war to ‘dog zoomies’ on the beach. But for an old aged dog, like one who might be suffering with osteoarthritis, you may need to rethink the kind and amount of exercise they’re getting.
Let’s start with what you can be doing indoors:
Whilst your senior dog might be apprehensive to step outside for a run around, there is plenty that can be done to keep your dog active inside the house. Providing an environment which encourages play whilst mentally stimulating your dog means that your dog has the option to play or chillax. Giving them the power of choice means that you won’t overwork your dog.
However, if your dog is feeling super clingy and doesn’t want to play, then simply moving around the house with your dog will get them moving their all-important bones and joints. It needn’t be as tedious as going up and down the stairs five times per day, but by regularly moving rooms your dog in turn will be using their muscles to travel around the house.
Of course, a lot of this depends upon the health of your dog and therefore consulting your vet on exercise is essential.
…and the great outdoors:
Just because your dog might be prone to a senior moment every now and again, their love for the outdoors will never change. Don’t be tempted to stop taking your dog out for daily walks (even if you do have to walk slowly). Again, the length/terrain etc. of these walks should be discussed with your vet to ensure they’re getting a walking experience tailored to their age and capabilities.
If your dog is indeed suffering from osteoarthritis or other degenerative disorders, then swimming make a great alternative for exercise. Swimming is particularly beneficial for keeping the muscles working whilst ‘resting’ those sensitive joints or for dogs who may have suffered some kind of injury. Again, double check with your vet to be sure.
The most important thing: know when to stop. There might be a temptation to keep playing Frisbee with your dog when their tail is wagging away, and whilst they might be enjoying it now – their bodies simply aren’t built for hours of non-stop play. Monitoring how long your dog is exercising for, in addition to their hydration etc. is key to taking care of your dog.
Senior dog’s diets often consist of bland recipes and a cocktail of prescribed medications. But after years of standing by your side surely, they deserve better? You’re totally right and we’ve conveniently put together what to look for in the best dog food for mature dogs.
Less calories and more fibre
Due to a decrease in physical activity, senior dogs don’t require as many calories within their diet as adult dogs and puppies. By not exercising as frequently, calories can quickly translate into your dog carrying excess weight – another common problem in senior dogs. That’s why we suggest you opt for a diet which contains less calories and more fibre such as fish recipes.
Fish is at the forefront of nutrition for both human and doggy diets and has been established as a key ingredient within best senior dry dog food reviews. Oily fish, such as salmon, provides your pooch with fatty acids and Omega 3, leaving them feeling fresh whilst reducing any inflammation. Other ingredients to look out for include Glucosamine, Chondrotin Sulphate and MSM which ease joint pain and therefore assist mobility.
Read more about specially formulated dog food for senior dogs here.
Little and often
With age, your dogs appetite may change. Whether this is a loss in appetite or feeling that extra bit hungry, it is important to monitor how much your dog is eating and their weight. Whilst your vet is certainly your best source of knowledge for knowing what and when you should be feeding your dog, we recommend a diet of little and often for pets who’s appetites are sporadic.
Why go dry?
Dry food is ideal for senior dogs as you can conveniently leave it out all day (see above). In addition to this, dry food packs in all the nutrition required by elderly dogs whilst keeping teeth strong, clean and healthy. However, if your dog is missing teeth, finds eating difficult due to illness or has limited kidney function, then experts may recommend a wet food for ease of eating – again, check with your vet.
We can’t stress enough the importance of consulting your vet when discussing your senior dog’s health. By scheduling frequent vet visits you are provided with expert knowledge when it comes to identifying and monitoring your pet’s health. Whilst you might believe that your pet is still a pup deep down, it is important that once they reach a ‘certain age’ (on average 7-9 years old) to get them examined by the experts.
Get them chin wagging
As with elderly humans, socialising senior dogs is key to fulfilling a happy life. Perhaps you’re wanting to socialise an old rescue dog, or just simply think your dog needs a little TLC from a fellow four-legged friend – there’s no reason why socialisation shouldn’t be a part of your pets life.
Canine catch ups
Canine catch ups can be anything from hosting picnics for pooches to taking your dog on walks with their favourite doggy friend. This engages dogs in low-pressure socialisation and may even encourage dogs to behave more actively.
Human interaction is just as important to your senior dog as interacting with fellow dogs. When nipping out to do errands, bring your dog along so they can breathe some fresh air and meet some new friendly faces. Dog’s love meeting new people so even just waiting outside the post office may very well make their day.
Who’s a good boy?
Whilst puppies are most receptive to learning new tricks, don’t underestimate your senior dog. By teaching your dog tricks and reinforcing good behaviour you will continue building a relationship with your dog. At the end of the day, they are man’s best friend aren’t they?
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