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13 Tips for Caring for a Senior Dog

While no dog parent wants to think about their pet getting older, the aging process is a natural part of every dog’s life.

The age that your dog is considered a senior will depend on their breed and size, but all breeds will need different accommodations as they age to keep them happy, healthy, and comfortable.

Read on for 13 senior dog care tips that will help your beloved companion live a long and comfortable life.

1) Keep Your Dog Active

Regular exercise, even in old age, is important for managing your senior dog’s weight and fighting off disease. That’s why it’s so important to keep your senior dog active.

Keep your older dog as active as possible, but modify the exercises as needed to keep their joints comfortable. A brief, strenuous walk or some time in the pool can be perfect exercise options.

2) Feed an Age-Appropriate Diet

As dogs age, they develop different nutritional needs than younger dogs, so it’s important to modify their diet. Many popular dog food brands sell specific senior food formulas that feature appropriate vitamins and nutrients for your dog’s life stage.

Talk to your vet to learn when it’s time to make the switch to a senior diet. They will also be able to advise you on choosing the right food to keep your aging dog healthy.

3) Schedule Regular Checkups

Regular vet exams are even more important for senior dogs. Growing older brings with it a weakening immune system and a higher likelihood of illnesses or developing health conditions.

Some of the most common health problems in senior dogs include joint pain, hearing loss, kidney disease, and heart disease. In addition, older dogs are more susceptible to weight gain and obesity.

Regular checkups help your vet catch a potential issue early on, giving you the best chance for treatment. So, make sure to schedule more frequent visits to the vet, and don’t hesitate to mention any changes in your pup’s behavior or habits as soon as you notice them.

An older dog

4) Keep Your Dog Hydrated

Water is a key part of keeping your dog’s body healthy and functioning the way that it should.

As your dog ages, they may have trouble locating their water dish or be disinterested in drinking water. But it’s crucial to try new ways to encourage them to stay hydrated. Add water or bone broth to their food, and keep plenty of fresh water bowls around your home.

5) Use Pet Ramps in Your Home

Many older dogs develop joint-related issues, and they may struggle with mobility, especially with activities that put a lot of pressure on their joints like jumping or climbing stairs.

Adding ramps around your home, especially to their favorite places like the couch or your bed, will ease pressure from their joints and make it easier for your dog to live their happiest life.

6) Upgrade Your Dog’s Bed

Just like humans, dogs can develop aches and pains throughout their bodies, and those aches can be worsened by an uncomfortable or unsupportive bed.

To help keep your dog comfortable, upgrade their bed to an orthopedic option. These beds are specially designed to support your dog’s joints and muscles while they sleep.

7) Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth

Your dog’s oral health is just as important as their physical health, and it can have a huge impact on their quality of life as they age. Over 80% of dogs over the age of three have active dental disease, and that can lead to pain, tooth removal, or other complications later in life.

To protect your dog’s teeth, brush them regularly with a dog-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste, and visit your vet twice a year for a professional cleaning.

A senior pug

8) Add Traction to Your Floors

Hardwood and tile floors can be tough for dogs that struggle with mobility to walk on, leading to more pain and discomfort.

Improve the traction on your floors by adding rugs around your home, especially in places that you know your dog frequents. If you don’t have non-slip rugs available, you can also use yoga mats.

9) Elevate Your Dog’s Food and Water Bowl

Some senior pets struggle to lower their heads down into their food and water bowls as they age. To help keep your dog as hydrated and well-nourished as possible, elevate their bowls throughout your home.

You can buy specific elevated feeders or place their current bowls on a low bench or elevated surface that’s easy for them to reach.

10) Talk to Your Vet About Supplements

Every dog’s needs are different and adding supplements to your dog’s diet can help target the specific areas of their health that need improvement. Supplements like omega-3s and glucosamine can help support your dog’s bone and joint health, as well as promote a healthy coat, for example.

Your vet will also be able to tell you whether your pup is deficient in specific vitamins that you may need to supplement in their diet.

11) Add More Enrichment to Your Dog’s Routine

Physical exercise isn’t the only important activity to keep up with in your dog’s routine – mental enrichment is just as important, if not more so, as your dog ages. Playing games that stimulate and challenge your dog’s brain can help improve their cognitive health, and it also offers a great opportunity to spend time with your pup.

Consider adding games like hide-and-seek to your daily routine or try puzzle toys with your dog.

An old Labrador

12) Use a Dog Support Sling

Sometimes your senior dog will need a little more support during the day. Whether that’s getting into the car for their vet appointment or even just walking around the house on especially uncomfortable days.

A dog sling or lifting aid helps you take the pressure off their joints and give them the support they need to still be mobile.

13) Watch for Signs of Discomfort

As your dog ages, their comfort is most important, and it can sometimes be difficult to tell when your four-legged friend is in pain. Your dog can’t talk to you, but they can communicate their discomfort with subtle cues, so always be on the lookout for those signs.

Watch for signs like limping, difficulty changing positions, and bathroom accidents. If your dog even seems uncomfortable, it’s time to book a vet appointment right away.

Help Your Senior Dog Live a Long, Happy Life

While aging is a normal part of every dog’s life, there are many ways pet parents can delay signs of aging – or at least help their dogs live more comfortably. With these tips, you can improve your senior pet’s health and provide them with the support they need to live their happiest life.