Is your dog’s hair, especially around the muzzle, turning gray? It may be hard to believe, but it’s a tell-tale sign that your furry companion is stepping into the senior stage of its life. While the average age range varies depending on size and breed, canines are considered senior at around eight to 12 years of age. 

Now, just because your furry friend has reached the age where it’s considered senior, it doesn’t mean that its health will go downhill overnight. The aging process in dogs is similar to that of humans, i.e., slow and gradual. However, if you care for your aging furry friend properly from the outset, you can improve its quality of life. 

Here are a few ways you can care for your canine companion in its senior years and keep it happy and healthy: 

#1 Feed Your Dog a Healthy Diet

As your furry friend ages, its dietary requirements change. You cannot keep feeding it the same food you did when they were middle-aged. 

Senior dogs have lower energy needs, and they tend to be less active. Their metabolism also slows down due to decreased activity levels and muscle mass. Feeding them high-quality dog foods can lead to weight gain, which will contribute to heart diseases and joint problems, such as arthritis. 

To prevent unhealthy weight gain, stick to premium-quality dog foods with low-calorie density, i.e., fewer calories per cup. Look for foods that are made with high-quality protein sources, as your senior canine companion requires protein to produce antibodies and maintain its muscles. 

Also, instead of feeding it twice a day, you should distribute its daily intake over several smaller meals. This way, your furry companion won’t have to digest a large meal in one go.  

#2 Keep Your Senior Dog Active

One of the biggest mistakes you can commit while caring for a senior dog is to limit its physical activities. Just because your furry friend is getting old doesn’t mean that walk and playtime will come to a halt.  

Over time, the mobility and stamina of senior dogs decrease. That means you will have to adjust your senior canine companion’s exercise routine accordingly. 

Go on walks often, but keep them short. If your furry friend can run, take it on a jog. 

Regular exercise will also help in maintaining muscle joints. If you don’t start an exercise regime for your canine furry companion, it will become obese. However, do not push your furry friend too far. Putting unnecessary stress on your senior dog’s body can cause injury. 

As senior dogs struggle with chronic conditions such as arthritis, it’s best to choose low-impact exercise. Gentle hikes and swimming are low-impact exercises considered beneficial for older dogs. These exercises provide a full-body workout without putting unnecessary strain on your furry companion’s joints. 

#3 Double Up on Vet Visits

Your senior canine companion needs to visit the veterinarian more often than it did while it was young. That’s because older dogs are more prone to infections than young ones because of weakened immune systems. 

Many times, canines appear healthy outwardly, but they suffer from many diseases that aren’t apparent. As a vet conducts a thorough wellness exam, they can detect the health issues your canine companion might be going through, if any. 

When visiting the vet, don’t forget to ask about the supplements and preventive medications you can give your aging canine companion. 

Chondroitin and glucosamine, for instance, help protect the cartilage in your senior dog’s joints. These supplements have also been proven to manage osteoarthritis pain. Likewise, the Furosemide oral solution helps treat fluid accumulation and swelling caused by heart failure and a host of other health issues. 

Rapid heartbeat, lack of urination, anemia, and other blood-related problems are associated with Furosemide oral solution, notes PetRx. That is why we advise you to consult your furry friend’s vet about the correct dosage of the medications you intend to give. 

#4 Senior-Proof Your Home

As your canine companion ages, you will have to optimize your living space according to its needs. Replace your furry friend’s old bed with an orthopedic bed. This will provide relief against existing joint pain and prevent other issues, such as arthritis and dysplasia. 

If you live in a two-story or three-story home, keep your furry friend’s food and water downstairs. That’s because climbing stairs is difficult for senior dogs. Place non-slip rugs or carpets on the flooring to provide a stable walking surface for your aging canine companion. 

Also, install pet ramps and teach your furry friend how to use them to get into vehicles or beds. 

The Key Takeaway

Seeing furry companions age is overwhelming for every pet parent. While you cannot reverse the aging process, small changes in the exercise regimen, food, and environment can make a huge difference in your canine companion’s quality of life. 

Also, pay close attention to your senior dog’s health and needs. Be sure to take it to the vet twice a year for checkups. Shower your furry friend with lots of love and spend time together— that’s what senior dogs cherish the most.