Cannon’s formerly pale yellow muzzle is now a blended white. He has more “age” around his eyes - I do, too - but the rest of his body looks younger because he’s fit. I imagine that if my dog could talk, he may feel like I do about age, “I feel so young at heart!”
Is your dog 7 years old or older? If so, he’s now considered a senior. Although your dog probably won’t get to enjoy the discounted movie prices and discount grocery store days that senior humans may receive, there is still a lot about senior doggie life to relish. Some activities that were harder when he was an enthusiastic teenager are perfect now; an oldster may be a great therapy dog or a great restaurant patio companion.
How can you ensure that your buddy feels as good as possible and maintains his health? Here are my top 5 tips:
Keep that annual vet visit.
Be sure to see your veterinarian for your dog’s annual appointment. Among other things, your vet can help you stay on top of preventative medicine by doing the recommended blood work panels for senior dogs and by suggesting supplements, such as glucosamine or fish oil. Your vet will help you notice any symptoms of arthritis, hearing loss, or vision loss. Have any lumps and bumps looked at to rule out other potential issues and to give you peace of mind! Often lumps and bumps are just harmless skin tags or fatty tumors.
It’s easier to skip walks when your senior dog is happy to join you on the sofa after your long day at work, but fitness is important. Even if walks need to be shorter, be sure your dog gets some mileage. Even a few five-minute walks each day are valuable! Also consider taking your dogs for separate walks if your senior dog needs a slower pace or shorter distance. If you have a safe place to swim your dog, swimming is a fantastic and low-impact exercise. I rent a doggie swimming pool weekly and my dogs love it. Swimming is the main reason Cannon still has so much muscle. Do you want extra credit? Consider doing doggie stretches or doggie exercise ball “pilates.” For example, check out the fitness DVDs by Debbie Gross Saunders. Finally, keep in mind that your dog’s fitness needs and pace may be very different than another dog of the same age and breed.
Chat with your vet about what food is best for your furry friend – should he be on a senior food? Don’t overdo the food or the extra snacks! Both nutritional value and the amount of food you give your dog impact his health and weight. Too heavy may mean too much weight on his joints.
If you can walk your dog occasionally on soft turf instead of concrete, do that. Keep in mind a flatter surface is easier than a walk filled with rolling hills and rough terrain. Instead of letting him jump up and down, consider lifting your dog to and from the car, sofa, and your bed. You could even use a platform so he can climb up and down more easily himself. I use a leather storage chest as a step for Cannon between the floor and my bed.
Upgrade the dog beds.
Invest in memory foam or some sort of orthopedic bed. My dogs choose the higher quality beds over the cheaper beds in my house!
You’re primed for canine seniority now! Stay tuned for my future blog about doggie fitness ideas beyond walking or for other blogs that will help you.
The information provided in this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your veterinarian. Always consult your veterinarian with questions about your pet’s health and before initiating any treatment regimes.