Increase your canine companion’s lifespan and improve his quality of life with these helpful tips!
World Pet Memorial Day is a day to remember the cherished pets we’ve loved and lost. As a tribute to them, let’s take steps to offer the highest quality of care to our existing companions.
Here’s five ways to help extend your dog’s lifespan and make his golden years as happy and comfortable as possible.
1. Keep his body and mind active
Your senior dog won’t be as active and energetic as he used to be, but he still needs regular exercise to prevent obesity and keep his body in good working order. Walk him regularly or engage him in light play – just don’t overdo it! Stop the activity when he shows signs of tiring or wants to rest.
As for his mind, remember that senior dogs can suffer from memory loss and cognitive problems as they age, so mental stimulation is crucial. Socialize him regularly, and take the time to teach him new tricks or training commands. Invest in a couple puzzle toys, and introduce new toys now and then to refresh his interest.
2. Feed a wholesome diet
It’s never too late to switch to a healthy diet, as long as you do it gradually and under the guidance of a vet. There are many high quality premium foods to choose from, made from natural, whole ingredients – and it’s usually not necessary to feed a diet specially formulated for seniors. Add in supplements such as antioxidants, essential fatty acids, digestive enzymes and glucosamine – plus 24/7 access to fresh, filtered or spring water – and you’ve got a recipe for good health!
3. Groom regularly
Good hygiene is important for older dogs, especially those with allergies or skin problems. Switching to a healthy diet will help a lot with shedding, itching and odour, but also consider regular bathing and grooming. Use a natural shampoo and conditioner, and avoid brushing with too much pressure when grooming dogs with arthritis. Approached with an attitude of patience, love and calmness, grooming can become an enjoyable bonding activity for both of you.
4. Don’t forget dental health
Periodontal disease affects dogs of all ages. If not dealt with early on, it worsens with age, causing pain and leading to gingivitis, tooth loss, and infections that can spread to the organs. Use a dental spray or clean your dog’s teeth using a toothpaste and brush specially formulated for pets. Raw meaty bones can help keep your dog’s teeth and gums clean, strong and healthy. Raw vegetables such as carrots are good too.
5. Limit vaccines
Many dog owners are now aware of the risks of over-vaccination. Too many vaccines can cause a wide number of side effects, ranging from fever and stiffness to kidney and liver disease. These risks increase as the dog ages, especially if he’s compromised by illness. Rather than scheduling a full set of annual vaccinations, ask your vet if she can do a titer test. This inexpensive, blood antibody test will tell you if your dog is still protected against certain infectious diseases, and if he can get by without being re-vaccinated.
Even with the best of care, an aging dog is more prone to health problems than a puppy. Many of the disorders found in senior dogs, such as cancer, diabetes or kidney disease, may not show visible symptoms until they’ve become relatively advanced. It’s therefore important to get your elderly buddy checked over by a vet once or twice a year. A vet can catch the earliest signs of illness and start a treatment regime to help slow the disease’s progress and extend your dog’s lifespan.
This World Pet Memorial Day, remember that you don’t need a miracle elixir to add years to your beloved dog’s life. All it takes is a wholesome diet, a healthy lifestyle and lots of TLC!
Animal Wellness is North America's top natural health and lifestyle magazine for dogs and cats, with a readership of over one million every year. AW features articles by some of the most renowned experts in the pet industry, with topics ranging from diet and health related issues, to articles on training, fitness and emotional well being.