The following are some tips to help lengthen your senior dog’s life:
Regular exercise is great for the body and brain. Physical fitness can help keep your dog’s heart and lungs in good working order, help keep their joints and muscles in check, prevent boredom to help stop any destructive behavior and give them a sense of purpose.
Exercising your senior pet doesn’t mean that they have to tear up an agility course for hours on end or hike up the Squamish Chief in under an hour twice a day. Only exercise your dog at a level their aging body can handle. Swimming is always a great workout for weak joints and muscles. A couple moderately paced 20-minute walks every day can also work wonders for keeping your senior dog in shape. Being outside is also great for your senior dog’s mind. There are many stimuli to keep their brains sharp and fresh air will always brighten spirits.
When indoors with your dog, play games such as hide-and-seek or practice tricks (yes, you really can teach an old dog new tricks!) for low calorie treats. Keeping busy with different activities and games throughout the day will give their senior brains a new lease on life.
Keeping your senior dog’s body nice and lean will help prolong their life. Extra weight visible on the outside of their bodies also means there is extra fatty tissue around their organs, which could cause them to have a hard time working efficiently. Having to carry all that extra weight around means more strain and stress on their joints. Be careful not to feed your senior pet too many treats. It is always a great idea to meal feel them set amounts of food twice daily. Your veterinary team can help you to determine what their ideal weight should be and how much food you need to feed to reach the target weight goal.
Brushing your dog’s teeth provides much more benefit than fresh breath. It helps eliminate plaque and tartar buildup, which help prevent gingivitis. Decreasing the amount of bacteria lurking in your dog’s mouth will help keep their internal organs working in tip-top shape. When their gums are swollen and irritated, the blood vessels become enlarged and are able to pick up bacteria to transfer around the entire body. Brushing your dog’s teeth once a day is ideal. Be sure to use a toothbrush with soft bristles and a toothpaste designed especially for dogs.
*Warning* Below are before dental prophylaxis and after dental prophylaxis photos of a dog’s mouth:
Daily petting fests can often help you find lumps and bumps on your dog in their early stages of development. Your veterinarian can take a fine needle aspirate sample from the lump and determine what kind of cells it is made up of. Some lumps should be removed immediately; some lumps are ok to be left alone and just monitored. Hands-on attention to your dog could also help you find any skin irritations hiding under their hair or you may notice they have dry, flaky skin. A flinch or cry when petting in a certain area may alert you to take your senior dog to their veterinarian to have the cause of pain investigated further. Being petted and massaged makes your dog happy and helps lower their blood pressure and stress level, as well as yours.