There is no better example than a dog to show that affection and companionship have a healing power that surpasses all scientific explanations. Animal-Assisted Therapies (AAT) and the empirical evidence of the effects that a dog has in reducing the time of convalescence in hospitalized patients are proof of this.
The care and love that we give our dog, coupled with a healthy lifestyle, not only contributes to slowing down the aging process, but also improves their quality of life in future years.
Well-informed dog parents that care about protecting their pets from diseases or injuries can contribute to reducing the effects that the aging process has on their dog.
Thus, we have put together a list of resources that provide information about:
- the most frequent disorders that could affect a dog’s health;
- the advancements of science and medicine to reverse or delay aging;
- the most effective anti-aging supplements and treatments for senior dogs; and
- the perfect nutrition and exercise plan for optimal health.
Caring for your senior dog in an integral way implies considering different aspects of the canine life that could be affected by the aging process and implement solutions adapted to this new stage on your dog’s life.
Since inactivity affects your dog’s longevity negatively, keeping your pooch active is key. You need to work together with your veterinarian to decide the perfect nutritional supplements, best preventive approaches and treatments for managing their overall wellbeing. However, there are many actions that you, as pet parent, can take all along your fur baby’s life as well as during their golden years to ensure they live a happy and healthy life.
Turn your love for animals into a rewarding career!
5 Pillars For A Fulfilled Old Age
1. Healthy food and adequate nutrition
While dry or canned foods can be specially formulated for each stage of a dog’s life, in reality, many people choose other types of food for their gourmpets. As it is the case with trends in human nutrition, the incorporation of natural fruits and vegetables have contributed to organic and homemade foods becoming part of the current canine diet.
Regardless of which type of food you have chosen for your dog, it is important to avoid obesity and poisoning, and ensure adequate nutrition at each stage of their development.
A diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 and vitamins E and C will help maintain a healthy brain longer as well as avoid cognitive deterioration.
Omega-3 fatty acids are present in several dietary supplements with multiple positive effects. They act as a coadjuvant in the treatment of type II diabetes and certain types of cancer as well as in the control of the level of fat proteins in the blood (hyperlipidemia), which increases as a consequence of a less active metabolism characteristic of old age, among others. Like any nutritional supplement, a veterinarian should be the one to prescribe them, when considered to be appropriate for your dog.
Healthy eating and regular physical activity in their early years are an investment in their health, which will yield great results as they grow older.
A simple observation test will let you find out if your dog is overweight. Avoiding obesity is essential to alleviate tension on the bones and muscles and prevent diabetes. But beware! Weight management in the elderly is more complex than simply feeding them less, as the levels of calcium, phosphorus, vitamins, etc., should be adequate in order to counteract the effects of aging. If after performing the test, you discover that your senior dog is overweight, consult a veterinarian or a specialist in animal nutrition.
2. Regular exercise
Physical activity and games help maintain the blood supply of all the organs and tissues, allowing the arrival of oxygen and nutrients to all the cells of the body.
Keeping an active elderly dog implies having a regular walking routine, adapting the rhythm and physical activity to their abilities. It also requires ensuring that their joints are healthy, pain free, and comfortable enough to exercise. Do not push your dog and minimize joint impact to avoid injuries and possibly worsening the inflammation and pain produced by arthritis, so that they can stay active longer.
It is important to understand that a decrease in sight, hearing and mental acuity could make your dog feel insecure and stressed, even in situations or places that are habitual to them. Although a routine helps keep a senile dog calm and it is not advisable to force any dog to perform an activity that makes them feel threatened, offering them new games, socialization opportunities as well as new toys will help exercise the most important part, the brain.
Interactive toys are specially designed to stimulate mental acuity. They are not only used to raise the IQ and favor the cognitive development of the puppy, but also to keep the brain of older dogs active and healthy.
Canine sports are a good way to keep a dog active throughout its adult life. In addition to being designed to stimulate different natural canine abilities, an experienced trainer will be able to adjust them to the age and condition of each dog.
3. Adequate coat care and grooming
A regular grooming routine, combined with 15 minutes of brushing daily are important for the health and well-being of your senior dog. The moments dedicated to hygiene are useful to discover health problems that are not noticeable otherwise. Skin conditions, fleas, warts, hairless spots and even cysts in the breasts or other parts of the body are some of the signs that can be visible during a bath or grooming session, such us brushing of the hair or teeth.
Whether you have a trustworthy groomer for your dog or you take care of their hygiene and maintenance yourself, older dogs need special care and considerations in terms of hair, baths, teeth, ears, eyes and nails.
4. Recognizing signs of aging and age-related diseases
It is important to know and be attentive to signs and symptoms of the most common diseases in dogs, especially those related to old age. A consultation with a veterinarian when any suspicious symptoms arise can be crucial to acting quickly and preventing the health of an older dog from deteriorating.
A well-informed pet parent will maximize a dog’s quality of life and prevent them from developing diseases or experiencing an injury. Being aware of the body changes associated to the aging process, as well as the most frequent health disorders, dog live healthy and longer. How To Quickly Identify Age-Related Problems
5. Keeping in touch with animal health professionals
Both conventional veterinary medicine and holistic or alternative medicine offer options that, under the supervision of the veterinarian, can contribute to improving the quality of life of older dogs.
Beyond the scientific discussions regarding their effectiveness, these practices are more and more popular for treating ailments in humans and, in recent years, in pets.
Some of the most common alternative therapies are: Hydrotherapy, Aromatherapy, Naturism, Chiropractic and Massage Therapy, Osteopathy, Homeopathy, and Acupuncture.