How to keep an older dog healthy

Throughout its life, a dog has different needs. In this post we explain what to take into account for the good health of a senior dog.

Every day, we are more people who live with our faithful friends at home. Without going any further, the statistics already point to a growth in families with dogs to the detriment of families with children under 15 years of age in Spain.

Before living with a dog, we usually inform ourselves about what type of dog (size, personality, activity …) best suits our lifestyle, how to educate it from a puppy, what care it needs, etc. However, as time passes, we may overlook a relevant aspect of the animal’s life: how to keep it healthy and fit in its old age.

The needs of a dog are different throughout his life and the care we give them must cover these needs to achieve optimal health and vitality, contributing to their quality of life and an enriching and rewarding dog-human relationship.

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At what age is a dog old?

It is not easy to define when a dog can be considered old, due to the wide variety of breeds with different characteristics that exist today. In addition, their physical and mental state will give us important information about the physiological deterioration of the animal, rather than its chronological age.

It is estimated that the maximum life of a dog can reach 27 years and the average life expectancy 13.

There are important differences if we consider the size of the dog: large and giant dogs tend to live less than small and toy dogs.

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What do we consider a healthy elderly dog?

It is important to clarify what we consider for a healthy dog ​​and for this we must make a distinction between physical and mental health.

From the physical point of view are talking about a healthy elderly dog ​​when it does not have serious illnesses or physical injuries that prevent it from developing its day-to-day life with ease.

On the mental plane, a healthy dog ​​is one that knows how to manage the moments and emotions that it feels in each one of them. We are talking about a dog that knows how to deal with excitement, anxiety, boredom, frustration, aggressiveness, etc. Colloquially, we could say that it is a dog with “knowing how to be”.

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How to keep an older dog physically healthy?

During adulthood, when the dog has reached maturity, it is in what is called a “maintenance state.” At this stage, a dog must enjoy a balanced and nutritionally complete diet and physical exercise appropriate to its activity needs and character.

However, when the dog reaches an advanced age, physiological changes are observed that will condition its needs and care.

Given the general and natural deterioration of the body, it is important to act with preventive care, which will directly influence both the longevity of the animal and its quality of life in the senior stage.

An older dog must be adequately fed and for this, it is essential to choose the one I think that best suits your needs both for your age and your physical condition (diseases or deficiencies). At this point, it is our trusted veterinarian who can best guide us.

Generally speaking, an elderly dog ​​needs less energy, adjustments in fiber intake and in the selection of protein sources and levels, the addition of ingredients with antioxidant power and others that maintain good oral health, supplements to improve skin and coat. and to cushion their skeletal and muscular degeneration.

When it comes to physical activity, We can help our senior dog by incorporating a series of adjustments to his day-to-day life.

To begin, we must reduce the duration and distance of the walks and we will increase, in the same way, the number of walks you receive per day. Thus, you will go out more times to retain your needs for less time and your body will accuse the physical effort to a lesser extent.

We will also try to play with him in a less explosive way. Games with a lot of physical loads must be relegated or must be modified and adapted to the possibilities of our partner.

Finally, regular visits to the vet can help us prevent future problems.

How do I know if my dog ​​has dementia? What is your treatment?

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How to keep an older dog mentally healthy?

At the behavioral level, there are also a series of changes related to the advanced age of the dog, most of them associated with degenerative diseases and other geriatric changes.

A senior dog may be more listless, less active, with a worse tolerance to exercise, suffer from altered appetite, or have less resistance to stressful situations, for example. All this will influence not only your physical condition but also your mental one.

Regarding his mental state, we must understand that, with age, mental processes stop developing with the same speed, they are slowed down.

Aware of this, at this stage, we will be able to teach our dog certain kinds of exercises in daily life (do not pull on the leash, come to the call) to help his head remain structured; and some tricks (paw, sit, lie down, play dead) to be able to play with him in a calmer, but also fun way. In addition, the fact of asking him for an order or a trick will not only be to his liking, but it will keep his mind in shape.

How to keep an older dog healthy

In conclusion, we must re-educate ourselves with new habits to interact with our senior dog, thus seeking that your body structure continues to hold in a healthy way and that your mind remains awake.

Let us also be aware that no matter how much care we provide to our elderly dog, it is natural that its capacities will atrophy over the years. Our mission is, therefore, to provide you with a good quality of life for as long as possible.

Do you have an older dog at home? Let us know how you relate to the rest of the family!

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