Health & Wellbeing

How to Care for a Senior Dog: 10 Simple Tips

A quick guide to see their golden years shine.

Knowing how to care for a senior dog will give them the best chance of living out their twilight years happy, healthy and content.

As dogs grow older, they may need more time to rest, their eyesight or hearing may not be what it used to be, and getting up out of bed gets that little bit harder (just like us)!

From diet changes to dental care, mental enrichment to joint support, there’s quite a few bases to cover to ensure your senior dog enjoys a high quality of life.

But it doesn’t have to be complicated. Follow these simple tips to care for a senior dog, so you can best support your best friend.

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10 Simple Tips to Care for a Senior Dog

woman lovingly holding an old dog

1. Feed a balanced diet

Knowing how much to feed a senior dog – and how to feed a senior-specific diet – is key to meeting their nutritional needs and weight management.

Although what’s considered ‘senior’ depends on specific breeds, in general, dogs can benefit from being moved to a senior diet from around seven years of age.  

Look at incorporating senior dog superfoods into their meal plan, and consult your vet for advice on the best diet for your aging dog.

TIP: If you have younger pups in the house, make sure your senior dog doesn’t have to compete at mealtimes. This may mean feeding them separately or at a different time.

2. Create a comfy living space

As dogs age, they’ll need more rest and sleep.

So, it’s important they have a good quality dog bed, such as an orthopedic dog bed, to support their joints and body.

Providing easy access to things they need, such as their dog food and water bowls, and their favorite dog toys, is a good idea too.

If you have smooth or hardwood floors, be aware these can be slippery and especially difficult for older dogs to keep their grip. 

To help your senior dog move around more easily, you could try these top-rated anti-slip dog socks, or this popular dog mat that also cleans your dog’s paws.

3. Schedule vet check-ups

Regular health checks are increasingly important as your best friend gets older to monitor their health and catch potential issues early.

Having pet insurance can make managing vet expenses much easier, although it’s true that pet insurance for senior dogs can be difficult to find, as many providers only insure dogs under a certain age. 

So if possible, having dog health insurance in place as early as possible is a good idea.

4. Exercise them daily 

To keep your senior dog’s weight within a healthy range, it’s best to walk them gently, and often.

Your dog may have loved big long runs back in the day, but senior dogs are likely to find it increasingly difficult to go on extended walks. 

So, the best approach is to tailor regular exercise to your best friend’s physical abilities.

For ideas, here are easy exercises for senior dogs you can do at home

senior border collie laying down

5. Regular groom sessions

Grooming your senior dog regularly will help you keep on top of any skin issues (such as hot spots) and maintain their overall hygiene.

Because senior dogs typically exercise less, they may need their nails trimmed more frequently too.

Besides, your dog may even enjoy a gentle grooming session – it’s basically a practical way of spending quality time together!

6. Dental care

Did you know that neglecting your dog’s dental health can lead to severe heart, lung, liver, kidney, and brain issues?

A consistent dental routine not only maintains strong teeth, gums, and fresh breath, but can also extend your best friend’s lifespan. 

Regular brushing your dog’s teeth, providing dental dog treats and chew toys, and having a vet check your dog’s teeth every six months, will help keep any serious issues at bay.

7. Joint support & arthritis

Senior dogs can experience the same level of pain from arthritis and joint inflammation as humans do.

If your dog’s movement starts to stiffen and slow down, the first step is to consult your vet and discuss suitable treatment options.

Joint supplements (such as Rose Hip Vital Canine) are one of the most effective treatments for dogs with orthopedic issues, and can easily be added to your dog’s diet.

8. Mental stimulation

Maintaining a good quality of life for your older dog isn’t only about supporting their physical needs – providing mental stimulation can vastly improve their overall health and happiness.

Engaging your dog with enrichment tasks keeps their mind active and alert, and helps to combat canine dementia, anxiety, and depression. 

Toys and puzzles are a good way to keep older dogs entertained and mentally stimulated in their twilight years, while slow feeder dog bowls provide extra enrichment at meal times.

senior great Dane portrait

9. Have a flexible routine

Consistency in all aspects of your senior dog’s care – feeding, daily walks, and playtime – will help keep your best friend calm and secure day-to-day.

However, too strict a routine can be counterproductive – causing your best friend to become overly reliant and stressed.

For example, you could feed meals in the same area of your home but at varying times, switch up their enrichment toys and activities, and go on short walks in different locations.

10. Watch for behavioral changes

As your dog grows older and their body changes, it’s important to monitor them for any signs of pain or discomfort.

Needing the toilet more frequently is common in senior dogs, so be aware you may need to let them out more often.

If your dog’s eyesight or hearing begins to deteriorate, they may be startled by sudden sounds – so take care to avoid unexpected loud noises also.

As always, it’s best to consult your vet for expert advice if you notice significant changes in your dog’s behavior.

Last word on caring for your senior dog

We hope this guide to caring for your senior dog provides a good understanding of how you can best support your furry best friend as they grow older. 

Creating a routine around their health and wellbeing needs – and being mindful of potential physical and behavioral changes – can make a big difference to your senior dog’s overall comfort and happiness.

Follow the advice above, and you’ll both surely enjoy their golden years to the full.

woman hugging old dog

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