Caring For Senior Dogs: How Can I Improve My Senior Dog's Health?

As our canine companions age, their health and wellness needs can change significantly. Caring for a senior dog requires a tailored approach to ensure they maintain the best possible quality of life. If you’re wondering “How can I improve my senior dog’s health and longevity?”, you’ve come to the right place.

How Can I Improve My Senior Dog's Health

One of the best things you can do as a dog owner is do your research and find out how you can care for your senior dog and improve their health as they age. This way, you can help to keep your canine companion healthy, pain-free, and active well into their senior stage of life. 

Today, I have my senior dog Honey with me to help explain the process of caring for older dogs and ways to improve an old dog’s health.

Stephanie’s done a great job of looking after my health as I’ve gotten older – I feel fantastic! That could just be my amazing genetics, though…

The key to supporting a senior dog’s health is a multi-faceted approach that addresses their unique physical and cognitive needs. “So, how can I improve my senior dog’s health?” Let’s dive in.

Key Tips for Caring for Older Dogs

I’ve given lots of great advice in this article (with some help from Stephanie), so you should be well-prepared to care for your dog as they get older! Remember, always ask your vet if you have any questions about your senior dog’s care, diet, or health. 

As dogs get older, their needs change slightly, and as owners, we must keep up with these changes. Grooming needs to be gentler, they’ll need more frequent vet trips, and their diets will change. 

You’ll also need to consider their mobility, offering softer and more supportive surfaces for them to walk and rest on. Their exercise needs will also alter. 

General Care Changes For Senior Dogs

We all know our dogs might need a slightly different diet and exercise routine as they age. However, many of us don’t think about the other ways you might need to change your daily dog care when your dog becomes a senior. 

Here are some of the changes you might need to make to your general dog care routine once your pup starts getting older:

Caring for Senior Dogs How To Improve Your Old Dog’s Health

Groom Gently ​

Your senior dog may feel more sensitive as they get older because they’ll be more prone to general aches and pains. 

When it’s grooming time, be extra gentle, and also take the opportunity to check for any sore spots, lumps, or anything out of the ordinary. Grooming is also a great way to maintain your bond with your pet as they get older and can’t run and play like they used to. 

Provide Home Entertainment

You may need to change your dog’s outdoor exercise routine as they age, which we’ll discuss in more detail later. 

If your senior dog isn’t going outside as often, you should try to provide as much enrichment in the home as possible. That could mean getting more toys and accessories, or even investing in some fun puzzle feeders.

Personally, I think my puzzle feeder would be better if it just gave me the food without the puzzle… But it does keep me from getting bored!

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More Frequent Nail Trims

Another change you may need to implement alongside your dog’s new exercise routine is more nail trims. 

Since your dog’s nails won’t be worn down on the ground outside, you need to ensure you stay on top of the length of your pup’s nails. Overly long nails can cause pain and make it difficult to walk.

Get Regular Vet Checkups

get regular vet check-ups for your senior dog

Most vets recommend bringing your dog in for a checkup once a year unless they are having concerning symptoms that warrant more frequent appointments. 

However, once your dog gets a bit older (around 8 to 10 years old), it’s wise to take them to the vet more often (at least twice a year) to ensure any surfacing health problems are caught early. 

Going to the vet isn’t exactly my idea of a good time, but Stephanie usually gives me a treat if I’m a good girl, so it’s not all bad… 

Feeding Senior Dogs For Optimal Health

Consult Your Vet About Diet Changes

In general, senior dogs need fewer calories, and the calories they do consume should be low in sodium while remaining high in protein. That’s because older dogs have slower metabolisms and will need dietary support to maintain a good amount of muscle since they will move around less. 

Senior dogs need protein to make up 25% of their daily intake. 

That said, your dog’s optimal senior diet will depend on numerous factors, such as their breed and any existing health conditions. Therefore, you should talk to your vet before changing your dog’s diet. 

Bear in mind that a senior dog’s sense of taste might become weaker as they get older, so some older dogs, like Honey, might get fussier about their food with age. 

I’m not fussy! I’m a sophisticated lady with a refined palate!

Monitor Eating And Drinking

Be on the lookout for any changes to your dog’s eating and drinking routine. 

As I said earlier, it’s normal for an older dog to get fussy – sorry, develop a more refined palate – with age. Therefore, your dog leaving some food in their bowl or turning its nose up at what you give them might not be anything to worry about. 

However, loss of appetite can be a sign of many different things, from stomach sensitivity to kidney failure. So, be sure to report any changes to your vet. 

Encouraging Mobility And Comfort For Senior Dogs

You should strive to provide your senior dog with a good balance between exercise and rest while making sure everyday movements aren’t too much of a struggle. Here’s how you can do precisely that:

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Rearrange For Accessibility

Your senior dog may be unable to jump up onto places as easily as they could when they were younger. So, consider moving beds and bowls to places that don’t require jumping or climbing steps. 

Ideally, keep your dog’s belongings downstairs so they don’t have to constantly go up and down the stairs all day. 

Short, Frequent Walks

“How can I improve my senior dog’s health through walking?” Opt for a shorter, more frequent daily walking routine.

Instead of taking a couple of longer walks each day, try to take your dog outside for shorter periods of time more often. 

This is partly because your senior dog might need to go to the bathroom more frequently and partly because they’re likely to get tired more quickly but still need enough exercise to maintain a healthy amount of muscle and expend their energy. 

To learn more, read our tips on how to walk your senior dog.

Allow For More Rest

Make sure your dog has a calm, quiet, and comfortable place to sleep between walks. 

Your senior dog might need more naps, so they will need a comfortable bed, ideally with plenty of support. Honey loves snoring away in her orthopedic bed these days. 

Hey! I’m not the only one who snores in this house! But it’s true that my new orthopedic bed is very comfortable and helps keep my joints pain-free. 

Protect Against The Elements

“How can I improve my senior dog’s health against the elements?” Since senior dogs may be more susceptible to the cold and other harsh weather conditions, consider buying your pup a coat for outdoor walks and an extra blanket for nap time.

Provide Better Floor Grip At Home

If you have a lot of laminate or hardwood flooring in your home, you may want to add more rugs so that your senior dog can get a better grip on the floor as they walk or run around. This will help to prevent injuries and encourage your dog to keep moving around as usual. 

Conclusion: How Can I Improve My Senior Dog's Health Overall?

By addressing these key areas, you can significantly improve your senior dog’s health and help them thrive in their golden years. Remember, every dog is unique, so be prepared to adapt your approach as needed to meet your senior pup’s individual needs.

We trust that this article on Caring for Senior Dogs, focused on the question “How can I improve my senior dog’s health?”, delivers clear answers for you!

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