It’s fair to say that there are few things that bring us all together quite like a love of dogs. No matter who you are or what kind of background you have, chances are you love dogs.
After all, dogs have left their paw prints all over the halls of power. Pablo Picasso and Marilyn Monroe were big dog lovers, the court of the Ming Dynasty featured Shih-Tzus as literal lapdogs, and the Queen’s corgis have become sensations in their own right.
If you’re a dog lover, you want to make sure that your dog has the best care and quality of life from their first yapping puppy days to their Golden Years as a faithful old friend. That means making sure that they get the best care possible. Here are a few ways you can ensure that your faithful four-legged friend gets the best care possible as they begin to age.
- Talk to Your Vet
First and foremost, you’re going to want to make sure you have a vet who can help attend to your dog. It is generally advisable that we as human beings see a doctor every year, and the same goes for dogs. That’s especially true when they start getting up there in years. Your veterinarian is one of the few people besides yourself who knows your pet well, so their opinion when it comes to matters such as new nutritional programs and mobility is invaluable.
- Give Them Plenty of Exercises
As paradoxical as it may seem, as our bodies start to give out, it becomes all the more important to work out and push them. The same holds true for older dogs. From both health as well as happiness perspective, it is vital that your dog be able to remain as active as possible.
Take your dog for walks whenever possible, just be aware that they may not be able to walk as far or run as fast as they used to. You can also buy them a few more toys for them to play with and work in some light cardio like the occasional low-impact game of fetch. Teaching new tricks to old dogs is also a great way of making them active, both physically and mentally.
Doing so can help keep your dog in better shape, which in turn can help with mobility issues. If your dog does start to slow down, don’t force them to keep up immediately. Take things slowly, account for their advancing age, and push them gently towards getting the exercise they need. If they pull a muscle, break a bone, or are too stiff to move without difficulty, see your vet as soon as possible.
- Dog Wheelchairs
Speaking of mobility, as your dog gets older, it’s entirely possible they may need a wheelchair. As with human beings, sometimes this is due to injury and infirmity, and sometimes it’s simply due to old age. What’s more, some dog breeds are especially susceptible to hip dysplasia and other injuries as they get older, which makes dog wheelchairs all the more important.
These wheelchairs can help your dog get around with ease, affording them a wide range of mobility while allowing them to retain some of their independence as they go about their daily routine. (And yes, that means dogs in wheelchairs are still able to “do their business” without assistance or being removed from the unit.)
Quality veterinary made dog wheelchairs can run in the mid-$300s range and come in different varieties, so in keeping with the first point, you’ll want to confer with your veterinarian and ask them which type of wheelchair is best suited for your dog.
- Take Care of Their Teeth and Gums
You need to make sure that your dog’s oral hygiene is at least on par with where they were as younger dogs. A rotten mouth won’t just lead to bad breath, but it can likewise leave your dog with painful gums, rot their smile to the point that their teeth fall out, and leave them in a lower emotional state.
A great way of taking care of their oral hygiene is to give them sugar-free healthy dog treats. They will help in promoting healthier teeth, stronger gums, as well as fight bad breath and plaque.
- Making Your Home Elderly Dog-Friendly
As people get older, it becomes more important for them to live in places that can accommodate their needs. You don’t see too many 90-year-olds with weak knees living in two-story homes with massive staircases. Likewise, you’ll want to make sure to do everything in your power to make getting around your home easier for your dog. Some tips you can follow here include:
- Making doggie doors wider and more easily accessible
- Installing a ramp to make it easier for your dogs to get inside or reach elevated areas
- Making sure your dog doesn’t have to face extreme heat or cold
- Placing your dog’s food and water dish on a footstool or similar item to save your dog from having to bend over so far to eat or drink
With these tips, you’ll be able to help ensure your dog lives in dignity and comfort in their twilight years.