It’s the one thing as pet owners we hate talking about. The taboo subject that we all ignore and avoid (both in humans and animals!) Aging. That one little word that fills us with dread. Now this blog will hopefully make dealing with your dogs (or any pet for that matter) a little easier and less daunting!
I only realised a few weeks ago that Isla is now technically ‘senior’ when I had to put her date of birth down on an entry form! That realisation prompted me to write this blog!
Firstly, just because your dog has reached a certain age doesn’t mean they are old and should stop doing things they love. You’ll probably find it is doing those things that is keeping them young, fit and healthy. It just means they have reached a point in life where things may be not running as smoothly as they once were and a little support will help slow the signs of aging down.
There are lots of things you can do to support your dog, from supplements to brain games, lifestyle changes and veterinary monitoring.
Nutrition plays a huge part in supporting the older dog. Many diets have a senior range which may have increased levels of Glucosamine & Chondrotin which helps support joint health and delay signs of arthritis and stiffness, reduced phosphorus levels to help support the kidneys and special mixes of amino acids that can help brain function.
Jelli and Isla are both fed Guru and Forthglade and although Guru doesn’t have a ‘senior’ diet, it’s jam packed full of the good things to help support older dogs including that fabulous Glucosamine & Chondriton combo and the addition of some yummy green lipped mussels which have proven benefits to help reduce inflammation in the joints! We add forthglade wet food as a topper to the Guru, Jelli enjoys the Forthglade ‘Just’ wet food but Isla has moved to the Senior Trays which have double the Glucosamine & Condroiton than the 2 months + range and the same yummy blend of camomile, nettle, Rosemary and parsley. It also comes in two delicious flavours – Chicken or Turkey.
Whilst thinking about the additional nutrients Isla needs, it’s hard to increase some things using food alone. This is why every day she gets an Animology Senior Capsule! Formulated to include important vitamins and amino acids that aging dogs need. For example the Amino Acid Taurine is included which can help maintain a healthy heart and Carnitine which can help stop fat deposits building around the heart and liver impairing how they work. They come in pots of 60 and dosed at one a day, priced at £12 they are cost effective at only 20p a day! There are lots of other important ingredients all contributing to the health of your dog!
Lifestyle is a huge factor to consider too! A dog who is a bit of a couch potato may be more inclined to put on weight and find it harder to mobilise. So it’s super important to keep your dogs weight within a normal range as this will have less pressure on the joints and reduce fatty deposits around the heart and lungs. Isla is a very active dog and still enjoys 15 mile walks on Exmoor, agility lessons and swimming!
After any exercise it is important to make sure any pet is warm and dried off thoroughly afterwards. Older pets will particularly appreciate this as it will stop their joints seizing up and getting still, especially if they have a little bit of arthritis already. After a long walk or a swimming session, Isla is wrapped up nice and warm in her Ruff and Tumble drying coat. This keeps her warm, dries her quickly and also stops the car getting mucky!
There are a few things you can do around the home to make your pet more comfortable. This may be more applicable to much older pets but worth bearing in mind.
As your pet ages, problems with sight may be more prevalent. Cataracts are very common and if left untreated will result in blindness. Keeping furniture in the same place will help your pet if they do lose their sight as they will be able to memories areas and navigate them safely.
If your pet does develop arthritis and they start finding it harder to jump on the sofa or in and out of the car, there are ramps and blocks you can buy to help them without the need for you to lift them which may cause discomfort for you if they are large dogs and also stops the risk of them being dropped if they are wriggly or heavy!
Dogs with arthritis may also find it harder to get comfortable when sleeping, or indeed chose to sleep more as they find it uncomfortable to get up and move. Investing in a memory foam style bed will provide much more comfort for your dog and support their bones and joints in a natural position! Isla has a rather large memory foam bed from Orvis which is big enough for Jelli and Bracken to all snuggly up on too!
Brain games are great for dogs with limited mobility too as it can mentally stimulate and tire them without the need for long walks and physical exercise. This could be something as simple as a KONG toy stuffed with food to a more complex game such as the Nina Ottosson puzzle games. Isla has one of the level two games which she loves!
Finally a trip to the vets every so often isn’t always a bad thing. Lots of veterinary practices offer free of charge clinics with their nurses to check things such as blood pressure, kidney function and general well being. Some things may be chargeable like blood tests but did you know that before you notice signs of kidney failure (thirsty, weight loss, vomiting, lethargy plus many more) 70% of the kidney function may be lost already! So having regular check ups will pick things up sooner so they can be managed and treated appropriately.
So getting older isn’t all doom and gloom! It’s an excuse to treat your dog to some new treats and food and make sure you enjoy every day to the fullest!
Thanks for reading our blog – all thoughts are our own and if you are worried about your dog then call your vet for advice!