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7 Tips For Caring For Senior Dogs

Senior dogs are a blessing and deserve to have every day feel like their best. That's why we spend so much time trying to help dogs like our girl, Wynter, to live free from pain and as healthy as possible.

Senior dogs require different care than younger dogs, which means changing their diets, tending to their bodies' needs, and making sure they are getting the right kind of exercise. For pet owners, we know that our days are limited after a certain age, and most of us will do almost anything to help extend that time with our best friend.

Hopefully, we will show you a few new ways to keep your older dog living their best days ever!

What is A Senior Dog?

Most vets will agree that after age seven, dogs are considered a senior.  An average lifespan of a dog is 12-15 years.  Our dog, Wynter, is 14.  But breeds also are taken into consideration on how long a dog typically lives.  

Smaller dogs usually live longer than giant dogs like Great Danes. Wynter is a Jindo, and they have been known to live 18-20 years!  So we are hoping for the longer side of that with her.

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Our visits with her vet now come every 6 months instead of yearly visits.  We do different tests, and we are always looking for signs that she might be struggling, like becoming confused, less responsive, or have issues eating. 

Even though she hasn't gone gray yet, we see that Wynter has started to sleep more and runs out of energy a little faster than she used to. 

Now she likes to be tucked in at night with her favorite kitty blanket, she gets more jerky treats just for getting up when it's cold to go outside, and every day I'm so unbelievably thankful for the years she's given us.

So we've collected a few tips that we use with her to help her feel her best. 

Tips For Caring For An Older Dog

Just like taking care of a new puppy, living with an older dog means the humans in the family need to adapt to a new world. 

Schedule More Frequent Vet Visits

Our visits with her vet now come every 6 months instead of yearly visits.  We do different tests, and we are always looking for signs that she might be struggling, like becoming confused, less responsive, or have issues eating. 

We talk to our vet about everything from how long she sleeps to how much CBD we are giving her to keep her joints moving freely so she can keep chasing birds out of our yard. 

Don't keep anything from your vet, and they are your asset for helping your dog live a long life. 

Choose the right diet for aging dogs.

Most senior dogs need fewer calories than they did in their youth.  They aren't running as much, and maintaining a healthy weight is crucial to preventing injuries, easing joint pain, and preventing heart disease. At the same time, there is a lot of information on what to feed your puppy. Learning how to feed your older dog can be a little challenging.

A diet high in Omega-3 fatty acids like, Bixbi's Liberty Fisherman's Catch can push off canine cognitive dysfunction or Dog Dementia.  This helps them to maintain mental alertness and 

Look for high-quality food made in the United States that uses fresh meat that isn't highly processed. Never use any dog food that uses meat meal

Did you know that meat meals used in many dog foods can contain questionable ingredients, including parts from diseased animals??  This can even include meat from euthanized animals, and the food that your pet eats can contain traces of the drugs used to put those animals to sleep. 

So be picky!

Wytner and Riley

Use more care around children and stressful situations.

Many senior dogs become less patient around children or situations where loud noises occur.  This stress can cause them to react differently than they ever reacted as youthful dogs. They might appear disoriented or even act aggressively when stressed.

Wynter has never liked thunderstorms, but recently she's become more upset during fireworks and loud music.  We help her give her a quiet room and a little extra dose of CBD to calm her nerves.  It doesn't make her drowsy, but it seems to relax her more.

Take shorter and slower walks.

It might seem like your canine pal isn't enjoying going on their daily walks as much as they used to. But don't stop the exercise. Your older dog needs this special time with you and to keep its body flexible and strong.

Let them rest in an orthopedic dog bed.

We noticed first that getting up and down seemed to be when Wynter began to ache a little more.  But when we got her an orthopedic dog bed, she seemed much less stiff and uncomfortable. 

Keep them mentally stimulated. 

The saying that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is far from true.  In fact, older dogs need to learn new tricks to keep their brains healthy! From learning new games to play to work on problem-solving with puzzle feeders, keeping your dog thinking keeps them excited about life. 

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Treat each day like it's the best day ever.

Our last tip is just as much for the humans as your aging dog. The mindful act of waking each day with the intention of having the best day with your dog gives them excitement, joy, and better health. Dogs are in tune with us, and they know when we are worried, scared, and stressed. 

Wynter was trained to be my service dog and for many years was no further than 3 feet away from me for most of her life. The day we realized it was time to retire her and leave her at home, I actually cried all day.  But she had “burned out,” and it was causing her too much stress and anxiety to continue to keep working.  

I believed for a long time that she was sad every time that I left her.  But the reality was that she noticed my anxiety and sadness and reflected it for herself. And the day that I woke up intending to give her the best day ever… even when she's left at home.  She bounced back to her normal happy self, even when I left.  

Set the intention for your dog and yourself that each day is the best day, and see how much life with your senior dog improves.  

Caring for a Senior Dog is an honor.

Our time may be short, but the memories and great love that I've had with all of my dogs in life's journey has been the best.  I've loved many dogs in my life, but my time with Wynter has been nothing short of a great honor.  

She's walked with me through moving across the country TWICE, losing several family members, watching my children grow from babies to adults and leave our nest, and she's never let me down. 

Now that she's gotten older, a little slower, and maybe even wiser, I know it is also my responsibility to ensure she's getting the right nutrition, health care, and I'm making sure to keep her body as healthy as I can. 

We will continue to bring you new articles for caring for your dogs, the best recipes for our canine kids, and topics related to pet health.  Thank you for checking out our health tips for senior dogs.

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