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As our pets age, it’s important that we adapt the way we care for them to suit their evolving needs. Your dog may slow down, but that doesn’t mean they can’t continue to partake in the same activities the two of you love to do together. It’s just a matter of making a few tweaks to suit their changing physique.
Here’s how to spot when your dog is aging and how you can adjust their diet, exercise routine and lifestyle to help them age as comfortably as possible.
The age at which dogs are considered seniors varies depending on the size of the breed. Generally, small dogs are considered seniors around age 11, while medium and large dogs are deemed seniors between ages 7 and 10.
While the age may vary, the signs are the same. As your dog becomes a senior, you might notice their fur becoming gray around the face, their energy level may decrease and they are likely to show signs of feeling stiff in the joints.
If your dog is getting on in years, the following are some tell-tale signs of old age to watch for:
● Hearing loss
● Cloudy eyes and vision loss
● Lower energy
● Stiffness in movement
● Tooth decay or gum problems
● Fluctuation in body weight
● Fatty lumps on the body
When you begin to notice these changes, it might be time to make some lifestyle adjustments so your dog can age comfortably.
One of the most-common issues that affects aging dogs is joint discomfort. In fact, osteoarthritis affects 80% of dogs over the age of 8. Osteoarthritis occurs as joint cartilage wears down, causing the joints to become inflamed. Because this is such a prevalent issue in dogs, pet owners should do everything they can to maintain their dogs’ joint health by reducing inflammation.
Feeding your dog a balanced diet packed with wholesome, anti-inflammatory foods (such as moringa oil and krill oil) will help fight inflammation in the joints, while keeping their energy levels even and weight under control.
Common foods with anti-inflammatory properties include sweet potatoes, blueberries and alfalfa. Speak with your vet about how you can work these into your dog’s diet safely.
A healthy diet will, in turn, work to prevent obesity, which is common in older dogs and only adds additional, unnecessary strain on your dog’s joints.
Gentle exercise is another great way to help an aging dog maintain muscle tone and slow the stiffening of their joints.
Exercise is just as important for senior dogs as for young ones. Exercise helps your senior dog stay limber, offers mental stimulation, maintains muscle tone and helps keep their weight down.
It’s natural for dogs to begin to slow down and show signs of stiffness as they age, but you should continue to exercise them. You just have to adjust your routine to accommodate their needs.
If your dog is experiencing joint discomfort or struggling to keep up with a once-rigorous exercise routine, replace that routine with lower-impact activities.
While you and your dog may have once enjoyed jogs around the neighborhood, switching to walks will be less stressful on your aging dog’s joints. Depending on your dog’s energy and mobility levels, you also might make your walks shorter than usual. Instead of one long walk, opt for multiple shorter walks spaced throughout the day.
Swimming is a fantastic way to exercise your aging dog without stressing their joints. If your dog happens to enjoy swimming, find ways to make it a bigger part of the exercise routine than you have in the past.
A balanced diet and a consistent exercise routine are the foundation of healthy aging. Even once your dog begins to slow down, regular, gentle exercise will help keep them lean, limber and in good spirits.
If you notice your dog experiencing discomfort due to joint stiffness, you might wish to consider administering a CBD product. Purity Preferred Pet CBD products are created with pets in mind. The Purity Preferred Hip & Joint formula supports joint mobility in dogs and may help ease discomfort associated with daily exercise and activity. Always speak to your vet before administering a CBD product to make sure it’s a good fit for your dog’s lifestyle.
Aging is inevitable, but remaining conscientious of your dog’s physical changes will let you help them grow old comfortably and maintain mobility for as long as possible.
Janine DeVault is a freelance pet writer, animal rescue advocate and former celebrity dog walker. She has worked with a variety of pet-industry clients and specializes in writing pet lifestyle content. She lives in Mexico with her three rescue pets — Maia, Fosi and Kesi.
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