As we get older, it is important to keep ourselves active in both mind and body. Exercising our muscles with physical activity and our mind with mental activity. Doing puzzles and playing games stimulates the mind while the occasional jog keeps muscles healthy; both of which will better your chances of a longer life. The same goes for your aging canine best friend.
Older dogs begin to suffer ailments similar to those of a senior person. Their joints stiffen and their muscles no longer work as well as they used to. This is why it is important to keep them active and healthy as they move into their senior years. The best way to do this is to provide both an environment with mental and physical stimulation coupled with excellent nutrition. What comes next in this article are a few guidelines to follow but be sure to consult your veterinarian to know your dog’s ideal diet and activity level.
In the colder months when you and your dog spend more time inside, it is important to provide ample physical and mental stimulation. Providing treat-dispensing or easy-to-chew toys is a great way to keep your dog’s mind and jaw active. If your dog can move around without pain, try tackling stairs every so often to keep your dog’s muscles and joints active.
Training your old dog to do new tricks is another great way to keep his or her mind and body active. Try naming one of your dog’s toys and teaching him or her to bring it to you once they learn it’s name. This trick will work their mind while getting them up and moving around.
As we get into the warmer months, try to give your dog at least three 15 minute walks during the day. During these walks, take your dog on new routes and allow him or her to sniff. New routes come with new sights and smells that help to stimulate your dog’s mind while they exercise. If daily walks are not possible, make sure not to overwork your dog on the weekend by trying to make up for the missed exercise during the week.
In addition, try taking your older dog to new places entirely. New dog parks and trails allow even more stimulation for both body and mind. Who doesn’t appreciate a change of scenery once in awhile anyways? Also, consider a supplement, like our Steadfast Canine, to give your dog extra support against orthopedic issues. Steadfast Canine provides strong, total structural support for bone and soft tissues while addressing the pain and inflammation associated with arthritic conditions and can be taken to both prevent and heal injuries.
Next, as your dog ages, his energy requirement lessens and his metabolism slows. These two things combined can cause obesity relatively easily if your dog is not eating the right food. This is why it is important to feed your older dog food specific to their age. Senior dog foods are lower in calories and higher in fiber which helps to improve gastrointestinal health.
Providing healthy low calorie snacks and treats are another important component to healthy nutrition. Low-fat and low-sodium treats are just as appealing to your dog minus the higher calories and additives found in other treats. Although we, as humans, may not like them as much, fruits and vegetables are another great snack for your dog. Foods like carrots and blueberries provide excellent nutritional value in a tasty snack. For more information, check out our blog post called “Superfoods For Your Super Dog”.
As with humans, aging dogs require changes in their diet and activity load. Although they may want to lay around all day, it is important to keep them moving and their minds stimulated by providing new toys and taking them to new places. Lastly, as your dog ages his nutritional needs change requiring less calories and more fiber. Keeping your dog active and well nourished is the key to a long and happy life.
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