Spring is officially around the corner, and for dog owners, that means more time spent outdoors and hopefully being more active. For those who have a senior dog, the level of activity may have dropped since their younger years, but that doesn’t mean your dog doesn’t love getting outdoors, or being active inside with you. So, with that said, here are five tips that can help keep your senior dog healthy and active all spring and summer long.
Allow Your Dog to Set the Pace of Activity
While you may assume that it’s best to just let your dog nap and rest all day since they are moving a little slower as a senior, this is the exact opposite approach you want to take. Making sure they stay physically active will help to keep joints loose and limber. It also helps to keep their body weight at a healthy level, is a wonderful bonding activity, and the physical activity is great for their mental health.
So, what can you do if your senior dog is just moving at a much slower pace? The simple answer is that you let them dictate the pace of the activity. If they don’t want to go hard when playing and going for walks, don’t force it. Just the fact that they are moving around is fantastic. From there, you can let them set the pace so that they don’t over-do it.
If you are going for long walks in the summer, be sure you not only go at their pace, but that you also give them breaks, and that you bring a supply of fresh water to keep them well hydrated.
Stay on Top of Vet Visits
Of course, it’s also important to stay on top of regular vet visits for your senior dog, even if they appear to be quite healthy and active. It’s always wise to take your dog for a yearly check-up, as the vet may be able to spot potential issues and address them before they become a bigger problem. It also ensures that you’re on top of all the necessary vaccinations that keep your dog safe and healthy.
When visiting the vet, it’s a good time to ask any questions you may have. You can also have your dog weighed to ensure they are a healthy weight, get their nails trimmed, have their teeth and gums looked at, and even check the quality of their coat/fur as this can tell a lot about a dog’s health.
Ensure Your Dog Maintains a Healthy Weight
When it comes to the best things you can do for the health of your senior dog, most vets are in agreement that maintaining a healthy body weight is essential. Even a little bit of extra weight can really affect their health as they age as it puts extra stress on their joints and muscles. It can also cause arthritis to flare up, as well as lead to breathing problems, heart conditions, skin issues, benign fatty tumours, and of course, it can negatively affect their quality of life. All in all, it’s best to maintain a healthy body weight.
One of the best ways to keep them at that ideal weight is to feed them a good quality food, ensure you aren’t over-feeding them, and skip the treats throughout the day. These steps alone can have a massive impact.
Consider Giving Your Dog Joint Supplements
If you’ve been noticing that your dog is moving around a little slower, perhaps feeling a bit of pain and stiffness in the joints, then it could be worth looking into joint supplements. Joint care for dogs can enable them to feel better overall, which means they will likely be much more active. You can easily find joint tablets for dogs, including those specifically meant for senior dogs such as yours.
One company that specialises in joint care for dogs is YuMove, which features a selection of supplements. Their Essential Joint Support Plus+ is meant for older dogs that are experiencing that stiffness in their joints that is all too common. This supplement can help with easing that stiffness and help to increase their overall mobility.
Introduce Newness into the Mix
Sometimes, it may not be physical limitations that are holding your senior dog back – it may be sheer boredom. The whole ‘been there, done that’ mentality could be sinking in. A great way to combat this issue is to take them to new places they can explore, buy them some new and different toys to have fun with, and even get out and meet other dogs. This could be all it takes to give them their pep back.
By following these tips, you’ll be ensuring that your dog stays healthy and active for the coming spring and summer seasons.
Other Tips That Will Keep Your Senior Dog Healthy and Active
Schedule Your Walks
If the temperature is high, you should hold off on taking your dog for a walk because dogs cannot tolerate the heat as well as people can. Even on a warm day, dogs have a higher risk of overheating, and this risk increases while they are active.
Consider taking your dog out for a stroll very early in the morning or very late in the evening, when the temperature is substantially lower, or engaging in some mentally stimulating activities inside the house instead. When preparing for a stroll, keep an eye on the forecast and make sure to take frequent rests in the shade.
Add or Change Water Frequently
Always make sure that your dog has access to water, especially when the weather is warm. When you go out with your dog, you should always bring a bottle of water and a bowl with you so that he or she can drink from one of those.
Watch Out for Heat Stroke Signs
When temperatures reach dangerous levels, dogs can suffer from heatstroke. When a dog is unable to bring their internal temperature down, they are at risk of developing heatstroke, which can be fatal. This can take place not only when the temperature is high but even when it is merely warm. Because it requires immediate care from a veterinarian, it is essential to be aware of the symptoms and know how to prevent them from occurring.
Even if they do nothing more than sit outside in the heat for a short period, certain types of dogs are more likely to suffer from heatstroke than others. These dogs include those that are overweight, young, old, flat-faced, giant-breed, and thick-coated.
Protect the Paws of Your Dog from Heated Surface
The paws of your dog may experience discomfort if they walk on hot surfaces like asphalt or sand, which can be caused by the sun. If you are unsure, you should check it out for yourself. If the temperature is uncomfortable for you to touch, there is a good possibility that your dog is experiencing the same thing; therefore, you should aim to keep your dog in grassy or shady locations instead.
Your dog’s fur will remain clean and free of knots if you brush or trim them regularly. This will also contribute to your dog staying cooler. Consult with an experienced groomer as they will be able to advise you on what would work best for your dog and the coat that they have.
Careful When You Are Planning to Swim Your Senior Dog
When the temperature is higher, it may be tempting to try to coax your dog into going for a swim. Be aware that some locations may not be safe and may have strong currents that may be hazardous, as well as algae and germs that may make your dog sick.
Instead, you should look for clear, clean, shallow streams that your dog can paddle in for a short while to cool off. You should also make sure that you provide them with separate clean water in a water bowl so that they can drink it, and you should continue your walk during the cooler parts of the day.
Dogs Must Never Be Left in Cars
Dogs can get stressed and uncomfortable very fast and can develop heat stroke very easily if they are left alone in a hot car, even if the windows are open and the car is parked in the shade. Leaving a dog in a hot car alone can be fatal. Be sure to always have a plan, so that your dog is not left alone in the car or any other enclosed location for an extended period.
If you see a dog inside a heated automobile, you should immediately call 911. On a day when the temperature is quite high, you should try to avoid driving with your dog in the car. If you are required to travel, take the necessary precautions to ensure that the windows in your vehicle are protected from direct sunlight by installing shade covers. Before you put your dog in the car, try to get it as cool as possible and turn on the air conditioner if you can.
You should try to avoid traveling during the hottest parts of the day, and you should also think about going at times when there is less traffic so that you won’t be detained for extended amounts of time. Make sure that your dog does not run out of water at any point during the trip.
Be Wise in Your Dog’s Energy
Finding less tiring ways to use up your dog’s energy is a good idea when the weather is warmer. This applies to both mental and physical activities. For instance, if they often prefer to run for several hours at a time, doing so while the temperature is higher could be harmful to them. Alternatively, you could freeze their food or use frozen treats in toys or food puzzle toys to keep them busy. You could also hide their toys or goodies in a small area and let them sniff them out.
To persuade your dog to take a dip in a shaded paddling pool, you might try luring it in with some tasty treats or entertaining toys. Whatever it is that you decide to do, be sure it is something that can be done quietly and out of the heat.
Discover New Locations
Whether you take your dog to a new spot to play, a dog park, or even walk a completely new route, the unique experience of a fresh site can assist give mental stimulation to your dog. This can help prevent your dog from becoming bored and stressed.
Engage in Meeting Other Dogs
Your dog will benefit from maintaining its social life by having opportunities to play with other canine companions so long as it does not exhibit any signs of hostility or nervousness.