I’ve been a proud dog owner for years, but one of the toughest aspects about dog care is seeing my pets reach seniority. Caring for an aging dog is difficult, and has posed unexpected challenges in both the lives of my dogs and mine. But, as with most things in life, through reading and personal experience, I’ve managed to learn a thing or two about making their golden years a time of joy and tranquility.
Anything I can do for my Old Friend?
Absolutely you can! I simply can’t stress enough how similar dogs and humans are to each other. One of the things that I noticed as I got older was that doctors started recommending I take supplements to make up for certain natural body deficiencies.
Dogs are the same way, and the best way we can help them is to provide supplements that will assist with problems that come with old age. From fish oils to contour pillows, you can ensure your old buddy enjoys his golden years gracefully. But, if you want some recommendations here are some of my favorites:
Salmon Fish Oil Omega 3 for Dogs – With Wild Alaskan Salmon Oil
Zesty Paws is famous among dog owners for their top of the line quality products. They’re known experts in pet nutrition and their products have been highly rated throughout numerous websites.
Their Salmon Fish Omega 3 supplement is one of the best chewy treats in the market and provides numerous benefits to older dogs that benefit from the additional nutrition such as:
- Helps slow down the deterioration of joins and skin
- Provides coats with a healthy sheen
- Boost both cardiovascular functions and immunities
Of course, the benefits are numerous, but it doesn’t mean the product is perfect. It’s been fairly documented through personal anecdotes that picky dogs might not like the product. Also, keep in mind this is meant to supplement your diet, not replace it completely.
- Numerous Health Benefits
- Chewy, soft treats for old dogs
- Packed with Omega 3, 6, 9 oils.
- Picky dogs might not like it.
GingerLead Dog Support & Rehabilitation Harnesses
GingerLead is a family-owned company whose original intent was to help out their dog Ginger who suffered from hip dysplasia. Through their efforts, they managed to find a way to create comfortable slings that can assist dogs with weak legs and joints.
These harnesses are made for a variety of dogs of all sizes and are extremely useful for when your dog starts showing signs of degenerative diseases such as arthritis. Because let’s be realistic simply having joint problems never stopped you from enjoying the beach or those activities that require plenty of body movement.
Dogs are no different and GingerLead Dog Supports & Rehabilitation Harnesses are there to help them enjoy life to its fullest even when they’re old.
- Variety of sizes and styles to fit all dogs
- Comfortable and durable
- Highly rated on Amazon
- Family owned company
- A bit on the expensive side
- You need to be strong enough to support the dogs’ weight
NEUTRICKS for Aging Dogs
Teach old dogs new tricks with NEUTRICKS! Aging dogs can potentially suffer from a slowdown of cognitive functions. But, NEUTRICKS help prevents the slowdown and keep your pups sharp and in charge. These pills are a popular dog supplement meant with high reviews in numerous websites and providers. Unfortunately, it can also be hard to find as the product is always in high demand. But, if you can get your paws on some here are the benefits:
- Helps increase brain function
- Stimulates mental agility
- Sharper cognitive focus
The supplement can also help avoid a few of the changes in behaviors you can expect from elderly dogs such as:
- Back and forth pacing
- Increase in soiling around the house
- Irritable moods
- Chewy soft for older dogs teeth
- Keeps your dog’s mind sharp
- Increase in cognitive function can vary per dog
- Demand is high so it can be hard to find
- Prices can vary
Glucosamine for Small Dogs
Arthritis is painful, as anyone who’s ever experienced will tell you, it hurts! Dogs can suffer from this degenerative disorder as well, and they’re not going to be able to heal from it themselves. For those reasons, the bioengineers over at First Friend have you covered. Glucosamine for Small Dogs is a vial of drops that are designed for ease of use and quick absorption. Most glucosamine in the market is found in pill form which can be hard to process in the dog’s body, but Glucosamine for Small Dogs circumvents it by being in liquid form. The vial even comes with instructions.
- Soothes joint problems caused by Arthritis
- Liquid form for easy absorption
- Full refund guarantee
- Dogs might not like the taste
PetFusion Ultimate Pet Bed
When I first bought a memory foam mattress I was ecstatic. The feeling of comfort and stability in my back felt great. I thought to myself, why can’t they come up with one of these for dogs? Then PetFusion had an answer for me. The Ultimate Pet Bed by PetFusion is one of my dog’s favorite beds (aside from my own). These beds provide a lot of comfort for the animals and have a bevy of benefits for aging pups back and posture.
- Water and tear resistant
- Non-skid bottom for stability
- Easy to wash
- Comes in a variety of sizes and colors
- 24-month warranty
- Might not match your furniture décor
Folding Plastic Pet Stairs
There comes a time in all our lives when suddenly the bed becomes a hard to reach spot. Your legs don’t lift as high, your bones ache and somehow your back has given out. In those occasions, we usually use a stepladder or a small step to help out right? Well, the geniuses at Petmaker decided to implement that idea for dogs! Pathmaker’s Folding Plastic Pet Stairs is exactly what it says on the tin, small ladders used by your dogs to reach those places that were once easy to access, but now they aren’t. These ladders hook up to your bed in order to allow the dog to climb and are also collapsible.
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Collapsible for easy storage
- Non-slip steps material to avoid accidents
- Best used on carpeted or non-slip floors
- Not suited for all bed types.
Walking out barefoot is something most people aren’t used to. Burns, scrapes, cuts, frostbite, and a bevy of other consequences can come from walking on different surfaces without proper preparation. But, we often let our dogs walk on any surface without regards to their poor little paws. Thankfully, Natural Dog Company has come up with a product that protects your dog’s sensitive pillow pads with wax! This product will basically act as your dog’s shoes after you rub some in their paws.
- Protects dog’s paws from hot surfaces
- Helps reduce skin contact with allergens
- Prevents cracked skin and peeling after long days of outdoor activities
- Pricey for the quantity of product
- Smells like flowers
- Some dogs like the taste of it and can potentially rub off the product
When can I Consider my Dog a Senior Citizen?
It’s common knowledge that dogs age a lot faster than humans do. The way we typically calculate it is every dog year equals seven human years hence a one-year-old puppy is equal to a young kid. As such, it doesn’t take very long for them to reach seniority (the last quarter of their lives), but keep in mind that different breeds mature differently.
Most people are surprised when I tell them that dogs don’t all age the same way. Typically the larger canines age a lot faster than the smaller breeds. For example, while a Great Dane is definitely hardier than a Chihuahua the latter will outlive the former by a potential of eight years, yet regardless of their breed, certain behaviors are common across the board.
What Behaviors Do Geriatric Dogs Display?
Just like us, dogs also show signs of old age that are common across the board. Once your dog reaches their senior years you can expect them to behave differently than when they were spry young puppies. Whether it’s having barking fits, or separation anxiety keep a lookout for the following changes:
- Separation Anxiety
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks says the proverb, but this is especially true for their habits too. Older dogs feel uneasy whenever their owner leaves the home, and at times may manifest this through destructive behaviors previously not displayed. A dog who is suffering through separation anxiety will also show extreme excitement over their owner’s return.
- Aggression due to Pain
Older dogs suffer from joint pain and or other types of degenerative diseases than can affect their quality of life. When a dog is suffering from pain or experiencing some type of external stressor their default response might be to become aggressive. It’s important to recognize what triggers the animal in order to alleviate his issues and restore him back to his normal behavior.
- Changes in Barking
Some senior dogs can actually become more verbal in their behaviors as they grow older. The reason for this additional communication may vary, but it’s important to identify what is causing it. Some dogs whine for attention, others are feeling separation anxiety, and or some cognitive dysfunction, but by taking the time to identify the cause you can mitigate the behavior early on.
- Extra Sensitivity to External Stimuli
Just like old people, elder dogs will become less capable of handling certain types of stress. Because of their added sensitivity and their limited mobility, the dogs might be unable to leave the premise of the disturbance and might become terrified and or aggressive. It’s also important to keep in mind that dogs can hear different frequencies than humans can and you might not even hear what’s causing them distress.
The aforementioned behaviors are some of the common signs displayed by old dogs. But, dogs aren’t limited to these behaviors alone. There are a lot of new things you can expect when caring for an aging pet and some of it might surprise you.
What to Expect when you’re an Aging Dog!
If you have an aging dog or know of one, then here are some things you should anticipate:
- Old dogs might not recognize family members, either from glaucoma or decreased mental status.
- They experience confusion or disorientation to stimuli.
- A decrease in energy levels is normal.
- Sleeping cycles might be different.
- Expect accidents to happen around the house.
Knowing early on about these behaviors can help alleviate some of the stresses of coming home to an unexpected surprise. At the end of the day, dogs and humans aren’t so different, but while your dog might be getting older that doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy a treat or two. NOTE: Some diseases diguise themselves as “old age” such as Cushings Disease so have your pet checked at the vet regularly!
Can I still give my Senior Dog Treats?
Yes, but please keep in that as with any dog regardless of age, treats should not make up more than ten percent of their daily caloric intake. What does this mean? In general, you should always read the nutritional guides in the back of the baggies in order to know how much you’re actually giving them. If you follow the measurements properly you will ensure your senior pup is healthy and happy well into his golden years.
However, what if instead of buying you’re interested in making homemade treats? Well, I have a few secret ingredients that offer surprising benefits to your lovely pets.
Chicken/Beef Flavored Baby Food
Baby food is one of the most easily digestible foods out in the market. Older dog’s digestive system can benefit from how easy it is to eat and how full of nutrients it is. But, make sure that it doesn’t contain anything that could hurt your dog’s stomach like:
- Onion (powdered or otherwise)
- Garlic (Same as above)
Avoiding the foods that contain those elements will prevent your old friend from any potential indigestion.
Milk is loaded with calcium, old dogs benefit from these just as well as anyone else. The powdered version is usually enriched with protein and healthy carbohydrates that will fill your old pup with energy. However, if your dog is lactose intolerant it might be best to avoid the milk altogether.
Dogs gain several benefits from consuming wheat germ. Not only is wheat germ packed with omega-3 and -6 acids that produce a healthy looking coat and skin, it also promotes enhanced physical and mental performance. In fact, veterinarians will often recommend wheat germ to help against allergies, reduce inflammation and even shedding on dogs.
Treats made from these ingredients are usually top quality for elder dogs. One recipe I recommend for your aging friends is:
Doggie Cookies Recipe – Cookies for Older Dogs with teeth problems
3 (2 1/2 oz. each) jars of baby food; either beef or chicken
1/4 cup Dry milk powder
1/4 cup Wheat germ or cream of wheat
Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
Roll into small balls and place on well-greased cookie sheet.
Flatten slightly with a fork.
Bake in preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes until brown.
Cool on wire rack.
Refrigerate to keep fresh or freeze.
We Should Devote Special Care To Them As They Age
Old dogs and new dogs have a place in our families and hearts. Just because they’re getting on with their years does not make them any less important in our hearts than a younger puppy. But, while their eyes, and ears might not work the same, that doesn’t mean we can stop caring for them just as we always did. In fact, I rather argue that they deserve even more care thanks to all the years of love and affection they gave us.
We can make their lives easier and we should, our pets are family and companions. It’s time we gave back to them for what they gave to us in their prime.