Superior care for suave seniors!

44

Ragini Bhandari
It is heartbreaking to watch your once agile pup grow old and not jump around. With small steps taken at the right time you can ease out the pain and discomfort of your senior pet and give them a happy and comfortable life! –by Ragini Bhandari
Senior dogs can and should still live fulfilling lives, even though they may have difficulty moving around. When given appropriate treatment and care, a dog’s life can be enriched rather than cut short. Follow these tips for senior dog care to improve their quality of life.

Love & food make all the difference
Don’t stress on the importance of an age-appropriate diet. It is a crucial to keep your pet’s diet healthy and balanced, especially when they become senior citizens. Unhealthy food is like slow poison; can lead to inflammation and weight gain both of which can reduce your pet’s quality of life.Added weight puts pressure on joints and bones, which can cause a rapid deterioration of mobility. Maintaining a healthy body weight is equally important for your pet to move around and not be lethargic.

Vouch for vet visits
Once your pet comes in the senor category, it is good to increase vet visit from once a year to at least twice a year. Doing so will help establish baselines for your pet’s health and ensure that ‘clinically silent health abnormalities’ are caught sooner rather than later. Vets can also offer prescriptions for supplements and referrals to massage, acupuncture. or physical therapy treatments if your pet needs it.

Don’t forget dental care
Aging dogs are at an increased risk of problems like gum disease and cracked teeth, which are painful, serious conditions that require vet’s attention.

Make their mental health a priority
Mental exercise is just as crucial as physical exercise for your pet’s overall well-being. Help keep their brain active with stimulating activities like food dispensing toys, interactive or puzzle toys, hide-and-seek, decompression walks, and scavenger hunts around the house. These workouts for the mind will keep your pet mentally enriched.

Take it slow!
Explore new activities to keep them physically active, but don’t do overdo it.On one hand, you don’t want to push your pet too hard and risk injury, and on the other, regular activity is vital for their wellness throughout their lifetime. So striking a balance is the key!

Never too old for new tricks
Try and teach him new tricks and hand signals. Older dogs aren’t as easily distracted as pups and can focus for longer periods of time. This ability to concentrate helps them learn new routines more easily. Hand signals come handy when they lose some degree of their hearing as they age and are a great way to improve communication with your pet.

Time to get cosy & comfy
The importance of making small environmental changes and adjustments in their day-to-day life activities is often overlooked as a means of managing pain, providing comfort, and affording self-sufficiency to senior dogs. Inflammation, soreness, and aches and pains can all be aggravated by hard surfaces. Special foam beds and orthopaedic dog cushions provide senior dogs with a place to lounge in a pain-free manner.

Monitor their mobility
Monitor your pet’s activity levels and watch for signs of aging and discomfort. Common causes of decreased mobility are osteoarthritis, degenerative myelopathy, intervertebral disc disease, and muscle atrophy. Swimming can be very beneficial if that option is available to you; it helps older dogs maintain good muscle mass and tone while keeping weight off the hip joints and relieving dog joint pain.

When it comes to mobility in senior dogs, a little tender love and care goes a long way.
Accommodate their mobility issues and introduce supplements to manage pain. If your senior dog is slipping or sliding on tiles, wooden flooring etc. you can make a few changes –

• Add rugs– There are a variety of different options for different spatial needs, from big rugs to carpet tiles and rug runners.

• Paw grip socks– Little socks or booties with rubber soles create paw traction and can reduce slippage. They can be taken on and off easily.

• Inexpensive bath mats or yoga mats– Are a great way to provide some traction for dogs, use while training/grooming or playing.

Many elderly dogs have trouble climbing and jumping. As they age, dogs may have more difficulty getting into cars, reaching couches and beds, or getting up the stairs.

Making big leaps without the necessary strength and balance makes your pet more prone to injuries that further exasperate mobility. That’s why ramps, pet steps, or stair treads are great options for senior dogs. They offer a more gradual, safer way for dogs to reach elevated surfaces. With existence of products like these, senior dogs also don’t have to be picked up, which allows them to remain independent and active.

To avoid back or neck issues, you might want to consider getting a tray or stand to slightly elevate their food and water bowls.

For grooming sessions – less is more
Keep grooming sessions fairly short. Choose softer, gentler brushes for older dogs, check your pet’s eyes, ears, and mouth each time you groom and let him move around a bit during the grooming session. Don’t forget to examine the genital areas too.

Not only will this allow you to keep your pet looking and feeling their best, it will also provide you with an opportunity to check for ticks/fleas, skin infections, new lumps, thinning hair, bumps, or areas of irritation, if any. Be sure to trim their hair and nails to help them better navigate your home. It is better to work on your pet for 10 minutes at a time, a few days a week than to expect him to tolerate long grooming sessions under undue stress.

There’s nothing like the love of a senior dog.You might need a little extra patience, but it will all be worth it. Cherish the time you have together and give your pet lots of love!

(Ragini Bhandari is founder of Just Pawsible, a Surat-based pet corner for canine training and pet bakery)