A healthy dog is a happy dog. You can see by the shine of their coat or their always wagging tails that a dog is happy and healthy. But your dog might need help to stay healthy and it is up to you as his owner and caregiver to look after their health needs. With owning a pet the responsibility falls on you to maintain their coats, to pick-up after, feed and bath as just a beginning of your commitment to your dog.
Our healthy steps will hopefully help you with having a healthy dog for many years.
You need a veterinarian who looks after your dogs health needs, from a puppy to a geriatric dog, your vet is your life-line to a healthy dog. And you want one that you are both comfortable with. A vet is going to be the one responsible for looking after your dog’s vaccinations, recommendations of diet and over-all health of your best friend for a lot of years to come. And they are especially important in the health and well-being of your mature or adult dog. Just like us, when we age we require different health care than when we were children or adolescents.
As a general rule of thumb, a dog who is 7 years or older should be considered middle to senior aged. The old classic “one human year equals seven dog years” is an easy way to calculate and relate to your dog’s age, but isn’t the most accurate. Large breed dogs (i.e. Great Danes) are considered a senior at 6 or 7 years of age, whereas small breeds (i.e. toy poodle), aren’t considered a senior until their teen years. Your vet can help you with the math for your particular breed of dog if you need help to determine how old they are.
Your aging mature dog’s diet is going to change. You are still going to be feeding them a quality nutritional food twice a day, but it might change with their aging needs. The main objectives in the feeding an older dog should be to maintain health and optimum body weight, slow or prevent the development of chronic disease, and minimize or improve clinical signs of diseases that may already be present. And your vet can help you to address any health issue of course and to also recommend any food changes.
Remember if you are changing your dog’s food to do it gradually. You aren’t going to just change-out their food, this can cause stomach upset for your dog. We recommend switching to a new food gradually over the course of 7-10 days. For example, make a mixture that contains 25% of the new food and 75% of the old food and feed that for three days. Then make it 50-50 for three more days, then 75% new food and 25% old food for three more days. If your dog seems comfortable with this progression, you can start feeding 100% new food.
Even a mature dog needs exercise. The days of running around like a puppy might have changed but your adult still loves to get out and play. You are still going to continue those walks, maybe a bit slower but still get out there for you both. As your dog ages they might slow down or not want to walk quite as far as they might of, but exercise is important for their joint health along with their weight. Dogs that are overweight suffer from health problems. Unlike us, an overweight dog will really struggle to lose excess weight gain. They might love their treats but you are doing your dog an injustice if you let them get obese.
Another step to a healthy adult dog is keeping their teeth clean. If your are unable to do yourself, pay to have it done. Your dog’s mouth health is very important and as they age and their activity level of chewing changes their teeth will require more cleaning. Just like us, your teeth are an important factor in your over-all health outlook. Your vet may recommend sedating your pet to deep-clean their teeth. Your regular groomer can also help with maintaining your dog’s tooth care. For a fee they can get in there and give your dog’s teeth a decent cleaning, not as good as a vet visit but for a continued maintenance it is a good option.
Of course there is lots more you can do for your furry friend as he ages but we thought we would hit on those top health steps to help your dog as he ages. A preventative approach is a good approach when it comes to your dog’s over-all health. Help those who can’t help themselves, when you brought home that cute little puppy you signed-on to look after him even in his aging years. And they appreciate the love and attention you give them everyday!