What You Should Know About Elderly Dogs: Food & Mobility
As dogs age, their bodies change. Special considerations must be made for their safety. That being said, here is what you should know about elderly dogs and their food and mobility needs.
What’s the Big Deal with Mobility?
Just like with people, dogs start to become less mobile as they age. It’s completely normal and shouldn’t be a cause for concern unless it’s degrading your dog’s quality of life. Even if your dog is slowing down, it can still live a fulfilling life.
It might not be pleasant to see the dog you raised slowing down, but they still have lots of love to give. They just might need you to help assist them with getting around at times.
Signs Your Dog May Have Decreased Mobility
Dogs are normally thought to be entering old age at around six or seven years old. Even a 10-year-old dog may be youthful and bubbly depending on its breed. It’s more important to watch your dog’s behavior to determine if they’re having issues rather than their actual age. Different breeds can “age” more or less quickly.
Keep an eye out for these symptoms of decreased mobility in dogs:
- Walking more slowly or walking with a limp
- Taking a longer time to stand or sit
- Slipping when they try getting up or while walking
- Shifting their weight between their front and back feet
- Trouble jumping or climbing
These might be symptoms that your dog is in pain. As such, it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about what may be causing these issues. There are many degenerative diseases that can affect your dog, and your vet will be your best resource at diagnosing what may be slowing your dog down.
How to Help a Senior Dog with Mobility Issues?
Even if you don’t have an official diagnosis for why your dog is slowing down, there are still things you can do to help them be more comfortable at home. Some of these things are much more common sense rather than medical treatments.
If you find your dog is slipping or tripping more often, you might consider throwing down a few rugs with an anti-slip bottom. A nice rug that doesn’t slip can give your dog just enough grip to get up or move around more comfortably. You might even find your dog-loving their normal nap spot a little more with a carpet over it. They may be searching for added warmth and comfort.
You may also add assistive furniture if your dog is having a hard time climbing or jumping. If their favorite spot is the couch, make sure they can get up there. A small set of pet stairs or a ramp helps your dog reach their favorite spots while remaining independent. You may also get a stand for their food and water bowls to get them off the floor. An older dog could have difficulty or pain reaching all the way down to the floor to eat and drink, so help them out by raising their dishes. This small measure ensures your dog is getting enough nutrition to carry them through their day.
Why Is Nutrition Important in Old Age?
Eating well is one of the most important things you can do for your dog. A well-balanced diet will keep them younger longer. An obese dog or an underweight dog has more medical risks.
An overweight dog may live with pain as there is more pressure on its joints. This causes inflammation and quickly slows your dog down. Keeping their weight within a healthy range is vitally important as your dog ages. If you notice your dog putting on weight, you need to start cutting their food intake. Whether it be taking food out of their bowl or giving fewer treats, your dog needs to maintain a healthy weight to stay more mobile longer.
Should Older Dogs Get Supplements?
You may also consider giving your dog supplements to maintain their mobility. While you will want to talk to your vet about what supplements they recommend for your aging dog, you can also take it into your own hands. We’re not suggesting you start feeding your dog a bunch of pills. Rather, you can make sure your dog is getting a diet that will help support a healthy lifestyle.
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids give your dog a much-needed boost. It reduces inflammation in joints caused by arthritis. It also helps keep their skin and fur soft and shiny. There are many fish oil supplements for dogs, but you can also choose to feed them a little more fish. Salmon, sardines, and mackerel are all high in omega-3 fatty acids. Flaxseed is a plant-based way to give your dog more of this essential fatty acid.
You should also feed your dog some antioxidants to help keep them young. Foods like pumpkin, carrots, quinoa and blueberries all help give your dog the nutrients they need to prolong their lives.
What to Do If My Dog Is Losing Weight?
If your dog is having a hard time stooping down to eat out of their bowl, they might choose to eat less. In this case, you can simply raise their bowl to make it more comfortable to eat.
You might also take a look at what food you are giving them. If you’re adding things like mackerel and berries to your dog’s food, they’ll probably love it. Giving them the same old dry kibble day in and day out may bore your dog. Don’t want to give them whole foods? Try to moistening their kibble or add wet dog food to the bowl to make it easier to chew. You’ll also want to see your vet for advice on how to get your dog to gain weight safely.
Help Your Dog Age with Dignity
Help your dog age gracefully by watching their diet. You can also help them get around by adjusting your home just a bit. With some small changes, your dog will be much more comfortable.