Exercising your aging dog
Cardiovascular issues can begin to affect older dogs, reducing their cardiac output. Their level of activity needs to match this reduced capability, otherwise it may result in heart difficulties.
Osteoarthritis and joint problems are common in aging dogs and can be made worse if your dog is overweight. You may wish to install a ramp if your dog is struggling to climb certain stairs, or carpet if it is struggling to remain steady on tiled or wooden floors. Swimming is excellent exercise for older dogs that may have joint problems.
Your aging dog's diet
Your dog's ability to smell and taste can be reduced as they get older; make sure to keep toxic foods or substances out of their reach, just in case.
Energy requirements of older dogs are around 10%-20% less than younger dogs, so you can adapt their meal sizes to avoid any unnecessary weight gain. Food which is lower in fat yet still highly palatable is a good choice for older dogs as it encourages them to eat while avoiding over-consumption.
Your aging dog's food should also include specific nutrients to support its health during the aging process, such as:
- Long chain omega 3 fatty acids, which can support healthy heart function
- A selection of active nutrients with demonstrated benefits joint health
- Reduced phosphorus levels to support effective kidney function
The health of your aging dog
Regular health checks are a key way of spotting age-related diseases early on and providing the best care possible for your dog. You can also keep your dog healthy at home through regular teeth-brushing—to avoid the build up of plaque that can lead to gingivitis—bathing and grooming.
Some symptoms which may appear to be simply signs of "getting older" can be indicators of underlying illness, so it's important to consult your vet if you notice your dog's appearance or behavior-changing; they'll be happy to advise you on the best course of action.