Around the age of seven or eight, depending on size and breed, your dog will appreciate some special treatment. Of all the things you can do, nothing ranks higher than keeping him trim and in shape by attending to:
Older dogs with decreasing muscle mass burn fewer calories, causing weight gain, yet they need better nourishment than ever as they age. Research has shown, as well, that, in dogs with arthritis, mobility improves with weight control.
- Choose a high-quality, highly digestible food.
- Adjust quantities as needed to maintain ideal weight.
- Divide daily food allowance into two or more meals.
- Attend to dental hygiene with daily brushing and professional cleaning by your veterinarian.
Keep your older dog active to control weight, maintain muscle mass, improve circulation and mobility, and provide mental stimulation.
- Modify activities to accommodate decreasing abilities and less resilient joints. A few examples: Avoid big jumps, throw fetch toys a shorter distance, do several shorter exercise sessions or walks rather than a long one.
- Modify or skip activity in extreme weather, such as cold, rain, humidity, or heat.
Find therapies for arthritis pain as needed. These may include glucosamine and chondroitin, acupuncture, massage, or medication recommended by your veterinarian.
Comfort and Safety
To ensure comfort and safety in and outside the house:
- Provide appropriate beds to accommodate aging or arthritic joints. Place them in temperature-controlled, draft-free locations.
- Cover slippery surfaces with non-skid mats.
- Build or buy steps and ramps (with non-skid treads) to help mobility-challenged dogs deal with stairs and getting into vehicles.
- Place water bowls at several convenient locations so that a mobility-challenged dog has ready access to a drink when needed.
- Provide protection from the elements, even if your dog did not need it when younger: shade and air conditioning in summer, a coat in winter or during rainstorms.
- Offer more bathroom breaks.