Top Healthy Living Habits for Senior Dogs

29 Jul 2021 | Written by Freshpet

As our dogs age, it’s more important than ever to ensure that we’re helping them live their happiest, healthiest lives. In this blog, our Freshpet vet, Dr. Aziza, shares her top healthy living habits and answers some of your most-asked questions about senior dogs.

What types of health problems can I expect my aging dog to experience?

As a dog gets older there are multiple diseases that may develop. Some of the most common include:

At what point does my dog start to be considered “old”?

When it comes to determining at what age your dog is considered “old” there’s not a one-size-fits-all answer. This is because it’s tied closely to their breed, which giant dog breeds typically have a shorter life span compared to medium- and small-sized breeds.

Since there’s such a discrepancy between breeds, veterinarians typically recommend annual blood work panels and physical exams every six months when a dog reaches seven years old. This allows them to screen for diseases that tend to show up later in a pet’s life, like the ones we listed above. The earlier they’re identified, the sooner we can start treating them, which leads to a far better prognosis or long-term outcome.

How much daily exercise should my senior dog be able to handle?

There are two key factors that determine how much exercise a senior dog can handle:

Try to encourage your dog to exercise as much as they can without putting too much stress on their bodies. If you find that your dog is struggling with the different exercise options you try, speak to your veterinarian about alternative forms of exercise. We’re fortunate to live in a time where there are several fun and exciting exercise options for older pets, such as underwater treadmills, that allow them to safely stay active.

Do you suggest a certain eating schedule for senior dogs?

I recommend feeding senior dogs two well-balanced and nutrient-dense meals a day to support their aging bodies. Healthy dog food recipes like Freshpet are great for senior dogs as they are made of high-quality, fresh, fruits, veggies, and proteins that are gently steam-cooked to lock in vital nutrients. This makes the meals much more similar to how a home-cooked diet would be prepared, compared to kibble.

Should I change my aging dog’s diet or introduce any types of supplements?

Senior dogs can have different nutritional needs than younger dogs, which is why I often recommend joint supplements, especially if they are showing signs of osteoarthritis. If there are concerns about weight management, dry skin, or even a sensitive stomach, having a well-balanced diet like Freshpet is a great choice. As I mentioned before, each recipe is made of fresh, whole ingredients that make it the best dog food for senior pets managing those common concerns.

How much sleep should my senior dog be getting per day?

Dogs love catnaps and, in general, senior dogs sleep more than younger dogs. After a particularly active day, you may notice that they’re sleeping a bit more than normal and this is okay. However, if you notice your dog is sleeping all day long, this can be a warning sign of an underlying health concern. If you’re worried that your senior dog is sleeping too much, make a wellness appointment with your vet to rule out any potential health issues.

How can I maintain my senior dog’s mental health?

In addition to your pet’s physical health, it’s important that you focus on keeping up with their mental health as they age. A great way to maintain your senior dog’s mental health is to have consistent enrichment and activities that keep their mind active. Encourage your dog to play independently with toys, interact with family and friends throughout the day, and exercise through play.

It’s also important to have a great diet that will support their cognitive health as well as their physical health. Freshpet salmon recipes are great sources of Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, which help promote brain health.

We hope that you’re able to incorporate some of Dr. Aziza’s tips into your dog’s regular routine so that they can enjoy their golden years to the fullest.

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