Helping your dog stay sharp.

Helping Your Senior Dog Stay Sharp

Posted May 25, 2018 in Dog Tips

As your dog gets older, they can experience more issues, health wise and mentally. Just as humans can decline mentally as they get older, so can our four-legged friends. Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is the name for when dogs and cats start to deteriorate over time and in their elderly years. It can include anything from changes in sleep (restlessness or lots of sleeps), behavioral issues, such as anxiety or irritation. It also physical things, like loss of appetite or losing interest in seeing, smelling, sounds, etc. These changes are all similar to dementia and can be common in dogs 11 and older, but even more common in dogs over 15. You want your older dog to be able to enjoy and live a great life, so what can you do to help? Here are some tips to helping your senior dog stay mentally sharp!

Activity is Key- and It’s All Relative

We know that movement defuses stress while also stimulating a healthy hormone profile. Activity can be as simple as walking around the house while doing basic obedience skills like sits and downs or a lap around neighborhood. The key is meeting the dog where they are at with their mobility, joint health, and physical conditioning level. Start small and increase slowly. Treadmills are easy to use and can be fine for basic walking pace, as well as trotting for those with less limitations. Check out this video of how to teach a dog to walk on a treadmill.

Tricks and Puzzles

As humans, we’re told that to stay sharp. we should keep working our mind, whether that be through reading, crossword puzzles, etc. Dogs should do the same! To stay sharp and engaged, we should try our best to make sure our dog is interacting with toys that are challenging their brain. When our older dog’s brain is focused on a task or challenging puzzle, it will slow down this deterioration. You can try anything from puzzle toys like the Kong to just doing more training. Spend time every day doing tricks or new exercises!

Get the Right Food

Another important aspect of keeping your senior dog healthy and happy is to give them food made specifically for them. Older dogs need food that has vitamin C and E, selenium, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids. All these different vitamins or supplements have been shown to help the brain and keep your dog healthy. Talk to your vet and do research to find out which food is right for your pup. To get some of these vitamins, you can also consider giving your dog supplements. You obviously need to touch base with your vet first to find out which are the best for your pup and how much to give.

Feed the Right Amount

When dogs become overweight, they are at risk for health issues beyond just obesity. With older dogs, it is key to keep them at a healthy weight since we don’t want to increase the chances of other diseases that come from dogs being overweight. Be sure you are not over feeding or under feeding your dog. If you notice a change in appetite from your older pup, be sure to let your vet know.

If Needed, Consider Learning About Medication

There has been only one drug for dogs that has been approved to treat their cognitive state and somewhat treat dementia that a dog may be facing. Ask your vet if they think Anipryl could be helpful to your pet. Sometimes it can improve their state and help them live a happier life.

Obviously you can’t stop your dog from aging. But hopefully these tips will help extend your dog’s life and make it more enjoyable!

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