5 Ways to Make a Senior Dog Feel Young Again

Dogs age faster than humans, which means dogs reach senior status much earlier. However, when a dog officially becomes a ‘senior dog’ depends on the breed and size. Smaller dogs tend to live longer than larger dog breeds. Small dogs generally live up to 15 to 20 years old. Meanwhile, a larger breed has a shorter lifespan of 8 to 15 years.

You’ll need to know your dog’s life expectancy to know when they’ll reach their twilight years. Don’t worry if you’ve lost count of how old your furry friend is; you can still spot some signs that tell that your dog is getting older.

Signs of Aging

Most dogs exhibit similar signs of old age as humans do. These include:

  • Whitening fur around the mouth (for dogs of different coat colors)
  • Joint pain
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Lethargy
  • Senility

Some signs manifest sooner than later for other dog breeds, but this shouldn’t cause immediate concern. Your old dog may still have enough energy to participate and enjoy its daily routines with you.

As their fur parent, your responsibility is to ensure their quality of life and happiness. You can encourage your senior dog to feel like a puppy again by applying these tips:

Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Wheels Dog Wheelchair
Walkin’ Lift Rear Harness
Walkin’ Lift Rear Harness
drag bag for paralyzed dog
Walkin’ Drag Bag

1. Take Them Outside

Senior dogs get tired quickly and spend most of their time lounging around inside. Keeping your dog active is key to its overall health and wellbeing. For as long as they can still move around, try to encourage your dog to take a walk every day. It’ll help them exercise and reduce the weight they can gain from old age.

When you have the time, take your pet out somewhere totally new. A quick retreat at the beach or a hiking trail will pique the curiosity your dog once had as a puppy. Try booking a schedule during off-seasons, so there are fewer people and dogs around that may stress out your senior dog. 

Check this informative post for the best dates you can take your dog on a trip.

2. Adjust and Maintain Your Dog’s Diet

Much like humans, dogs’ weight can fluctuate drastically the older they get. As your dog gets older, their metabolism slows down and they no longer need the high calorie diet they required when they were young. So if you used to feed your dog a lot of food when they were younger, it’s advisable to limit portions now.

Consult your dog’s veterinarian to get advice on your pet’s recommended nutrition and calorie intake for their age. Older dogs need a diet rich in fiber and low in sodium and calories to keep their health in check. Also, stick with more wet food. The extra moisture in their meals will benefit them, so pour some bone broth or water into their dry food. Or better yet, feed them homemade or high-quality dog food.

You’ll also have to weigh your pup regularly. You can do this at home with a bathroom scale if you have a small dog. Bigger dogs will need to take a trip to the vet to use a veterinary scale.

3. Stimulate Their Mind

Dogs enjoy an exciting challenge. An older dog will still have the energy to play a bit, so engage them in a fun activity while they’re still able. Keeping your dog’s brain active can slow down the mental decline that’s so common in older dogs. In addition, mental stimulation may reduce the risk of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS), which affects your dog’s movements when they age. CCDS is more common than you might think, research suggests that CCDS occurs in 23% of all dogs between 12 to 14 years old and that number jumps to 41% in dogs over the age of 14.

Try out something you’ve never done before when your dog was younger. For example, playing a scent game or a dog puzzle toy will catch your dog’s attention and make them feel like a puppy again.

These new games will get the gears in their head moving, and they’ll learn to love playing with you like before, especially if there are treats involved.

4. Provide a New Purpose

As long as your dog is still alive, they still have something important to do in the world. Your pup can still make a positive difference in someone’s life, no matter how old they are.

A senior dog can start a career as a therapy dog or as a school reading buddy. Connecting with an animal can combat loneliness, relieve stress, and help the elderly connect to the present. Any job that follows a simple routine is perfect for older dogs. Being there for you or others may also help your dog feel needed. Most, if not all, dogs desire a purpose in a human’s life to give meaning to their own.

5. Make Them Comfortable

pup French Bull Dog getting up his front stairs with a dog rear support leash assisted by his pet parent

All dogs deserve a good and safe home to play, eat, and rest comfortably. Lack of basic needs can further stress dogs, making them more susceptible to sickness.

A change in mobility is common in senior dogs. Difficulty standing, walking across the floor without slipping, and struggling to climb the stairs are common problems for an aging dog. One thing you can do to put them more at ease is to do a minor home renovation. Add non-skid rugs, a ramp, or doggy stairs to improve their mobility. Replace their old bed with an orthopedic one to support and cushion their ailing joints. This way, your dog can avoid accidents that could cause them serious injury. A simple rear support leash may be the boost your pet needs to stand up after a long nap or get up the stairs on their own.

Aside from that, you can book your dog an appointment for a day at a doggy spa. A full-body dog massage is most beneficial for older dogs to relax and relieve their pain. So take this time to learn some tricks to give your pup a massage at home. You’ll help your aging furry friend feel more limber and younger with this hands-on activity.

In Conclusion

Your senior dog needs the same amount of love as when they first came to your home. So give your dog as many hugs, cuddles, and belly rubs while they’re still with you. It’s the best and easiest thing you can do to make them feel younger.

It’s challenging to care for an older dog, but the result of seeing them happy and thriving in the final years of their life is all worth it.

2 Comments

  1. took your advice and adjusted my dogs diet to a more “senior-friendly” food. I was told by my vet to also consider a vitamin so I decided to do some research and also found a senior dog friendly vitamin called Balanced Breed. They are also all natural as well so no added icky ingredients. With the combo of your advice to switch food and my vet’s recommendation, I have not seen my senior dog this happy and energetic in forever! Such a great feeling knowing he is happy and healthy. Thanks again :D

  2. took your advice and adjusted my dogs diet to a more “senior-friendly” food. I was told by my vet to also consider a vitamin so I decided to do some research and also found a senior dog friendly vitamin called Balanced Breed. They are also all natural as well so no added icky ingredients. With the combo of your advice to switch food and my vet’s recommendation, I have not seen my senior dog this happy and energetic in forever! Such a great feeling knowing he is happy and healthy. Thanks again :D

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