Looking after the Older Dog

by Karen Brady // 1st July

Looking after the Older Dog

He’s slowing down, he’s going grey, he’s getting old. It’s never a nice time to see your dog starting to age, but it happens to all of us, so let’s talk about how we can help them get the best out of their golden years.

I have a 10 year old rescue Rottweiler called Mr. Cuddles. For the past year or two he has started to just look a little more “mature”. Grey tufts have started to appear, his gait when out walking has gone from a lively trot to a much steadier walk, and some days he seems quite stiff and slow. He is seeing the vet for help with all of his old age ailments and the medication helps him. He sleeps a lot these days and I am relieved to know he isn’t in any real pain, but I found myself thinking about what I could do for him. He has given me years of affection and enjoyment and now it’s my turn to care for him. It’s important to understand that as a dog ages they should be doing a little less, but how can we keep their minds active when their bodies are slowing down? Or how do we stop them racing around when we know it’s doing them more harm than good?

My favourite games to play with my dog are slow and steady brain games. He loves to play scent work around the house, finding food, or toys I have treated with catnip to make them smell nice! This uses his brain and natural instincts of his nose, so it tires him out without the running around or long walks that hurt his back and legs.

He only ever gets fed out of a food toy these days, he enjoys the steady pushing it around to get his food out and it breaks up the monotony of his day. I use a different toy each day to keep his mind active and give him some variety!

We do a little bit of training, but nothing strenuous or repetitive, no sits and downs over and over for us! Instead we concentrate on just some helpful tricks to make it easier to handle him at the vets-when you’re getting old and sore sometimes you need a little training to make these things better! He has learned to rest his chin on my hand for an eye, nose and mouth exam, the vets love us for it!

With an older dog it is not always necessary to walk them every day, little and often is usually better but scent work and food toys are a great substitute for a walk on days where it’s too hot, too cold, or days where your dog just looks a little sore.

It is important to remember that as a dog gets older they may stop following commands, but it’s not because they are being stubborn or naughty! They may have hearing loss or it may be too sore for them to sit when ask or come when called. Regular vet checks are a must for older dogs, noticing the signs of normal aging versus something more suspicious are easier if your vet sees your dog regularly. They can also advise on managing age related conditions to help keep your dog comfortable and young at heart.

We can also help with training older dogs, and classes can be a fun activity for you to do together -  so do get in touch, it’s never too late to learn new tricks! Mr. Cuddles has just signed up to training classes as well!

Trips to the seaside on cooler days!

Just enjoying chilling out in a field! Taking breaks on walks to lie down or have a roll and play with a daisy makes for a happy rottie!

Letting him sleep more, and in his favourite spot! I’ve added a memory foam bed on the floor too for days when he doesn’t feel like making the effort to climb on the sofa!