When your furry friend prefers to stay on a warm sofa rather than have a jaunt in the garden, then as a pet parent, you should know that they are stepping into the category of senior dogs.
Ageing creeps, everybody; even pets!
The same dog that danced through the rain a few years back might now want a cozy bed and some tenderness. While ageing is a biological process, it can predispose a pet to many physical and mental illnesses.
As per a study, canines between the age of 7-11 years sleep more, slow down and show other signs of getting old. Physical changes are inevitable. However, if you notice absent-mindedness, then it’s an alarming sign that your pet might be dealing with a serious mental condition like dog dementia.
Have you ever found your pet standing in the middle of the garden or circling in the room as if puzzled by his whereabouts? Or even worse, did your pooch ever refrain from you as if he had no idea who you are? This absent-mindedness is called dog dementia or CCD (Canine cognitive dysfunction).
CCD is a mental ailment, similar to Alzheimer in humans, which affects a dog’s brain and impedes their mental growth. It is also touted as a biochemical change that affects the brains of senior dogs. CCD can lead to disorientation, increased sleep, heightened agitation, anxiety, loss of interest, less reaction to smell and sound, etc.
Although there is no test to identify CCD in dogs, the common diagnosis is based on the behavioral traits of a pet.
Some major symptoms of dog dementia are:
If you don’t use it, you will lose it!
So, involve your pet in brain teasers, engage him in different activities, make them learn new things, play games like hide and seek, to keep their mind stimulated. When dog’s brains are forced to focus and work on such activities, they will stay active and their mental awareness will increase. You can try mind training exercises, toys and different form of other exercises suggested by your vet to keep your canine’s mind sharp.
These small, dog-friendly games will increase mental stimulation:
Hide your pet’s favorite treats and let them sniff.
Test his wits.
Let him run errands.
Play interactive toy games to keep their mind active.
A healthy body promotes a healthy mind!
Dog’s diet and nutrition play a huge role in his brain function and overall health. So, give your ageing pet the right food, but make sure not to overfeed or underfeed them.
There are foods like Krill oil that help in improving the cognitive health of a pet. Also, consider only low-calorie dog food. Feed them food that is rich in beta-carotene, omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and has plenty of Vitamin E and C.
Here are some other foods that are linked to optimal brain health of the pet are:
Taking your dog for professional checkups is very important! As per AAHA, it is essential to take your pet for health checkups after every six months. The vet will evaluate your pooch’s health and may detect early developing disease to treat it beforehand.
Bad oral health leads to health issues, so brush your furry friend’s pearly whites to keep him healthy. Pet’s teeth become more sensitive and prone to infections, and these infections can give rise to many heart and kidney diseases. Make brushing a habit with your pet’s toothpaste or any pet-friendly toothpaste.
Aged dogs have special grooming needs, especially the long-haired dogs. So, find an ideal time and tame long hairs and unruly nails of your pooch. Clean the lumps and bumps that might occur underneath your pet’s skin.
Grab all the pet cleaning tools and make your pet comfortable. Use combs and bushes that have plastic tipped teeth and wire brushes to pick up the excess dander. Don’t forget to clean the ears; make sure that your dog does not feel any skin irritation or infection while grooming.
Regular and gentle daily exercises help improve dog’s weight and overall health. It keeps your dog’s ligaments, joints and muscles strong. Also, exercising enhances blood flow, reduces pain and inflammation, and aids in uplifting the mood. You can take your pet for a casual walk or may also try the passive range of motion exercises like forelimb flexion, hind limb flexion, etc. at home.
Dogs love making a new friend and meeting new people. So, take your pet to a dog park or perhaps on a special outing. A car ride or a day trip would be the best way to make them feel special. Some senior dogs get attuned to their masters, treasuring their presence and warmth.
While the tips mentioned above would help you (pet parent) maintain your pet’s mental health, don’t forget to give them love. Spend special time with your pooch, cuddle with them and cherish the moments.
Simply, keep your pet happy, active and engaged and make their life rich and healthy.