Dr Tracy Douglas
Your guide to this article today is by veterinarian Dr Tracy Douglas
Published 14:11 pm

Besides being one of the two most popular domestic animals in the world, there is a reason why dogs, a subspecies of the grey wolf, have been called man’s best friend for the past 15000 years. These reasons range from its ability to be a reliable companion, guardian, and playmate at the same time. Aside from the primary functions of dogs, scientists in recent times, have proven that they also help reduce depression, improve cardiovascular health, decrease the possibility of schizophrenia and other mental diseases. As a result of all these factors, most people tend to be less intimate with their senior dogs but there are ways you can still have fun with them before they breathe their last. That being said, we present to you ten fun activities to do with your aging senior dog.

Old dog

Frequent Visits to the Veterinary Clinic

It is expected that older animals are given more intensive care than the younger ones since they are no longer as strong as they used to. This rule applies to dogs and the fact that they are very close to man makes it even more interesting. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), a dog is said to be a senior dog once it is above 6-7 years of age. Although with age comes experience, it also comes with a parcel filled with health problems like diabetes, joint issues, heart diseases, vision impairment, tiredness and anxiety amongst several others.

This might not sound like a fun activity to do with your senior dog but it may surprise you to know that this is the most important of all activities. In order to have several fun activities with your dog or any activity at all, it must be in good health. Of a fact, older dogs are bound to witness deterioration in health such as poor hearing, weakness, vision impairment, and heart diseases, etc.

Hence, it is imperative that you fix a visit to the vet every 6 months so a complete examination can be carried out on your senior dog to ensure wellness and early detection of any disease. This will ensure that treatment is administered on time to arrest any health challenge.

Go on Special Outings With Your Senior Dog

Dogs are known to possess traits similar to that of human beings, some of those traits involve their ability to experience and discern certain complex emotions such as love, stress, jealousy, anticipation, anxiety, and delight to name but a few. No doubt, dogs, like human beings, and with these emotions, they will certainly appreciate being in a new environment to ease off any stress. As such, going on special trips with your senior dog is always a welcoming idea.

With regards to the places to go with your older pet, you can go for a ride, or a long walk around the neighborhood; or areas that your pup isn’t familiar with. You can also go to a park with your senior dog as it is known to make them feel happy and important.

Play Dog-Friendly Games With It

Generally, dogs love games and that fact doesn’t change with age. However, age is a determinant in the type of game one is expected to play with their senior dog. That does not mean that a senior dog is exempted from playing the type of games younger dogs love such as fetch or soccer. What it does mean is that there should be a limit to it. It is, therefore, preferable that you play mental stimulation games with your senior dogs such as find, snuggle mat, and the cupcake tray treat game.

Hydrotherapy

Hydrotherapy is best defined as the use of water at varying temperatures in the treatment of several conditions. This is a very important activity to do with a senior dog as it helps strengthen its bones; it also helps in the balancing of its movements. What’s more, canine hydrotherapy is best conducted in a warm pool at home or at a gym center and is best carried out on a senior dog that knows how to swim.

A study shows that hydrotherapy is a useful tool that helps in the relaxation of senior dogs that are incapable of walking a long distance and since a 5-minute swim is somewhat equivalent to a 5-mile walk; no doubt, for senior dogs, hydrotherapy is the best way to go. It is, however, germane to know that on no condition should a senior dog be all by itself in a pool as it might lead to panicking which might in turn cause drowning or trauma.

Veterinarian and dog

Play Dress-Up With Your Dog Regularly

A dog in a costume is always a sight to behold and the good part is they actually do like playing dress-up. This activity involves dressing your senior dog in costumes that not only makes it look bold and dapper but also helps protect it from harsh weather conditions.

Related Post: Dog Costume

Cuddling

Cuddling, since time immemorial, has always been a sign of love and affection; an act which dogs are accustomed to from the time of their birth when they need body heat to keep warm. As they grow older, their need for cuddling increases as it makes them feel loved and also helps them release chemicals that make them feel good internally.

Attend a Senior Dog-Friendly Program Together

Programs like this are often carried out in an open environment with lots of space lying around for both dogs and dog owners. At such an event, it is best to engage in activities that help promote bonding between you and your senior dog, making the dog feel young at heart. This ranks high on the bucket list for senior dogs, as it also provides senior dogs with a chance to mingle with other dogs around its age bracket thus, lifting its spirits.

Obedience Trials

Humans are natural show-offs and what better way of showing off one’s senior dog’s level of obedience that engaging it in an old fashion obedience trial. In view of that, an obedience trial simply involves judges, dogs and dog owners. The trial is simple as dog owners get their dogs to perform specified routines in an obedience ring in the presence of other dogs, judges, and a vast audience.

The good thing about this activity is that a senior dog is most likely to come out a victor in such a competition than younger dogs since it must have mastered the art of obedience in the days of its youth. Also, dogs are naturally competitive, hence, a victory for your senior dog is most likely to boost their confidence. A reward after such activity is not a bad idea also.

Trick Training

The popular saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks has not only been denounced for the fallacy it is but has gone on to give birth to the argument that most dog owners are reluctant in spending time with their senior dogs or assisting them in acquiring new skills. Notwithstanding, senior dogs are more than capable of learning new tricks, all that is required is the use of intensive positive training methods which helps improve their mental abilities and there are several online platforms that offer trick patterns one can choose from. A good training skill and pattern is also expected to strengthen the bond that exists between you and your senior dog.

Provide Senior Dogs With a Strict Healthy Diet and Regular Exercise

Dogs like food and that feature is only bound to get stronger with age. As a result of that, it is only normal that senior dogs consume more food than they did when they were much younger unless they have some health challenges that may make them act otherwise. Hence, feeding your senior dog is always an important activity that requires special care and precision. And since senior dogs are less active, it is most likely that they are going to add tons of weight due to the food they consume.

Accordingly, it is expected that you as a dog owner, will ensure that you place your senior dog on a balanced diet by giving it foods rich in Omega 3 such as egg yolks and fish. Also, foods rich in vitamins like broccoli, spinach, broth, and probiotics are highly accepted.

Related Post: Probiotics for Dogs

Additionally, regular exercise with your aging dog is also a very fun activity as it makes the dog maintain fitness, shed excess weight and promote the level of intimacy between a senior dog and its owner which so happens to be a very important factor towards having a happy dog.

Conclusion

The relationship that exists between dogs and dog owners can best be described as an inter-personal relationship at its best. This relationship can thus be likened to the proverbial tit for tat which means that for a dog owner to enjoy the numerous benefits a dog is capable of bringing to his/her life, they must go the extra mile to ensure that their dog is happy at all times. A method that has proven to be relatively successful for several decades when it comes to setting realistic targets on certain important things is the creation of a bucket list. Hence why creating a bucket list for senior dogs is in no way a bad idea when it comes to keeping your dog happy. That being said, we hope the above activities come especially useful and perfect for your senior dog.

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Dr Tracy Douglas
General Practice Veterinarian, currently working at the Glenwood Veterinary Clinic, Glenwood Springs, Colorado. Dr. Douglas began her veterinary career as a Veterinary Nurse in Highton Veterinary Clinic, Highton Victoria, and then as an Emergency Veterinarian in Uintah Pet Emergency, Colorado Springs, Colorado. Tracy is particularly interested in surgery, neurology and internal medicine, which gives her a well-rounded knowledge on animal health and well-being. She received her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine from the University of Melbourne, while her undergraduate bachelor of science is from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York.

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