Caring for your dog’s aging body often means learning to perform doggie massage and giving him a joint care supplement. He should also be getting an all-natural kibble such as freeze dried meats and treats free from grains and fillers. What you feed your dog matters even more in his senior years. Consider adding steps for easier access onto your bed (if he’s allowed), or the couch to avoid injury to his hips from jumping and climbing. Take special care when getting in and out of the car and offer assistance even if he previously had few difficulties before. It can be difficult to watch our beloved best friends age, but you can help your dog age gracefully with dignity and less pain through observation, understanding, and love.
6. Keep mentally fit
Keeping you brain active is just as important, if not more so, than keeping your body fit. Your brain is the most dynamic part of your body. It is constantly changing and forging new neural pathways. Everything you come in contact with, your daily habits, your thoughts, and your experiences determine how your brain functions from day to day. The brain you have today is not the same as it was six months ago. When your brain isn’t actively being stimulated, neural connections aren’t replaced at a high rate. When neurons die, they simply aren’t replaced at a rate sufficient to keep up and your brain becomes less active. Over time, this can lead to significant problems and mental and physical sluggishness. You can keep your brain and your dog’s brain healthy and active through regular stimulation. Read often. Engage in stimulating and thought provoking conversations. Travel. Seek out new experiences and never stop learning.
For your dog, keeping his brain healthy might require a game of hide and seek with his favorite toy. Training should be a lifelong process because you really can teach an old dog new tricks, especially if his brain is healthy and active. Give your dog a puzzle toy that requires him to figure out how to get the treat inside or visit a new pet store or dog park to stimulate his senses. Your dog likes surprises so don’t be afraid to try a new treat, play a new game, or learn some new tricks. Change keeps him from getting bored.
7. Don’t ignore your spiritual health
Spiritual health does not equate to religion, but in today’s modern society (especially in America) we tend to ignore our spiritual selves. If you are religious, devote time regularly to your beliefs. You can also tend to your spirit through listening to music, meditating, spend quiet time in nature, creating something, embracing your artistic side, or by helping others.
While the concept of dogs having souls is an often debated issue, your dog needs quiet time to reflect on life too. Turn off the radio and TV, shut down the computer and take a nap with your favorite pooch. Go for walks in the woods together. Play tug-of-war or other games that embrace your dog’s natural instincts. He works hard to fit into our human world so it’s important to allow him some time to just be a dog.