Keeping An Ageing Dog Busy And Mentally Fit

  • 01/09/2020
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old_Mastiff.jpgEven though it is killing us to see our once enthusiastic (over enthusiastic) pals now walking slowly, we take it as a part of life. Don’t we easily just accept that our aging dog is going to be less active, sleep often, and play less? Probably we are assuming some things too quickly. Aging dogs that get good amount of exercise, proper nutrition, and stimulation for mental health can delay various signs and ailments associated with old age. A research by Norton Milgram, a Psychologist at the University of Toronto, reveals that when older animals were given novel mental exercises such as exposure to newer environments and problem solving opportunities, they showed positive signs in delaying the declining of their mental capabilities. Such stimulation aids in bringing new changes in the brain’s physiology by enabling existing neurons to make new connections with the cortex.

In this pandemic time, we all have realized the importance of good health. We are making some massive lifestyle changes, including healthy foods, and working on our bodies. Its not fair to leave our furry friends out of this plan. Here are some ideas that can help keep your senior dog mentally fit and young.

Exploration of New Avenues

Dogs have always been curious and it would not be wrong to say that they feed on adventure! Taking them for regular walks can get boring but skipping walks is not a great idea either. What would sound great would be a walk at a new place. Letting them sniff around in a totally different place while having a walk would be stimulating for them, satisfying their unspent mental faculties.

New Activities and Toys

You can introduce new, intriguing, challenging toys for your older dogs. One good idea is to bring in treat-dispensing puzzle toys, which makes them work harder on their skills to extract their favourite treat out of the toy. One such toy can keep them busy for about 30 minutes. Additionally, you can add in their routine new things, for example an extra brushing time would help them be more active while strengthening his bond with you.

New Tricks

Whoever first said that one cannot teach new tricks to an old dog didn’t probably own a dog. Constantly teaching new tricks to your dogs, even as simple as getting a ball, will stimulate his brain. Keeping the mind engaged and active will help in delaying the aging of the brain.

Right Nutrition

There are specially formulated foods for dogs over 7 years. Certain studies have shown that such special foods have been helpful in the improvement of mental skills of dogs over 7 years.

Hydrotherapy

People are increasingly using the hydrotherapy for helping dogs in relieving their pain and recover from injuries. So why not add it to their list of favourite activities! Mostly, such therapies have been more helpful for dogs with hip dysplasia, arthritis, and degenerative joint diseases. Hydrotherapy makes use of buoyancy, viscosity, resistance, and hydrostatic pressure to enable a dog make use of the injured muscle or joints. While for an older dog with no such ailments, you may not need an underwater treadmill or a special whirpool, a swim in the nearby lake or in your own pool can be just right. You can simply visit online vets to understand what is best for your dog and how hydrotherapy can help him.

Things to Consider While Playing With an Older Dog

Every dog and different dog breeds respond to aging differently. While one may have absolutely no problems in hearing or seeing, their joints may be giving them a truly tough time. You must identify the core problem areas with your older dog and assess their health and energy levels before you set out to execute new ‘fun’ plans with them.

  • Your dog may be more prone to bone injuries because of their bones getting fragile.
  • Expect lower energy and reduced enthusiasm, no need to push, but try to customize a play idea basis these new energy levels.
  • There may be a lot of missing on those catches because of weaker muscles hampering the coordination.
  • There may be further problems of brain functions, hearing capabilities and eyesight, making these games all the more difficult.
  • Degenerative ailments and osteoarthritis may spoil the game, making certain movements painful.
  • Thinning cartilage in joints and hip dysplasia can make your dog’s joints painful and more injury prone.
  • Their nutritional needs change massively. Offer them more fiber and less protein while limiting calories. Proper nutrition is essential in keeping their digestive systems fit and running, as well as maintaining their weight.

It is indeed satisfying and empowering to be able to help our aging dogs in enjoying quality life even after the age of 7. As we indulge more with them during this phase of their lives, we embrace the truth, the truth of the cycle of life and death as we can see it approaching. We learn positivity, selfless love, and dignity. And the learning never ends.

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