For years, your dog has been a big bundle of endless energy, always ready for a game of fetch and rushing to the door with his tail wagging when you got home. But, these days, your four-legged friend seems a little tired. He spends more time lying down than running around, and, when he does get up, his movements are stiffer than usual. What’s going on?
Most likely, your pup is dealing with an issue that plagues all of us at some point: he’s getting older. But you can support your aging dog in terms of his daily life and energy levels, and there are quite a few ways you can give him a boost. Here are a few tips that can help make your dog healthier and more energetic!
Change up His Diet
Your dog’s dietary needs change as he ages (there’s a reason puppies have their own special food), and an older dog is no exception. Senior dogs need food that is much lower in fat and higher in protein than the meals they ate as younger adult dogs. Research also suggests that older dogs need to eat foods rich in the nutrient L-carnitine (such as red meats), since this vitamin can help them convert fat into energy.
Pay attention to the ingredients in your dog’s food, and consider switching to a brand that’s specially formulated for aging dogs. You can even try cooking meals yourself that have been formulated by a veterinarian to be balanced and contain the nutrition your older dog needs. Just be sure to consult with your dog’s veterinarian before making changes to his diet.
Freshen That Water Bowl
Dehydration is a common problem for dogs in their twilight years. Sometimes, the problem is caused by health problems (such as kidney disease, which might increase the frequency of urination), while another major contributing factor can be the lack of fresh, available water. This is why it’s so important to make sure your dog has plenty of clean water to drink throughout the day.
Make sure your dog gets a fresh bowl of water every morning, and even refresh the bowl when you get home from work. If you’re regularly out of the house for long hours, consider investing in an auto-refill dish so your dog always has water available. If you make sure fresh water is always at the ready, you just might find that your dog has more energy.
Exercise is a very important part of a dog’s routine, and that does not change as he ages. A nice walk or a run in the park helps to keep your dog healthy and gives him a chance to have some fun! However, the types of exercise your dog can do in old age may be different from the Frisbee games of his youth.
Low-impact exercises like swimming or dog yoga can get your dog’s endorphins flowing without being too hard on the joints. Similarly, a leisurely walk or gentle game of tug-of-war can be fun ways to play with your dog. Just take it easy while you play and watch your dog for signs of exhaustion. The old guy may not be able to keep up like he used to, but he still wants to be part of the game.
Add Some Nutritional Supplements
Many pet owners give their dogs additional vitamins and supplements to boost their energy in their old age. This can be a helpful way to give them extra nutrients and make sure they have a complete and healthy diet. But what kind of vitamin does your aging dog need? That will depend entirely on your dog’s health and his specific needs.
Ask your vet if it would be beneficial to add a multivitamin supplement into his meal. If your dog shows symptoms of arthritis, he might benefit from a supplement that provides him with fish oil, glucosamine, or chondroitin. If your dog is suffering from chronic pain in his old age, CBD oil may also ease his pain and help him feel spry again. However, introducing new supplements into your dog’s diet is not a one-size-fits-all solution, so make sure you talk to your vet first.
Have Fun with Your Dog
The tips we’ve talked about today can help improve your dog’s health and wellness, giving him an extra boost of energy in his old age. However, this last tip might be the most important: play with your dog! Dogs are social animals, and they crave attention and affection from their family members. Even if your dog is getting older and slowing down, his mood will likely brighten if you give him some extra attention every day.
Aaron Smith is a writer and copy strategist for several companies and nonprofits. He often covers topics important to pet owners, and is a dedicated dog dad to his three pups: Buddy, Roxy, and Kaya.