I'm a vet – here's the top things you SHOULDN'T do with your elderly dog | The Sun
EXPERTS have revealed the top things you should and shouldn't be doing with your elderly dog – including making them a bucket list.
Celebrity vet Dr James Greenwood and dog behaviourist Caroline Wilkinson have revealed their top tips for looking after an elderly dog.
The key, they said, is to carry on teaching your old dog new tricks to keep them happy and healthy in their golden years.
But you might be going wrong if you still expect them to run long distances, or let them struggle on slippery flooring.
A dog’s life cycle runs much quicker than a human’s, so while you may still feel happy going for multi-mile walks or playing rough, they might have moved past this phase.
This comes after research – commissioned by Forthglade natural dog food – into 2,000 dog owners showed 43 per cent thought you couldn't teach an old dog new tricks.
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Nearly a third said they would continue treating an elderly dog exactly the same way they would a younger pup, and 37 per cent said they would feel unsure changing their dog's diet.
But most recognised the importance of keeping an old dog mentally stimulated, to keep their brain active.
Dog behaviourist Caroline Wilkinson said: “It’s absolutely possible to teach an old dog new tricks, to keep it mentally stimulated later in life, and reduce cognitive decline.
“We know that half the time spent on mental activity is just as stimulating for your dog as double the time on physical activity, and so this is a really easy way to keep their life enriched and happy as they get older.”
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However more than half of dog owners said they had stopped all behavioural training by the time their dog would be considered senior – 8-10 years old.
Most people said they cherish the time they spend with their dog, and have their own ways to spend quality time together.
Playing games, taking their dog on its favourite walk and treating them to their favourite foods were the top activities.
And when it comes to exercise, a quarter of dog owners believe elderly dogs should be walked for 30 minutes a day on average, according to the OnePoll data.
CAROLINE WILKINSON’S DOS AND DON’TS FOR CARING FOR AN ELDERLY DOG:
DO: Keep an eye out for any changes to your dog both physically but also mentally, and keep a close eye on anything that differs from the norm.
DON’T: Put your own agenda and lifestyle before the dog, ensuring their walks are tailored to their age and try and minimise drastic changes to their lifestyle or routines.
DO: Keep their brain going by engaging with them in simple training exercises, which can have both a physical and mental element.
DON’T: Don’t dismiss an older dog and presume they don’t want to still be active, there is a temptation to think once an old dog gets a condition, we can’t do anything with them anymore.
DO: Make a ‘bucket list’ for your dog, think about the things they really love doing, and that you’d love doing with them, like going to the beach, and help them tick it off in a way that suits their needs.
DON’T: Forget your dog’s physical abilities may be changing. Older dogs may struggle on hardwood floors for example, so putting runners and rugs down will help them with mobility.
DO: Enjoy the moments, and take lots of photos and videos, as dogs’ lives are so short and the memories will last forever.
Dr James Greenwood added: “As a dog ages, it’s important to keep them moving, but be sure to keep it within their own individual capabilities.
“If stiff joints or mobility problems do start to become an issue, speaking to a vet should always be the first step, as lots can be done to keep older dogs mobile”.
Caroline Wilkinson said: “When keeping an older dog healthy, a good diet shout be top of the list.
“Like us humans, not only does a nutritious diet boost their long-term health physically but the stomach is the second brain, so also affects how the dog is feeling.
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“If we’re feeding a good diet then the dog’s going to be happier, relaxed and content as well as feeling physically well – a healthy diet helps with everything from energy to play, good behaviour, right through to improving sleep.”
The research follows the launch of Forthglade’s new meals for dogs that are tailored to support their varying needs, from puppies through to seniors.
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