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Older dogs: how to keep them happy and fit

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Older dogs: how to keep them happy and fit

Let’s start with an important concept: age is only a number. Each breed of dog ages differently and at a different age.  So, when we talk about canine age, it is good to make some clarifications.

If, for example, an 11 year old German Shepherd is considered a very old dog, it is not the same if we think of a small dog, such as a Dachshund or a Maltese who, often and willingly, live in excellent health conditions until at 14-15 years.

Furthermore, as happens for people, not all subjects age equally, so it is forbidden to “pre-retire” their dog just because it has reached 10-11 years of age.

Our first duty, certainly the most important, is to try to age the dog in the best way.

To do this it is important to take care of many aspects, all equally important, to make it live as long as possible and healthy.

As has happened for our species, the life expectancy of dogs has also extended and, thanks to advances in medicine and nutrition, our friends can live well and healthy even after a certain age.

Let’s find out more.

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1. The treatments

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The first key point is to entrust our friend to a good veterinarian.

Veterinary medicine has made enormous progress in recent years, particularly in prevention.

If, for example, 10-15 years ago there were many dogs that died at a young age from some infectious diseases, such as heartworm disease, today this happens more and more rarely, precisely because much more prevention is done than in the past.

The veterinarian’s task, therefore, is to prevent diseases that could potentially damage our dog’s organism prematurely and to implement specific screenings according to breed, age and lifestyle, to identify the presence of a problem.

Very often it happens to see elderly subjects a little abandoned to themselves for the false belief that they are now old and there is not much to do.

This is very wrong: age is only a number and deciding, for example, not to subject one’s friend to a tooth cleaning that would improve the quality of his life only because “doctor, he is now ten years old!” Is a concept mistaken.

Many dogs experience disease and problems only because they are overlooked in absolute good faith by their owners who think it is not fair to stress their dog to undergo investigation or treatment after a certain age.

So choose a doctor you trust and rely on his advice trying to overcome fears and preconceptions.

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2. Nutrition

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Another very important aspect is nutrition.

It is essential, especially for older people, to use super premium products that are high quality or, alternatively, a balanced home diet prescribed by a nutritionist veterinarian.

There are specific products on the market for older dogs designed to be more digestible and with quality protein sources.

However, it is possible that our friend suffers from some disorders (such as liver, kidney or hormonal problems) and needs an ad hoc diet for these problems: therefore, do-it-yourself ban and we always ask the veterinarian for advice.

It is also very important to pay attention to the state of the oral cavity because elderly people can often have tartar problems or dental infections.

For those who find it difficult to chew dry food, it is possible to moisten and soften the croquettes with water or broth or switch to a wet or home-cooked diet.

In addition, many older dogs suffer from joint problems: preventing these forms or slowing down their progression can be addressed with good nutrition.

For this reason, the chondroprotectors and essential fatty acids of the Omega 3 and 6 series should never be missing in the bowl of a person who has crossed the threshold of old age.

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3. Muscles and brain, different rhythms but always activity

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As for exercise, obviously an elderly dog, however active and in good health, will no longer have the rhythms of when he was a puppy.

A regular and short-term exercise is therefore recommended: many small walks are better than a long one.

We take many small breaks, leaving Fido time to remarry.

If it is cold, we must have the same attention we had when he was a puppy, covering it, since the pace will be slower and it will be more difficult to warm up; if it is hot, we choose to take longer walks early in the morning or late in the evening.

At the same time, we absolutely must keep the mind active and try to involve it in as many activities as possible.

Even if he is no longer able to bring the ball back hundreds of times as he did when he was young, some alternative must be found to avoid getting bored and frustrated.

Many older dogs get sad because they feel useless and excluded from the activities we once did together.

The dog always remains a playful person and, therefore, we can continue to throw the ball at him, without exaggerating and without throwing it too far or too strong, taking a longer pause between one throw and another.

In addition, there are numerous games useful to stimulate the mind of dogs without weighing too much on the body.

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4. We dispel commonplaces

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Fortunately, today the beneficial effects of proper nutrition and its anti-aging role are well known.

Even for our dog that is moving towards the third age it is useful, therefore, to know how to “build” the best diet, to ensure a better quality of existence and a greater life expectancy, so that it can still live for many healthy years by our side.

The amino acids, the “building blocks” that make up proteins, are fundamental for our friend with the tail of a certain age, not only for the muscular component but also for the immune system and under the metabolic profile.

The proteinHowever, they are not all the same: it is important that our “mature” dog takes on the noblest, that is, those with a high biological value, rich in essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own.

So which ones do we choose? Better those of animal origin that is meat or fish, well cooked so that our friend can easily digest and assimilate them.

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The protein percentage present in the ration of an animal between six and eleven years of age, however, must be balanced.

THE lipids, in particular those present in foods of animal origin, are essential for the energy needs of the canine organism: at this stage of life, however, it is better not to abuse them, as their excess can promote weight gain.

If overweight and obesity start in this delicate phase, in fact, it is then more difficult to fight them in the following years.

Particular attention must be paid to the relationship between calcium and phosphorus: these two elements must be balanced with each other to ensure the maintenance of the solidity of the skeleton.

And it doesn’t end there. Guaranteeing our four-legged friend an easily digestible diet, possibly divided into several meals a day (three or four), allows to facilitate digestive processes.

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5. Good to know

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With the reduction of exercise and some pain on the joints, the nails they may not consume properly and give some small or big problems.

We must always check and cut them when they are excessively long because walking could become even more painful in these situations.

Furthermore, after a certain age, it is common for dogs to become partially sighted and partially deaf.

For this reason, you have to pay attention to new and stressful situations because their adaptability tends to decrease and, seeing and feeling less well, sometimes they can show aggressive behavior.

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You must have respect for an elderly person and therefore allow him, if he prefers, to be left aside and not at the mercy of too lively and expansive children or dogs, perhaps puppies, excessively playful.

Still, with advancing age, sometimes some subjects they can become incontinent or struggling to hold onto needs for many hours as when they were younger and fitter.

For this reason, it can be useful to take our friend out more often or make a sleeper available to him, like when he was a puppy.

Above all, it is important to understand that he does not do it on purpose and therefore we must not absolutely scold him because, at this age, it is a physiological problem, certainly not a spite or rudeness.

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