Lyle Says: Here are Five Ways to Keep Your Dog Young
We all want our furry family members to stay puppies forever, but dog years can add up fast. The secret to keeping your dog young and spry for as long as possible is a well balanced health and care routine that can help extend your life together.
- Weight Watching Extra pounds on your pup can accumulate quickly. According to the American Kennel Club’s chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, “Obesity is the number one preventative health issue of American dogs.” Make sure your dog’s weight stays within a healthy range for their age and breed.One quick check of whether your dog is overweight is to feel their ribs. Generally, your dog’s ribs should be easy to feel without you having to press hard, but they shouldn’t be prominently visible. In overweight dogs, their ribs are harder to feel because there is too much fat in the way. Of course, since all dogs are different, work with your veterinarian to determine what a healthy weight looks like for your dog and how to balance their diet to maintain their health.
- Exercise Dogs are active animals that need regular exercise to maintain their mental and physical health. Keeping up a normal exercise routine even as a pup ages is crucial to keeping them young. As dogs age, they may need more frequent, but shorter, doses of exercise. Even if your older dog can’t make it around the lakes like they used to, they still need activity to stay healthy. Try to accommodate them by taking them out around the neighborhood or playing fetch in your yard. And make sure there’s plenty of fresh drinking water around for their post-exercise refreshment!However, if your pup suddenly becomes unable to complete their regular exercise activities or shows any signs of discomfort exercising, call your veterinarian to make sure they haven’t sustained an injury or illness.
- Brain Games Mental stimulation is just as important as physical exercise when it comes to keeping your dog young. According to Dr. Klein, there are plenty of easy ways to keep your pup sharp. “A new route on your daily walk [will] let your dog discover new scents and sights. Puzzle toys, short road trips, and dog sports such as agility, rally, and barn hunt will stimulate your dog’s mind.”Slow feeders and lick mats are great ways to engage your pooch and enrich their routine. Most dogs enjoy playing a good, old fashioned game of Hide and Seek with their food, and their treats and toys too.
- Healthcare and Grooming Maintaining your dog’s good health can help keep them feeling young and fit. Frequent veterinary visits are essential to tracking your pup’s health and staying in front of any health issues that arise as they age. Finding a veterinarian you trust – and who knows your dog’s health history – is one of the greatest assets you can have as a pup parent! Staying on top of vaccines and health screenings can help you catch any health concerns before they become serious and/or costly..Like veterinary care, frequent professional grooming is a key component in maintaining a pup’s health routine. Dr. Klein points out that, “grooming is another way to do a thorough, hands-on exam of the mouth, ear canals, paws and nails, joints, and anal sacks. Additionally, [groomers] may feel any unusual lumps or bumps, which should always be brought to the attention of a veterinarian.” And don’t we all feel just a little bit younger after a great haircut or spa day?
- Socializing An active social life for dogs of all ages is shown to keep them happy and active for longer. For older dogs, socializing with younger pups can help reignite their youthful energy and reactivate some of their inner puppy playfulness.Taking your pup to doggy daycare or the neighborhood dog park are two great ways to maintain your dog’s active social life at all ages. The physical and mental stimulation they get from being around other pups is a huge bonus!
Want some further information on how dogs age, and maybe have your pooch participate in some ground-breaking research? Check out the Dog Aging Project.At Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out, keeping dogs looking and feeling their best is what we do best. Help preserve and prolong your pup’s youth by keeping them spry and social at Doggy Daycare. Here your pup can play with dogs of all ages and sizes while you run errands or go to work. And Dog’s Day Out is right next door for when your
The advice provided is based on many years of experience as dog parents and operators of one of the largest and longest established dog daycare and boarding facilities in the Twin Cities. Always consult your veterinarian. When not sharing advice, our dog bloggers — Frannie, Lyle, and Helen — share a space with their people, Downtown Dogs and Dog’s Day Out owner Ralph Bernstein and his wife, Abbe.