5 Must-Haves for Your Senior Dog

5 Must-Haves for Your Senior Dog

After years of loyal companionship, you’re dedicated to keeping your dog happy and healthy as a senior. But where and how do you start? Caring for senior dogs is different than caring for a pet in its prime, but it doesn’t need to be overly complicated. With these five things, you can give your senior dog the care it needs and deserves.

A Great Veterinarian

Routine veterinary check-ups are smart at every life stage, but they’re especially important in your dog’s senior years. You’ll get better care from a veterinarian who knows your pet’s health history, so search for a vet you like and stick with them rather than hopping around. Signs you’ve found a great veterinarian include thorough examinations, easy-to-understand communication, and staff that listens to your concerns — both health-related and monetary.

Pet Insurance

Speaking of money: No one wants to skip veterinary care because they can’t afford it. Unfortunately, that’s a reality for many pet owners. Veterinary care can be costly, and while families budget for routine vet appointments, they’re not always prepared for veterinary emergencies and sick pets. If you don’t want to find yourself in the position of choosing between your pet’s health and your wallet, consider buying a pet insurance policy.

Pet insurance is designed to cover the unexpected parts of veterinary care, although some policies offer wellness plan riders. That means you need to buy before your pet develops a health condition and or passes the age limit. While most pet insurance policies require you to pay first then file for reimbursement, some have the ability to pay vets directly. However, it’s still important to ensure you can afford the deductible.

Pill Pockets or a Pill Gun

If your pet does develop a health condition, you’ll need an easy way to administer their medications. While some medications are easy to hide in food, others are more challenging to mask. If your dog turns its nose up at medications hidden in food or Pill Pockets, you’ll need a pill gun to administer oral medications.

Orthopedic Pet Beds

Senior dogs are prone to arthritis just like senior people, but the right home furnishings will keep your aging pet comfortable. One must-have for senior dogs is an orthopedic dog bed. Orthopedic pet beds have foam cores that relieve pressure on your dog’s tender joints. As a result, they develop fewer joint calluses and have an easier time getting up to play after a nap.

Don’t think older dogs need playtime? While senior dogs do tend to slow down, exercise is just as important as ever. As long as you don’t overdo it, exercise is a great way to promote joint health and keep your dog’s mind active during their later years.

Balanced Dog Food

Nutritional needs change as your pet ages, and so should its food. However, it’s not as simple as going out and buying a product labeled as senior dog food. As the Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University explains, there’s no standard definition of senior pet food. Some foods marketed for senior dogs may fail to meet your pet’s nutritional needs.

Instead of simply switching to senior dog food, talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s specific nutritional needs and look for a food that matches them. That could be dry, canned, freeze-dried, or raw food (Primal Formulas from Shelzsmide K9s have 100 percent human-grade ingredients), but the important thing is that it has quality ingredients and is nutritionally balanced for your pet’s health.

There’s no friend more loyal than a senior dog. After enjoying your dog’s company for so many years, repay the favor by making your dog’s health and well-being a priority in seniorhood. While it’s tough watching your dog slow down, with the right care, you and your dog can enjoy more good years ahead.

Coutresy Writer Jessica Brody