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Winter pet care for older dogs

[Sponsored post] We’ve already had a couple of seriously cold snaps this winter; the kind of weather that makes you just want to crawl back into bed and wake up again in spring. If it’s uncomfortably cold for you, then you can bet your rusks and coffee that your senior dog is feeling it too. Senior dogs include those in the six to 10-year range (breed dependent), so whether you want to give your adult dog the best care to prepare for more comfortable senior years, or whether you are caring for your grey-faced furry friend, use these tips as a checklist for your dog’s winter care.

1. Does your dog have a warm, supportive bed?

When the days are short and the cold is biting, you know that the warmest and most comfortable place to be is in bed. Your dog shares the same sentiments… just add treats. The quality of his mattress will become more important the older he gets, especially when it comes to keeping him warm and giving him a supportive place to rest his painful joints. Dog-O-Pedic’s memory foam mattresses meet both ends. Just add blankets.

Choose from the following memory foam mattresses to give your furry friend a comfy place to rest this winter:

2. Are you feeding your dog’s joints?

Long before you begin to notice a limp or change in your dog’s gait, you should consider a supplement to help support her joints. Aside from properly managing your dog’s weight to take any unnecessary stress off her joints, giving her a joint supplement will help to improve her flexibility, reduce any inflammation and strengthen her joint cartilage. Some dogs are predisposed to osteoarthritis and degenerative joint disease (DJD) and should be getting a joint supplement from as early as one year old, so it’s never too early. Speak to your vet about the right joint support for your dog. Many vets recommend GCS Joint Care Advanced, which comes in liquid, chew, and powder format for dogs, and a gel for cats.

3. Are you exercising your senior dog?

You may feel inclined to let your older dog rest her weary bones, especially if she’s led an active life from puppyhood, but dogs need to stay active for as long as possible. Exercise is really good for seniors as it helps to maintain muscle tone, which in turn supports their bones and joints. Go at your dog’s pace, so for an older dog, just reduce the duration and intensity of the exercise. Shorter, slower walks and activities will still help to keep your furry friend in good shape. If it’s too nippy outside, inside games are just as good to keep your dog active at a lower intensity. And don’t forget the mental stimulation as well – old dogs can learn new tricks!

Keep fresh water close by to keep your old buddy properly hydrated.

4. Does your old dog need a warm jacket?

There are pros and cons of dressing your dog in a jacket, but when it comes to senior dogs, this issue needs more careful consideration. Older dogs may not have very strong immune systems, their coats are thinner (especially short-haired breeds) and they get cold faster, so they will likely need some ‘synthetic assistance’ in winter. Choose a doggy jersey or jacket that is a comfortable fit (not too loose, not too tight) and one that your dog is happy to wear. Take it off regularly for grooming and to assess your dog’s acclimatisation.

5. How often does your vet see your senior dog?

Even if your senior dog doesn’t look ill, it’s important to take him for a vet check-up at least once a year – twice for peace of mind. If you have any questions about your senior pet’s appetite, weight or diet, exercise regimen, or any behavioural concerns, your vet will be able to answer them and provide solutions.

When it comes to senior pets, prevention is better than cure, especially when it comes to their health and wellbeing in winter.

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