You can help your older dog cope by considering her needs when it comes to your home, its surroundings, and the environment it creates for your dog. By incorporating a little care and a modified, veterinarian-recommended lifestyle, you may be able to increase your dog’s brain activity. In fact, the latest studies have found that regular, moderate physical activity, mental stimulation with interactive toys, and a diet rich in antioxidants may help maintain your aging dog’s mental health. Again, your veterinarian should be consulted before changing any of your dog’s exercise or feeding regimens; but also try to keep your senior dog’s environment familiar and friendly, and:
* Try not to change, rearrange, or even refurbish furniture
* Eliminate clutter to create wide pathways through your house
* Consider purchasing or building a ramp for any stairways
* Know your dog’s limits when introducing new toys, food, people, or other animals
* Develop a routine feeding, watering, and walking schedule
* Keep commands short, simple, and compassionate
* Encourage gentle and involved, short play sessions
Old dogs become more ‘human’ as they get older, requiring special attention and care. Research in human dementia is yielding data which is very applicable to aging dogs. You can read into a dog’s behavior problems whatever you want to or are afraid of most. Please consult professional or otherwise proficient animal health care providers if in any doubt about how to make your dog feel as young as possible in her older year.
Most importantly, keep your patience and compassion. Your dog’s world has changed, but every effort should be made to show her that your love, respect, and pride of her past and present abilities has not changed and never will.