Every dog owner has been there: You grab the leash and before you can even finish muttering the words “Do you wanna go for a walk”, your dog comes bounding down the stairs, tail wagging ferociously with the familiar look of sheer joy and impassioned intensity stamped across his face. It’s no secret that dogs get excited over the simplest things in life, and perhaps that’s part of the reason we love them so much. Arguably one of the happiest animals out there, dogs have it pretty good: They lounge around all day and spend hours running around in their fiery spirits all afternoon and evening.
Many people are surprised when that same word—“walk”—warrants the same unyielding eagerness in even the oldest dogs. While it seems as though the fiery spirit of a dog never fully burns out, it is extremely common for a dog’s enthusiasm to get dampened by a variety of health issues as they get older. Some of these issues—which often include overextension, joint trouble, and even sun damage—can be directly attributed to the years of reckless abandon your dog enjoyed right in your own backyard! These health-related issues mean that taking the necessary precautions before heading out to the park, backyard, or pool are more important than you may think. But don’t fret—there are several easy and effective ways to maintain your dog’s good health. Listed below are 5 easy tips any dog owner can take to ensure their dog lives a long, happy, and pain-free life (with hopefully many walks).
1) Maintain a Proper Diet
We know how hard it can be denying your furry little friend a scrap from the dinner table. However, saying “no” to those longing puppy-dog eyes can help them live a much happier and pain-free life in the long run. Dogs who are overweight run a much higher risk of developing joint pain and arthritis than dogs at normal weights. Make sure to read the nutritional facts before purchasing your dog food and try to seek out healthier alternatives. Additionally, it is important to note that the amount of food you feed your dog per day depends heavily on its size and activity level. Older dogs who don’t exercise as much as puppies or younger dogs typically don’t require the same amount of food each day. Speak with your veterinarian to create a specific dietary plan that will meet the nutritional and health needs of your dog’s specific breed, size, and activity level. Gelatin supplements, like our Canine and Feline Gelatin Supplements, are affordable and effective in stimulating joint fluid and promoting proper joint health. Gelatin is noted to have anti-inflammatory and brain-protective affects that are especially important during a dog’s aging process. Gelatin also has been found to increase a dog’s ability to utilize the proteins found in its food. It protects the lining of the stomach, soothes upset stomachs, and helps other digestive ailments as well!
2) Avoid Over Exercising
This may seem counterintuitive, but over exercising your dog can lead to overextension and can either develop or worsen preexisting joint problems. While regular exercise is highly recommended, too much can put an unwanted strain on your dog’s limbs and may cause injuries. Injuries can be extremely hard for dogs to recover from and often regress into serious arthritis issues. Dogs are especially prone to overextension and joint pain is they spend their weekdays with little-to-no activity and play for prolonged periods during the weekend. Be sure to be aware of your dog’s expressions as they play and exercise: if they look fatigued or in pain, stop immediately.
3) Treat Injuries Promptly
Injuries are not to be taken lightly with dogs. It can take a dog much longer to recover from an injury than a human and can have a much bigger toll on their overall health. Arthritis, one of the most prevalent health issues among dogs, almost always develops from a previous injury that either went untreated or didn’t receive sufficient care. Over exercise, jumping, and running too long and too hard can put a heavy strain on your dog, especially if they are a puppy, and can easily result in health complications later in life.
4) Go Easy on the Trimming Shears and get the Proper Shade
Next time you’re at the beach and rub in some sunscreen, save some for your dog! Many people don’t realize that dogs can also be negatively affected by the sun—and yes—they can even get sunburns! Dogs with coats that are white or naturally thin and short have particularly sensitive skin and can be readily affected by the sun’s intense rays. People who shave or trim their dogs should also take caution when doing so and make sure that they leave a long enough coat to shield from the sun’s powerful beams. Sunburns and even skin cancer can result if your dog doesn’t get enough shade (or even sunblock) and can be a costly medical issue to fix. Next time you’re by the pool or lounging on the beach, make sure the shade under your umbrella reaches your dog and dab a little sunscreen on their nose, ears, or other bare skin. There is no need to buy specialty sunblock for your dog, for you can use the same brand that you use on yourself!
5) Make Your Dog Comfortable
Dogs spend an awful lot of time laying around, and many even lay on hard surfaces like title or wood floors. Along with other factors, stress on joints is one of the leading causes of arthritis among dogs. If your dog spends a lot of time laying on hard floors, they may be putting unwanted pressure on sensitive bones and joints. Many dogs choose to lay on tile or wood floors in the summer because it is a much cooler option than sleeping on their bed. An easy and affordable solution is to buy mats, which have a cool surface your dog can enjoy and provide them with the cushioning they need to support their sensitive joints.
With a little bit of planning and a watchful eye, you can make sure your dog enjoys all the excitement and benefits of an active life well into their senior years. What are some ways you help your pup look and feel his or her best? Share with us in the comments below!