Like people, when dogs get older, weight can all too easily be gained.
Sometimes the reason for the weight gain is quite simple and can be easily remedied, at other times we might need some veterinary advice to make sure there is no underlying problem.
Here are 3 of the most common reasons older dogs can gain weight and how you can help your dog stay healthy.
Exercise: Shake up your dog’s regime
Just because our older dogs can’t do the miles they once did and we’re conscious of how exercise will impact on their joints, doesn’t mean they have to miss out altogether.
Use it as a good excuse to find a new walking route, somewhere full of new smells and sights where you can do short bursts rather than long stretches.
You can also consider introducing new fun games to play at home which are good for mental stimulation and provide outlets for short bursts of activity. For example, does your dog have a favourite toy?
If so, why not have a game of hide and seek?
K9 Magazine says, “Canine hide and seek might sound like a bit of a laugh, but it stimulates an integral area of many dogs’ natural instincts such as scent tracking. People lost in avalanches are only too glad that the St Bernard that finds them likes a good game of hide and seek, and now you can bond with your dog indoors or out come rain or shine, in this fun, obedience orientated and stimulating activity.”
Read the magazine’s step by step guide to playing hide and seek with your dog here: http://www.k9magazine.com/hide-seek-dogs/
Nutrition: Change your dog’s diet
As your dog gets older, their body evolves too, and this changes the way and speed at which they digest and absorb food. This is why you’ll often see senior dog foods with different ingredients highlighted on the label.
Look into different dog foods and learn what might best suit your dog, for example, would a diet dog food work for them at their stage of life, or would they prefer an alternative diet which is more suited to their age with adjustments made elsewhere (such as swapping their normal treats to a healthier, less calorie heavy alternative) to keep their weight in check?
Health: MOT your dog
You know your dog better than anyone else so it goes without saying you can pick up on the subtlest of changes to their behaviour or health easier than anyone else.
It’s important that as your dog ages, you keep an eye on their health and wellbeing.
If they gain weight, ask yourself if there’s an underlying issue to be treated.
For example, Cushing’s Syndrome and diabetes are two of the most common reasons for older dogs to have an increased appetite.
In some cases, parasites, such as worms can also lead to weight gain so make sure your pet is regularly treated.
Changes to behaviour, lumps and bumps and weight loss should be monitored and checked out too.
Your dog’s weight can have an impact on their organs and joints, which is why it’s crucial you make sure your dog’s weight is kept in check so as little extra weight and strain is put on them as possible.