Did you know that a dog as young as six year’s old can begin exhibiting senior dog symptoms?  There are many variables involved but we know that larger dogs age more quickly than dogs less than 20 lbs.

Here are some great tips from Veterinarian Dr Karen Becker on helping your dog enjoy his or her golden years.

Feed your dog from one of the great new puzzle toys available now.  They provide mental stimulation and fun for your dog to work out how to get his dinner.

Go for a walk instead of a jog or play a good game of tug instead of a game of chase.  When playing tug ensure you have your dog exhibit a little self-control by periodically holding the tug toy against your chest until your dog lets go then letting her play again.  This will help even your senior dog learn a little “tug manners”.

Consider using ramps or steps to help your dog up into bed or a favorite chair and especially the car.

More frequent potty trips outside; reintroduction to his crate if he was crate trained initially.  You’d be surprised at how quickly they take to their crate again.  Also have a special treat just for the crate – a  frozen Kong toy filled with a variety of treats and capped with natural peanut butter is a special treat loved by puppies and seniors alike!

Your dog still enjoys the company of other pets and people but take care not to over stimulate them – short periods of playtime and exercise in controlled situations are best for your senior dog.

If your dog has site or hearing problems use odor cues likes scented candles or other aromatherapy scents to help your dog navigate their way around.

If your dog isn’t sleeping well, increasing his daytime activity level can help. Let your pup sleep in your bedroom. Sleeping near his human should help ease any anxiety that is contributing to his nighttime restlessness.

Guide your dog with clear cues and easy-to-follow instructions, especially if he’s showing signs of mental decline.

When you talk to your dog, keep your voice quiet, calm and kind – and please don’t ever shout at him. Older dogs can become easily stressed and quite depressed.

Keep your dog at a healthy weight – overweight dogs are at significant increased risk for disease as they age.

Maintain your dog’s dental health with regular dental hygiene and perhaps a nice raw recreational bone a few times a week.

With the right nutrition and regular veterinary care you can significantly help your dog enjoy their golden years with you.