Senior dogs can start to experience changes in cognitive function as they age, just like people can. Here are some ways that you can help challenge your dog’s brain and help prevent cognitive decline.
Teach your old dog new tricks:
- Name their toys: Start with one toy until he recognizes the name and brings it when you ask and keep adding until your dog can bring each toy by name.
- Create a food-finding game with recycled containers: Hide an assortment of food and treats in or under any empty containers you have lying around the house (like yogurt cups, clean take-out containers, egg cartons, plastic cups…) and place them around the room, or yard. Once your food-finding course is ready let your dog hunt for his treats. This will challenge your dog’s problem-solving ability and is a great way to keep a senior dog active.
- Take your old dog to an obedience course for a refresher. Not only does it help to strengthen the bond between you and your dog, it strengthens their brain as well.
- Trick training is another great way to challenge your senior dog. High five, dance, find it, to more advanced tricks like collecting their toys and putting them away.
- Teaching your dog hand signals for commands is a great way to challenge your dog, and it will also be beneficial when your dog starts to lose his hearing and can no longer obey oral commands.
Lifestyle Changes for Senior Dogs:
Proper nutrition is key to helping to prevent cognitive decline and keep your best friend happy and healthy. Give them brain boosting foods like cold water fish, blueberries, turmeric, eggs, dandelion greens, beets, and bone broth, all foods that you can safely give to your senior dog that will nourish brain function and promote healing. Dr. Maggie Skin & Coat is an effective way to support brain function and improve overall health due to its high content of EPA and DHA, fatty acids known for improving brain function.
Keep them physically active. Taking into consideration any handicaps your senior dog may have like arthritis, or hip dysplasia you can still exercise with your dog. Getting them out of the house and experiencing new people, dogs, and situations will engage your dog and keep them healthy. Other ways to get out and about with your dog include:
- Take your dog along when you run errands. Car rides, trips, or even to the mailbox can expose your dog to new experiences to wear them out.
- Going for a walk in a different neighborhood, or park will expose your dog to new sights and smells. This will help keep their brains and nose engaged.
- Try the dog park: If your dog likes meeting new people and dogs try taking them to the dog park. The new sights, sounds, and new dog butts to sniff will provide him with plenty of opportunity to engage his senses.
Toys for Older Dogs:
Toys can be a fun way to keep your dog on his toes, here are some things to keep in mind when thinking of toys for your older buddy.
- Buy them toys specific to seniors: Toys that are softer or easier on older jaws and sensitive teeth. Chuck It! Indoor Ball is a great toy for aging dog’s with sensitive teeth.
- Treat your dog to new toys: And rotate out older toys that they don’t play with as often. Even their own toys that they haven’t seen in a while can be exciting when you switch them up.
We all want our dogs to thrive, so use these helpful tips and keep your senior dog active and engaged. A healthy pet, is a happy pet after all!