Canine Chat: Looking after our golden oldies

Our mini dachshund Alfie who’s almost eight and loves being outdoors

Our mini dachshund Alfie who’s almost eight and loves being outdoors - Credit: Archant

At a time when we’re all looking out for the older members of our society, I thought now was the perfect opportunity to shine a light upon the needs of the older dog.

While most owners would cite the adorable puppyhood stage as their most memorable and favourite period of their pet’s development, I actually thoroughly enjoy the ages from seven years onwards, when a dog is classed as entering their ‘senior’ years.

Of course, that level of enjoyment has a close correlation to the state of health your pet enjoys, for, exactly the same as for us humans, as dogs age they become prone to illness and disease.

However, with a bit of thought and care, there are lots of things the attentive owner can do to ensure their pets live a long and happy life.

I think one of the most important things is a good diet. As dogs age, their dietary requirements change. It is vital that your older dog maintains a healthy weight and keeps that excess fat off.

To do this, your older boys and girls still need their daily exercise - it’s vital for both their mental and physical health.

I regularly see one loving owner walking his old Golden Retriever; she is now very slow, but obviously still loves her walks (judging by her constantly wagging tail) and her patient and adoring owner never hurries her, allowing her to simply take her time.

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For those who have joint or weight issues, little and often is probably the best way to go, far better than being allowed to vegetate on the sofa!

One of our boys, Alfie, will soon be enjoying his eighth birthday, although you wouldn’t know that by looking at him! I put his exceptional vitality down to his long daily walks and a diet of raw meat with additional veggies.

Another important part of elderly dog care is grooming. Gentle grooming will detect any lumps or bumps that may occur and allows the owner time to have these checked by a vet early on, and many vets now offer a health checks as part of a senior care plan.