My Labrador is now 11 years old and is less able to run and exercise the way he used to back in the day. What can I do to help to keep him happy – both physically and mentally – as he enters his senior years?
Nick Jones advises…
This is an interesting question, as all dog owners will be confronted with the same situation at one point or another. Learning to adapt to your dog’s changing physical and mental needs is important to ensure a happy and fulfilling life to the very end.
Older dogs are often quite happy to go on more sedate walks that simply involve taking in some fresh air and scenting the ground. My old Vizsla, Amber, now sadly passed away, would happily run to pick up a retrieval dummy or two very late in life. This gave us mutual enjoyment and satisfaction. It doesn’t particularly matter what activities you do with an older dog, as long as it remains within your dog’s abilities and you both continue to enjoy that activity together.
One of the lovely things about elderly dogs is that they do not mourn the loss of their youth as we might, or take self-pity in the discomfort of arthritis, for example. They just live in the moment. In this respect, they set us a great example.
So, gentle, shorter walks if you feel that’s appropriate for him – and talk with your vet about joint supplementation too, if you feel that may help. Simply spending quality time with your dog can be just as valuable as walking or doing the things you may have done in days gone by