DOGS

How to Keep Your Senior Pets Stimulated

As your pet gets older you might find that they are less interested in matters than they once were. Exercise may seem less attractive for them and they may stop playing with toys which were once their favorite things on the planet. Age needn’t prevent your pet from having a satisfying, stimulating life; it might just mean that you have to be a little innovative.

According to Stanley Coren, PhD., DSc., FRSC, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia,. “The brains of animals that have lived in changing and complex environments actually become larger. New connections develop between existing neurons in the cortex as a result of experience. Recent evidence demonstrates that it is even possible to grow new neural cells in important areas of the brain that are associated with learning, memory and the organization of behavior.”

Notice he says ‘changing and complex environments’ which means we need to get them outside of our own backyards so they can be exposed to different sights, smells and sounds making our walks, in new places, a necessary component of their exercise routines. And if you need a little help getting out of your immediate area you can take advantage of travel products such as the Dogger stroller. I use my Dogger with my own seniors so we can go on long walks because it allows my dogs to get the exercise and stimulation they need, but it also gives them a chance to take a break so they don’t overdo it. Without the Dogger I would only be able to go on short walks and we would not be able to be as active as we like to be.

Exercise has been shown to affect human brains in the same way. “Studies of senior citizens who walk regularly showed significant improvement in memory skills compared to sedentary elderly people. Walking also improved their learning ability, concentration, and abstract reasoning in people who walked as little as 20 minutes a day. Furthermore, research from the Salk Institute demonstrates that physical exercise has a protective effect on the brain and its mental processes, and may even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.” describes Coren. 

portrait of a panting mongret dog

Food


Regardless of your pet’s age they still need to eat and drink. Making these vital actions fun for these will add an extra dimension to mealtimes and help keep them mentally active. Puzzle feeders such as KONG products will give them a way to work because of their food that isn’t overly taxing and in a means that means they will probably not lose interest and give up. Sealing their regular meals into one of these with a tasty treat of a paste-like consistency (like fish or meat glue ) can make the sport more rewarding for them.

When it comes to water having a water fountain may make drinking seem like much more enjoyable.

Playtime


Playtime is one of the most significant things about pet ownership but, as time continues, the games may want to change just a little bit. Aching joints and decreased stamina can mean that lively games do not last so long but maintaining your pet lively is indeed important. Consider throwing the ball shorter distances once you play fetch to allow for reduced fitness levels and decreasing vision.

My dog Buffy is nearly 12 today (which is good going to get a Labrador) and she’s some hearing problems so it’s best to play games at which she can rely on her greater senses like sight or odor.

We play”Hide the deal” where we will hold both hands in front of her at a fist and let her try and sniff out that hand has a feel concealed. If she chooses properly (by sniffing one hand for a very long time) she gets the handle! This game is very good when you use beneficial snacks that contain ingredients like Glucosamine which are good for joints. For cats, who can get bored with the very same toys quicker, try catnip toys or even remote-controlled mice to chase. If you play with your pet’s strengths, you’ll find they are usually more than pleased to play, regardless of their age.

Contact


I am sure none of you want to get encouraged to demonstrate affection for your pets; we now have a number of ways we reveal our pets we love these. With age our pets can lose their vision or hearing, or perhaps both. Being more tactile together with your dog is an unmistakable gesture that they will know. Simple things such as sitting on the ground alongside them giving them a little stroke should they walk to heel with you may guarantee your dog that you’re there and you care.

Socialisation


I discover I can never stress enough that the vital importance of socialisation. Even cats, who have a reputation for being solitary creatures, will benefit from time spent with other creatures. My grandparents’ dog Thor is really struggling in their own old age and is seldom busy, preferring to spend the majority of his time in his bed staring from the window. The only time that he perks up is as soon as the cat, Hugo, shows up and then Thor is up on his toes and playing like his old self. Hugo is nearly fifteen himself so they never play especially boisterously or for long periods but that brief shot of activity is sometimes all Thor can handle and it’s enough to enhance blood flow, raise his heart rate and get the blood pumping a bit more efficiently for a while.

Supplying you can recognise when your pet is reaching their limits and can measure in accordingly, socialisation is one of the most effective ways to keep your pet active, happy and engaged.

Tricks


The old adage”You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” is completely untrue. In reality, older dogs can be a lot calmer and more concentrated than puppies are. Just take the opportunity to try and teach your dog a new trick as well as practising any control words they know. Simple things like”paw” or”roll over” may be easy and enjoyable to learn and, even if they don’t pick up the newest control time spent collectively trying it’ll have given your pet some mental stimulation for a little while.

If our pets get older we are continuously reminded of how precious our time together is which is why keeping them happy and stimulated is just as vital as when they are dogs.