As our dogs age, we always want to do the best we can to prolong our best friend's life for as long as we can, and make sure we've done all we can to give them the best quality of life in their declining years.
As the owner of an elderly dog, and someone who is asked to recommend products occasionally, I've been keen to search out and try many of the things on the market. Of course, you should always seek out the advice of your vet and take into account the characteristics of your dog which only you will know and understand, but here are a few items that you may want to consider to help out your old friend.
Just like in humans as we age, the older dog's digestive system will be slowing down. This means that hard-to-digest foods are a struggle, and much needed nutrients may not be as efficient in helping renew cells and regenerate you dog as they used to be.
High protein foods take a lot of breaking down into useable form, and produce a lot more waste products that need processing through liver and kidneys - and while a high protein diet is just what a young active dog needs to provide energy, the older dog is better served by an easily digestible diet with a higher carbohydrate content. This means picking your dog food products carefully and looking for high energy feeds that are low in protein. The most easily digested protein for the older dog is found in milk and eggs.
An excellent source of protein for elderly dogs is Goat's Milk. The reason being that the fat and protein molecules are very much smaller than cow's milk, and more easily digested. A formula I particularly like for elderly dogs is called Top Life - it comes in convenient serving size packages of 200ml, has a good shelf life and it contains added nutrients including condroitin, glucosamine and green tea extract. These all help the immune system, slow down aging and generally improve wellbeing. Dogs tell me it is very tasty too!
In addition, Mark & Chappell offers a really good range of dietary supplements to help tackle aging joints. One of their best is Arthriti-Um which contains a selection of natural products that promote good bone health especially vital for older dogs with stiffening joints.
In terms of equipment, an older dog often appreciates a non-slip feeding bowl, raised off the floor if they have longer legs, so they don't put additional strain on their joints when bending down to eat. Many people swear by Magnopulse Magnetic Pain Relieving collars to alleviate arthritis pain and while the evidence seems mostly anecdotal they are said by supporters to produce miraculous results. Finally, of course, a comfy bed is a must. For older dogs with stiff joints, this needs to be bigger than the dog so they can lay out comfortably. A microwaveable Snugglesafe heat pad is a boon for a long-lived hot-water bottle effect to relieve aching joints - it has almost miraculous heat retaining properties and will keep warm and provide comfort for hours on end.
Of course the most important thing for your elderly dog is a loving home, compassion for their aches and pains and respect. Only the loving owner can provide a comforting touch and reassuring word for their life-time companion.