8 Tips for Keeping a Senior Dachshund Fit and Healthy
This is a guest blog post from Sarah Czarnecki and readysetpuppy.com
Just like people, even the most energetic of puppies slow down with age. It’s normal for senior dachshunds to lose energy and gain weight, but keeping your dog in good shape inside and out will help him live a long and happy life. Here are some top tips to keep your senior dog’s inner puppy thriving.
Dachshunds are champion nappers and the older they get, the longer they want to rest. As tempting as it may be to let sleeping dogs lie, it’s important to keep your senior dachshund active and alert. Do allow your senior dog plenty of rest, but don’t let napping take up his entire day.
If your senior dog has grown accustomed to watching the world go by, start slowly. For dogs with low mobility due to weight, pain, or advanced age, try walking just a few minutes at a time multiple times a day. Increase the distance and duration of your walks to improve energy level.
It’s important not to overdo it, but maintaining regular exercise is essential to keeping your dog fit. As a bonus, frequent outdoor walking eases arthritis, improves mental stimulation, keeps nails trimmed, and helps keep your pet’s weight under control. Working in plenty of physical activity will do wonders to maintain your dog’s overall health!
Be patient when rousing your resting dog for exercise. Seniors may find that their limbs are stiff and slow to get going after a good nap.
Provide a Balanced Diet
All dogs are subject to obesity, but dachshunds are especially prone. No snack is safe around sausage dogs! Obesity is dangerous, though, and can lead to significant health issues, reduced energy, and sadly, a shortened lifespan.
Offer senior doxies a low-fat diet and trim back the treats. Keep an eye on what your dog eats -- dachshunds are known to ingest things they shouldn’t. A diet that includes human food or miscellaneous findings from the yard is likely to upset a senior’s stomach more than that of a young dog.
Sticking to a balanced diet specially formulated for senior dogs will help maintain good health. Check with your veterinarian about vitamins, supplements, and choosing the best foods for your canine companion.
Maintain Good Oral Hygiene
As dogs age, their teeth and gums become more sensitive. Dachshunds can develop dental issues more frequently than other breeds.
Stay on top of your senior dog’s oral hygiene to stave off gum disease. A dog with gum disease not only has terrible breath but may experience pain when he eats. Furthermore, it can cause tooth loss, heart disease, infections, and a reduced quality of life. Painful chewing can make it difficult for your dog to eat healthy foods, leading to serious stomach complications and unhealthy weight loss.
Start practicing good oral hygiene before it becomes a problem by brushing regularly and offering plenty of fresh water every day. Take it easy when playing tug of war and monitor your dog’s pain levels while eating. Maintaining healthy teeth and gums is one of the easiest and most effective ways to keep any dog healthy!
Take Care of Your Dog’s Skin and Coat
Doxies are susceptible to irritating skin conditions, so frequent brushing is a great way to monitor skin health, prevent dandruff, and soothe itching.
Pet and brush your dog’s fur regularly, especially if you have a longhaired doxie. Older dogs spend more time resting, which can lead to mats or even sores on the skin. Matted fur is a breeding ground for bacteria and large tangles can be painful or even debilitating.
Senior dogs sometimes lose teeth, which causes excessive drooling. The moisture on the skin can exacerbate skin conditions, so wash your dog’s face to remove tear stains and excess saliva.
Dogs naturally change their gait to accommodate excessively long nails. This can be painful for an arthritic senior, so keep nails neatly trimmed to reduce stress and avoid snags. Maintaining good grooming habits keeps elderly dogs comfortable and looking their best!
Take care with Jumping and Stair-Climbing
One of dachshunds’ most endearing features is their unusual body shape. It is undoubtedly adorable and perfect for cuddling, but can grow to be arthritic and painful. Jumping up and down from furniture or climbing stairs can add to your dog’s pain.
Use a doggy ramp to help your dog climb up and down from furniture, and avoid stairs whenever possible. If you must carry your doxie, always provide support across the entire length of the dog to minimize spinal strain.
IVDD, or intervertebral disc disease, is a painful, sometimes debilitating, spinal disorder. It affects 1 in 6 dogs across all breeds, but dachshunds are especially prone: the odds of your doxie developing IVDD is 1 in 4. Preventing jumping and providing joint-healthy foods and supplements can help reduce your doxie’s odds of developing this painful disease.
Talk to your veterinarian about finding a joint-healthy diet.
Provide Mental Stimulation
One often-overlooked way to keep your senior dachshund healthy is to provide mental stimulation.
Doxies are clever, social, and have a strong prey drive. Puzzles, toys, snuffle mats, textured chews, or simple tricks and tasks will keep your dog’s mind sharp. Remember the benefits of socialization with other dogs and humans. With your veterinarian’s okay, your dog may enjoy trying new foods and treats.
Dogs who have gone deaf or blind still need plenty of pets and walks. Even just offering your dog interesting smells will help keep his mind sharp. It’s unlikely that your dog will completely lose his sense of smell, even in the golden years, and a good sniff at the local fire hydrant will keep his mental gears turning.
Low-riding dogs are always close to the ground, so extreme heat or cold can be very irritating. In the rain, a wet belly is miserable.
Keep your senior dog warm with sweaters in the winter, and cool in the summer with plenty of water and shade. Dry him off after coming in from the rain to prevent skin problems and general discomfort.
Your senior dachshund will thank you for providing a comfortable bed, too!
Visit the Veterinarian Regularly
Even if your senior spends as little time outdoors as possible, it’s important to keep up with vaccinations. Fleas and ticks are just as attracted to senior dogs as they are rambunctious puppies.
Dogs tend not to express their physical discomfort until it is unbearable, so regular checkups can help keep major diseases at bay. As dogs age, common conditions like arthritis, kidney problems, heart disease, and cataracts may crop up, but regular veterinary examinations can reduce the odds.
All dogs, no matter their age, need love, attention, and good healthcare. With regular veterinary care and good health maintenance, you and your senior dachshund can enjoy many more happy years together.