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Many of us treat our Mastiffs like children. No matter their age, we talk to them and play with them the same way as when we got them as puppies; although, the inevitable truth is that they are getting older every second. Even if we don’t want to admit that our Mastiffs are no longer puppies, we can’t just ignore their age-related ailments and need for a more suitable diet. Just because we’re still running and playing with them on most days, it doesn’t change the fact that soon, we’d have to look aging right in the face and provide their new set of needs. As their bodies grow weaker with age, they may find some days more taxing than the others. We need to become aware of the subtle changes in our dogs’ behavior and learn of ways to improve their lives. Their senior years are when our Mastiffs are most special to us. By the time they reach their old age, we’ve already had the greatest moments with our best pals, and they’ve already lived a great life with us. While it’s difficult to see our old Mastiffs struggle sometimes, they still have years to live. At a time in their lives where they need us the most, it’s up to us to make the rest of their years as enjoyable and comfortable as their lives during puppyhood. As with senior dogs of all breeds, caring for them takes time and patience. Especially for Mastiffs that are large, heavy, hungry, and athletic dogs, certain adjustments have to be made
You can incorporate the following lifestyle upgrades to help your senior Mastiff live longer and more comfortably:
Mastiffs live physically active lives, and they need exercise to keep them healthy and happy. Just because they’re getting old doesn’t mean that we should suddenly stop playing with them. In fact, this becomes more important as our dogs age. As in old humans, when dogs age, joint pains and stiffness make it difficult and painful for them to move. To prevent this, we should make sure that our dogs get sufficient exercise even when they’re older; this will help in maintaining their weight and keeping their joints loose.
Moderation is key. This means that we shouldn’t take long hikes with our Mastiffs anymore. We can instead take morning jogs and maybe even teach them how to swim. We should be careful not to over-exercise them as putting too much pressure and activity in their joints can make the wear and tear worse. It’s therefore best to keep the duration of the exercise the same while avoiding slopes and sudden stops that can strain our old Mastiffs’ joints. Getting them their daily exercise needs will prevent obesity, anxiety, and boredom.
It’s common for elderly people to have ramps and wheelchair lifts to be installed in their homes. Doors are widened for their wheelchairs and their essentials are moved within their proximity. This same principle can be applied to ageing Mastiffs. Older dogs may develop problems getting around, especially in homes with flights and flights of stairs. To help them, it’s best to make sure that all their necessities like toys and food bowls are within reach. They shouldn’t have to use the stairs to drink. It will help to install fences that we can open and close by the staircase to prevent accidents from happening. It will take some training and getting used to, but limiting their access to stairs and to the rest of the house will be good for them in the long run. Along with this, we should make a short and easy path for our senior Mastiff to get out to the yard regularly; this will prevent house soiling and poor health brought about by a lack of strain-free exercises. Because we want our senior Mastiffs to still be able to enjoy, purchasing modular and portable ramps can help them access spaces. Ramps can eliminate the pain of getting in and out of the car that normally put pressure on their joints. Climbing up the steps to the front porch and down the patio wouldn’t be difficult tasks to our old pals anymore provided that the ramps are not slippery or too steep. Long ramps that are angled 180 from the ground are recommended.
It’s common knowledge that dogs need regular grooming. What we fail to realize is that young dogs are flexible and can therefore groom themselves somehow. Old dogs, especially huge ones like Mastiffs, not so much. They wouldn’t be able to clean themselves and may therefore need some special help. A properly groomed Mastiff stays clean for much longer, making their lives and ours more comfortable. This will also keep them from contracting diseases; as dogs grow older their coat and skin can become more difficult to upkeep. Especially because Mastiffs are big droolers, giving them a closer haircut will make them much neater. An essential part to good grooming is keeping their nails sufficiently short by having them clipped. Excessively long nails may cause accidental scratches where infections can persist. Long nails can also be painful to our old pals, making it difficult for them to move and exercise.
Senior Mastiffs require more frequent veterinary care. This ranges from check-ups and laboratory exams to shots and oral medications. It’s very important to always keep our vets updated on our dogs’ condition in order for our vets to keep us updated on our old pals’ health. These conditions that we should update our vets on involve our Mastiffs’ behavior, diet, or breathing, walking, sleeping habits, and peeing and pooping habits. These provide echo their health and serve as basis for proper veterinary care. At home, there are things we can do to conduct mini check-ups for our gentle giants. Grooming is a great time to do this, and a way to observe our Mastiffs’ health is to feel for any lumps and bumps that come with old age. Since growths of lumps and bumps increase with age, this can help us make sure that our senior dogs stay healthy and comfortable. As their owners for many years, we should be familiar with our dogs’ normal bodies in order to quickly notice new growths. The sooner we find a bump, the sooner our vet can do something about it.
Although they might still look mighty and tough, senior Mastiffs begin to experience discomfort with extreme weather. During winter, a combination of a thick fleece or wool blanket and dog boots for the outdoors will keep them warm. Still with the blanket wrapped around our Mastiffs’ huge body, letting them stay in the same room as the heat source will keep their joints from getting stiff. In the summer, keeping our old pals from direct sun exposure between 10 in the morning until 5 in the afternoon will keep them from overheating. Kiddie pools, sprinklers, and accessible cool drinking water will also keep them from panting and getting heatstroke.
Mastiffs of all ages love food more than anything. Young ones need plenty of food to fuel their active bodies. However, when they get old, their metabolism slows down and they can’t use up energy from food as quickly as they used to. Even though they will always be athletic, age limits their movement and therefore reduces their activity. To cope with these, they will benefit from food that’s easier to digest. Ground meat will be a good substitute to sliced ones, and serving them wet food instead of dry will encourage them to eat. Their caloric intake should also be reduced to adjust to their reduced physical activity. This will help maintain a healthy body weight as weight gain can increase the wear and tear of their joints, making it more difficult for them to go about their day to day lives.
For dogs that are prone to many health complications, supplements should be part of our Mastiffs’ diet from puppyhood to adulthood. If we weren’t so stringent before in making them take supplements, it’s something that becomes mandatory as they reach their golden years. Supplements make up for nutrients that may be missing in their food, and these nutrients are beneficial for senior dogs. Fish oil supplements can keep their coat, skin, and joints healthy. With the correct dosage, skin ailments and arthritis can be prevented. Glucosamine and Chondroitin supplements will also help in preventing arthritis in dogs by strengthening their connective tissues. Hyaluronic Acid is another supplement that can provide joint support. This acid is found in the lubricating fluid in our Mastiffs’ joints and even our own. It can be administered by the vet through joint injections, and can also be given to our senior dogs through oral supplements. Increasing Hyaluronic Acid in their joints can improve the ability of the lubricating fluid in their joints to make movements smoother. This supplement can also provide fast relief for dogs that are suffering from stiffness and joint pain.
All my life I've been in love with one big dopey Mastiff family member after another. No other breed has given so much pleasure, so it's a joy for my team and I to research everything there is to know about them in this blog. We hope you enjoy the reading as much as we enjoy the writing :)
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