TV vet Dr James Greenwood has started his new partnership with manufacturer Forthglade with a campaign to educate dog owners about the specific needs of older dogs.
The campaign comes after research of 2,000 UK dog owners, commissioned by Forthglade, found that 43% of owners believe “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”.
The research also showed that 51% of dog owners said they had stopped all behavioural training by the time their dog would be considered senior (7-10 years old) and, when it comes to exercise, a quarter of dog owners believe senior dogs should be walked for 30 minutes daily.
However, expecting them to run long distances, making drastic changes to their daily routine or engaging in high-impact activities are unadvisable for older dogs, as they might have aged past this phase, according to Greenwood.
He said: “As a dog ages, it’s important to keep them moving, but be sure to keep it within their own individual capabilities. If stiff joints or mobility problems do start to become an issue, speaking to a vet should always be the first step, as lots can be done to keep older dogs mobile”.
The research also found that 37% of dog owners feel unsure if they should change their dog’s diet as it ages.
Greenwood continued: “It’s really important to think about what our dogs need at every single step of their life. When they reach about seven years old, it’s a good idea to change them to a diet that’s natural and complete, that is lower in fat, calories and with the right balance of vitamins and minerals.”
Forthglade’s canine behaviourist Caroline Wilkinson added: “It’s absolutely possible to teach an old dog new tricks, in fact, it’s a great way to keep them mentally stimulated in later life and reduce cognitive decline.
“Learning new skills is a brilliant way to keep your senior dog active, as well as continuing to build your bond together. We know that half the time spent on mental activity is just as stimulating for your dog as double the time on physical activity, and so this is a really easy way to keep their life enriched and happy as they get older.”
The research follows the launch of Forthglade’s new meals for senior dogs that are tailored to support their specific needs. The recipes include 60% meats or fish (lamb, turkey, white fish) plus vitamins, minerals and botanicals, as well Omega 3 and higher levels of glucosamine and chondroitin.