No matter their age, your dog most likely has a strong desire to play. But not all play is suitable for an aging pup. Games that require exertion, like fetch or chase, may no longer be fitting for your older dog and tug games may be too hard on your dog’s neck and teeth. It is important to engage your senior dog in mentally challenging, age-appropriate play that takes into consideration their aching joints, slower reflexes and more delicate mouths.
What To Chew On
Chewing is a natural canine stress reliever. It helps keep teeth clean and jaws exercised, and besides, some dogs just enjoy it! But senior pets often have fewer or more brittle teeth and sensitive gums, so chew toys specifically designed for seniors, using softer, more pliable rubber to be gentle on their mouths, is a great idea!
Ones to consider:
- Kong’s Senior line is specifically designed for older dogs with slightly softer rubber which still lives up to the durability this brand is known for. Plus, you can add tasty treats or filling to keep your pup busy.
- Planet Dog’s Old Soul Line innovatively address issues that every dog experiences as they grow older and wiser: reduced vision and snout strength, weakened jaw muscles and brittle teeth. Soft, buoyant and bouncy, these toys come in high contrast colors and each have different sensory bonuses like the Bone makes a clicking sound when squeezed, the Ball is mint flavored and the Whistle Ball glows in the dark, has a minty scent and whistles when thrown so your pup can follow it easily.
- Himalayan Yak Cheese Chews are safer than rawhide and a great alternative to natural bones or antlers that can be too harsh for a senior dog’s teeth.
Soft Fabrics Galore!
Most dogs love, love, love plush toys. They are fun to baby, fetch, shake and more. Nevertheless, power chewers and pretty much any determined pup can destroy them fairly quickly. Since older dogs’ teeth, gums and jaws are not as strong as they once were and their urge to chew is lessened, it may be time to reintroduce soft stuffed toys. They come in different textures – soft, crinkly, stuffingless – sizes, shapes and sounds to encourage engagement.
Here are some of our favorites:
- Toucan has a unique shape with different appendages for your dog to hold on to. In addition to its squeaker, the wings are crinkly adding different sound and texture to play.
- You have never felt anything as soft as this Cheeky Dragon, making it easy on gums and great to cuddle with!
- Does your pup like to remove all the stuffing? Try these Pelt toys. They come in a 3 pack which is a great value, have no stuffing and are long and floppy making them easy to grasp and throw around.
- Need a soft toy with unique sounds? This Jiggler Chipmunk is for you! This toy is long and skinny making it easy for your pup to grab and makes a fun jiggly noise when shaken by your dog. It also has a crinkly tail for an added bonus.
As our dogs age, it is so important to keep their brains active. Studies show that dog brains are similar to that of humans when aging. Cortical atrophy (brain shrinkage) and ventricular widening occur in aging dogs which leaves their brains susceptible to neuronal dysfunction and ultimately neuronal death. So don’t forget to include interactive toys in their repertoire to provide them with mental stimulation.
Check out these toys your senior pup will love:
- Burrows are interactive hide and seek toys that provide a challenging game they can play alone or with you! You can even thrill your dog more by hiding some of their favorite treats inside. These toys will keep your dog busy and engaged. The soft fabric won’t hurt their teeth and is perfect for your playful grown-up. And they come in tons of different creative, cute themes and styles.
- Puzzles come in a variety of different styles and levels, so pick one that will be challenging for your pup so it will be fun and teach problem solving skills.
- What if your dog is experiencing anxiety? Lick Mats are great to help self sooth, fight boredom and slow down your food gobbler. They come in a variety of different patterns for different types of food and treats. As our dogs age, they may find themselves filled with more boredom as they may not be able to play the same way they use to. This is a great simple way to fight that boredom and reduce some stress.
Playtime is an essential part of any dog’s day, and getting older doesn’t change that. You may need to adjust the intensity and duration, but entice your dog to play so they remain healthy with an engaged mind and active body.
Try a new toy your dog just loves? Have an old favorite? Tell us about it in the Comments!