Smooth and Easy When Hunting with Senior Dogs

The toughest aspect of dog ownership is that all young dogs grow old.  However, old age does not mean that your dog’s hunting days are over.  As long as he or she is willing, there is no reason to keep your senior dog from the field.  However, care should be taken to physically prepare your dog, with a few modifications from years past.


A dog that remains active will live the longest and healthiest life.  Even after your dog reaches his or her golden years, continue to exercise your pet in whatever capacity he or she can handle.  It is important to be vigilant about the level of exercise that is comfortable for your dog, and not to push your pet beyond this point.  Your dog’s ability level may be drastically different from even a year ago.  Allow your dog to call the shots in terms of exercise, and call it a day at the first signs of exhaustion.  


Keeping your senior dog at a healthy weight is crucial.  Older dogs are more susceptible to illness and injury, both of which are more likely to occur if your dog is carrying a few extra pounds.  As a dog ages, his or her metabolism slows down, so it is important to adjust portion sizes accordingly.  Examine your dog’s body condition and look for a noticeable waist and tucked up belly.  


Nearly every senior sport dog will develop arthritis to some degree.  If your dog is struggling to get around, visit a veterinarian and talk about options for managing your dog’s pain.  There are many arthritis drugs on the market that can significantly improve your dog’s quality of life without busting your budget.  


When your dog is ready, take him or her for a hunt.  Treat your dog the same way that you did as a puppy, and limit the time spent in the field.  Be cognizant of your dog’s needs and restrictions.  Many senior dogs may only be able to spend an hour or two hunting per trip.  Make sure you stick to your plan and put your dog up when he or she shows signs of growing tired.  Recovery is most important, and most senior dogs will require 2 – 3 days before they can handle another outing.  

Even though your dog might not be as quick or agile as in years past, there is no doubt your dog still has an intense love of hunting and spending time with you.  Don’t shy from taking your dog out on hunts, but be realistic about his or her abilities.  Ultimately, the time spent together can never be replaced, so as long as your dog is willing, do not miss the opportunity to make the most of your dog’s golden years.