- CRITTER TALK
By Lavanya Sunkara
Playtime is essential for your senior dog. Not only does he enjoy fun and games, he needs them to keep mentally and physically fit. An active dog is a happy dog. If your pup loved catching Frisbees or playing with dog chew toys as a youngster, he still finds it enjoyable in his later years so long as he has the right toys. Try out the following 10 toys and games which are specifically designed to cater to your elderly canine’s needs.
Playing Frisbee is a lot of fun for dogs. It could also be hard on your elderly dog’s arthritic joints and weak teeth and gums. Any toys thrown to dogs to catch should not be hard or heavy as they can cause damage to front teeth. Booda Tail-Spin Flyer Frisbee is flexible, lightweight and is designed to avoid injury. Jumping and running involved in playing Frisbee and fetch can be too strenuous for your dog. Make sure to monitor his behavior during play. If he is showing signs of fatigue, take frequent breaks.
Plush toys with no stuffing make good snuggly companions for your furry friends. SPOT Skinneeez Stuffing Free Plush Skunk Dog Toy can be used as a retriever or for gentle tug play. The toy, which has realistic features, brings out your dog’s natural hunting instinct. It comes with two squeakers inside, one in the head and another in the tail, so older dogs with diminished hearing can enjoy the sounds.
Just because your dog is old doesn’t mean he wants to snooze on the couch all day. KONG toys help reestablish play and exercise in your senior pet and make him feel like a puppy again. These toys are made with gentle rubber formula, which doesn’t get sharp when chewed and is easy on their teeth and jaw muscles. Stuff the Kong Rubber Dog Chew Toy with treats to keep your dog busy for prolonged periods. Kong toys are mentally and physically stimulating puzzles that help prevent boredom, separation anxiety and other behavioral issues in your pet.
Dogs love soft pillows to play with and rest their heads on. Eco Owl Buddy from Honest Pet Products is made from 100% natural materials, and not just recycled plastics or synthetics. When you purchase an Honest Pet Products toy, you are helping enrich the lives of those who make the toys such as the hardworking people with cognitive and developmental disabilities that make wool dog toys in Green Bay, WI. Now, that’s a win-win for both the dog and the people making them.
If your senior dog loves to fetch but has trouble because of poor eyesight, get him the Bird Ball. When thrown, the Bird Bell, true to its name, whistles like a bird. There are 12 wind-powered whistles that chirp when the ball is thrown, which the dog can follow as it flies away. The ball is made of durable, flexible non-toxic materials. Purchasing this toy benefits the United Dogs of America Foundation.
Keep your elderly dog occupied while you are away by hiding treats for him around the house (as long as it doesn’t involve climbing stairs). The healthier and softer the treat, the better it is for your senior dog. Dogswell Veggie Life Happy Hips Chicken and fruit are 100% all natural treats containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin and Vitamin E supplement that help promote healthy hips and joints.
If your dog is young at heart and likes chasing balls, get him the Soft Indoor ball, which is easier on his teeth and wouldn’t break lamps or mess up your walls or hurt his teeth. The Chuckit! Soft Indoor Ball has no squeaker, so you can let your dog play with the ball as much as he prefers.
While regular dental checkups for your senior dog are important, bones are more definitely more fun for them. Hard bones and hooves are responsible for many broken teeth. To go easy on your older pet’s teeth and jaws, give him the Zogoflex Dog Toy from West Paw Design. Made from extremely pliable Zogoflex material in the USA, the Hurley is 100% recyclable and buoyant. It comes in three sizes – mini, small and large- and bright colors.
For the elder droolers, Old Soul Slobber-Wick Squeak Buddyfrom Planet Dog provides an exciting way to spend time. These durable toys come in hi-def contrasting colors of sliver and blue, making it easier on an older dog’s eyes. Each toy is filled with 100% poly-fleece and a double-bellow squeaker for the comfort and amusement of your canine. These are fast-drying and easy to clean.
All those years under his belt makes your dog a very smart one. Providing mental stimulation for your senior dog is key to keeping him entertained in his later years. Puzzles and interactive toys that store treats inside are ideal for dogs that cannot do more strenuous exercise. The SPOT Seek-A-Treat Shuffle Bone Dog IQ Puzzle is a bone shaped puzzle made of press board wood, with holes for treats big enough for the dog to get the treats out, making it an enjoyable experience.