It’s normal for dogs to become less energetic as they age, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t encourage your senior dog to stay active. The right toys can keep your senior dog occupied, helping to keep him or her physically and mentally fit. That will help him lead life to its fullest for as long as you have him. Running after the tennis ball and bringing it to you might not have the same thrill for him that it used to, but there are some toys made with seniors in mind that he is likely to find enjoyable.
One thing to keep in mind when selecting toys for older dogs is that they need to be softer than when he was younger.
1. Floppy Disc
If your dog has always enjoyed lunging and jumping after a Frisbee, one of the new, softer floppy discs will better suit the purpose now. It is easier on the dog’s teeth and gums and it can be used to toss instead of flying so it adapts to your dog’s changing abilities. The discs also come in different sizes to accommodate a variety of dog breeds.
2. Unstuffed Plush
Those long, unstuffed animals are great snuggly toys for older dogs and they don’t have stuffing to tear into and make a mess or swallow like stuffed animals do. Make sure you choose one with a squeaker to entertain your pet.
3. Treat Dispensing Toys
These toys are entertaining on their own as pets bounce them and send them in all different unpredictable directions. Once he smells the treat inside, the fun will grow as he tries to figure out how to get inside and retrieve it. Some have special treat paste that you put inside while others release kibble when the toy is placed in the right position. The toys come in different designs, but senior dogs often prefer those shaped like a traditional round ball that releases more of the treat with ease.
Just don’t overdo the treats and add too many extra calories to your aging dog’s diet.
Kong is one of the more popular brands of treat toys, especially for dogs who are serious chewers. The company also has a line of senior toys that are made from softer rubber that is specifically designed to be gentler on older dogs’ mouths and gums.
4. Talking Toys
These toys vary in design and most run on batteries. Not a good choice for dogs who like to tear into stuffed toys, but for others, the various sounds can provide entertainment for years.
5. Motion-Activated Balls
These balls roll around without any help from your dog and they make different noises to intrigue your pet. They offer the perfect opportunity for a good chase without having to leave the living room. There are also motion-activated balls that light up when they roll.
These are especially good for senior dogs that may not be able to see as well as they used to.
6. Squeaker Mats
These mat/toy combinations are made to look like different animals but they are flat like a mat so that your dog can rest his head on them. The fun element is that the mats are filled with squeakers so your dog doesn’t have to work very hard to find a squeaker and get a resulting noise. If your dog loves squeaker toys, he will get hours of entertainment from a squeaker mat.
7. Interactive Toys/Puzzles
There are several toys on the market that are made to challenge dogs and keep their minds active. Puzzles that they solve with their noses and toys that require them to put the right shape in the matching spaces are some examples of toys that will challenge your senior dog mentally more than physically.
One advantage that most senior dog owners have is that they have already had the chance to learn what types of toys their dogs enjoy playing with and which kinds might present a hazard to them. If your dog liked to eat the stuffing out of stuffed animals or retrieve the squeaker and swallow it when they were younger, these types of toys are probably still a hazard to them now that they are older. Either avoid giving them these types of toys now, or only allow them to have them when you are with them.
Nothing will be more important to your senior dog than spending time with you. Choose a combination of toys that you can enjoy with your pet and those that will keep him entertained and active when you aren’t home. Even a rubber ball tied inside a sock can help prevent boredom and keep your dog on the move so that he stays active and healthier than he would be if all he did was just lie around.