Aging and growing old is a normal part of life and just like humans, our lovable pooches too will enter their senior ages, where their energy levels and body development are not as able as in their younger years. For pet owners, it is important to know and understand that senior dogs require different care methods than active puppies and energetic adolescents. If you have one that is approaching his senior years, here are some helpful tips on how to care for senior dogs.
What happens during aging?
As your dog ages, you’ll notice he’ll have less energy, might develop cataracts or hearing issues, and worse, organ failures. This means that older dogs are at high risk of getting kidney or liver disease, diabetes, as well as obesity.
Depending on the breed, the age to call your dog senior varies. Small dogs are considered old when they reach 10 or 11 years old, while medium-sized breeds, such as the Golden Retriever, are called seniors when they are 8 to 10 years old. Big dog breeds at the age of 5 to 6 are already considered senior.
However, genetics, lifestyle, and care play a huge part in your dog’s health and the aging process. A big breed dog, like the Great Dane, can still be healthy and active at age 6 with proper care, food, exercise, and no signs of getting old.
Tips on How to Care for Senior Dogs
Older dogs require different care than adolescent dogs and puppies and this is a concern that every dog owner should know. Eventually, cute puppies will grow old and that doesn’t mean they are disposable or will be given less care. Some changes need to be done to keep them healthy.
Here are some important tips on how to care for senior dogs.
What your dog eats plays a huge part in its health, especially as they grow older and this is why a balanced diet is important. Senior dogs are more prone to developing obesity since they no longer have the same energy as when they were young. They run and exercise less so you must feed them senior dog food that is designed to prevent or lessen weight gain.
These kinds of senior dog food are low in fat and contain fewer calories, but at the same time, still contain the essential nutrients that your dog needs.
Regular exercise helps your senior dog maintain its appropriate weight. However, it is important to consult your veterinarian before having your old dog go through exercise programs. This is so you’d know the limitations.
Since your dog is now older, they will no longer have the same energy and stamina when they were younger. This means slower walks, fewer runs, and less playtime. But it is important to be patient and with the right amount of activity, slowly have them exercise through regular walks and light jogs.
Since senior dogs are more prone to diseases and illnesses, always schedule a regular checkup. As recommended by vets, twice a year is a good start. Regular clinic visits will also give your vets a chance to examine or predict early signs of diseases and illnesses before they turn for the worse and provide the best treatment.
It is ideal to have your dog go through blood work to determine the condition of his white and red blood cells. As well as kidney and liver function. This is an easy way to detect and prevent developing diseases.
Invest in age-appropriate dog supplies
That bed or leash they had when they were adolescents might no longer be comfortable or appropriate once they’ve entered their senior years.
There are age-specific dog beds in the market and a good number of them are appropriate for senior dogs, especially for those who might be suffering from painful joints or weakening bones. An orthopedic dog bed or a comfortable heated bed can greatly help dogs who might have arthritis. It results in pain-free and restful sleep, as well as improves mobility and reduces pain.
A heated dog bed is beneficial for senior dogs who are experiencing stiffness and joint issues. It consists of a heater that warms your dog’s natural body temperature and will provide relief to age-related aches.
For senior dogs with mobility problems, you might want to consider changing their leash to a support sling or a harness that is designed to help dogs who are having problems getting up on their feet. Some harnesses are designed to have a handle at the back that you can hold on to easily assist your dog in walking, climbing the stairs, or getting into the car.
Make small changes at home
Similar to the changes you’d make when you have a baby at home, small adjustments to its environment already have a big impact on your senior dogs.
Examples are putting more carpets around the house to avoid your senior dogs slipping on hardwood or tile floors, investing in good dog ramps to help them get into cars, up and down the stairs, or onto furniture, or an elevated dog bowl for extra comfort while they eat or drink their water.