Aging is something that we are all facing, including our beloved furry kids.
A senior dog is going to have a different set of needs than the same dog when it was a puppy or an adult dog.
Older dogs tend to be less mobile and may have problems with their sight and hearing. These pets also may be more prone to certain diseases. But that doesn’t mean that your older pet can’t have a fantastic life. It means you need to be a part of helping to keep them comfortable, healthy, and happy as they grow older.
What to Expect When Your Dog Is Aging
Dogs who are older have an increased chance of getting diabetes, kidney disease, or liver diseases. They also have a higher chance of becoming obese. You may notice that your pet develops hearing issues or cataracts and the dog is likely to have less energy than when they were younger. However, every dog is different, and some dogs are considered to be seniors before others. This largely depends on the breed of your dog and their individual traits. Giant breeds may be considered senior at age five, while medium dogs will be considered senior at around age eight. The smallest of dogs may not be considered seniors until they are ten years old or more.
However, it’s important to remember that the lifestyle and genetics of your pet also have a huge impact on how they will age. So, even if you have a larger dog who would normally be considered senior at five years old, they might be completely healthy and show no real signs of aging.
Taking Care of Your Senior Dog
Caring for a senior dog is much different than caring for a puppy or adult dog. If you are looking to keep your pet around for as long as possible, you may need to make some changes to keep them in perfect health. The tips below will help you understand their unique needs and how to meet them.
Providing an Age Appropriate Diet & supplements
Having your dog eat a balanced diet is a huge part in maintaining their health as they get older. A senior dog is more likely to experience obesity because older dogs do not have the same levels of energy that they used to. This is why feeding food designed for senior dogs is so important. A food with less fat and fewer calories will often be the right choice. In addition, if your pet has health conditions, your vet may be able to recommend the best food for controlling it.
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Visit the Veterinarian on a Regular Basis
As a dog ages, it becomes crucial that you take them in for regular care from a veterinarian. When your dog is older, their immune system begins to wean so they can be more likely to suffer from various ailments than when they were young. You’ll find that most vets recommend a senior dog come in for a checkup at least once every six months. This allows the vet to determine if anything is wrong early, and if there is, provides the best chance of offering appropriate treatment options early on.
Provide Regular Exercise Times
With the potential for obesity being higher for senior pets, providing regular exercise for your pet dog can positively impact their health and their weight. If you aren’t sure about the specifics of the exercise program you should use, speak with your vet. They will consider the limitations and health of your pet and explain a program that will work well. You should start off slow and build the stamina of your dog with walking or light jogging. However, older dogs have less energy and may not run around the way they used to.
We have a senior dog in our house right now, our beloved 12 year old papillon, Jericho. It is SO important for us to get him out and keep him moving, even though he's a small dog. A simple walk around the neighborhood is really good for him ... and, for me!
— Holly Allen, co-founder Dee-O-Gee
Ensure Your Dog Is Groomed Regularly
When dogs get older, their skin and coat also ages. A coat that used to be extremely shiny and healthy may begin to look more brittle or dull than before. In addition, older dogs may experience irritated, flaky, or dry skin if it is not cared for in the appropriate way. This is why it is essential to brush your dog’s fur on a regular basis, which can also prevent tangles and mats. Natural shampoos are also a great option for bath time, which can help heal irritated skin.
Parasite Protection and Vaccinations
Just like a puppy or an adult dog, you must ensure your older dog is protected from worms, ticks, and fleas. However, you can continue to use the routine you have been using throughout their adult life. Vaccines are a bit trickier since senior dogs do not need them at the same frequency as younger dogs would. Instead, you can likely get them done about once every three years. However, you should speak with your vet to be sure.
Consider Your Dog’s Oral Health
The sad truth is that many dogs don’t receive the proper oral care they need while adults, which means that seeing a senior dog who is missing a tooth or two is fairly common. Dental care is an extremely important part of grooming and should be a regular occurrence for puppies all the way to senior dogs. The best option for your senior dog is to brush their teeth every single day. However, if that isn’t possible, you should at least implement some dental treats. You also need to visit the vet once a year to get their teeth cleaned professionally.
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Every dog is different and will have specific needs based on their lifestyle, health, and more. However, every dog gets older and goes through a similar process to other dogs. As an owner, it’s important to be aware of and prepared for that. Every dog who is senior will have less energy and may have more trouble walking or experience hearing or sight loss. While this can all sound scary, it takes time and both you and your pet can adapt. These tips above will ensure your pet is happy, healthy, and comfortable as they move into senior life.
Wendy can’t even remember a time when she wasn’t writing and editing in some capacity. She loves puppies, coffee and Netflix, and hates frozen pizza, cell phones, and cilantro. You can find her work over at www.simplyfordogs.com