Aging is a normal part of life, and at some point all canines become seniors. The important thing to know is that senior dogs have different care requirements than their younger counterparts.
Let’s find out how to give your dog his best golden years.
What to Expect with an Older Dog
According to Dr. Hanie Elfenbein, every dog ages differently, especially dogs of different size and breeds. For instance, larger breeds like Great Danes tend to age quicker.
As your furry friend enters his senior years, you should be prepared for certain changes that might occur in his health.
- Age-related diseases begin to develop
There are numerous degenerative diseases that are more likely to affect senior dogs, including joint disorders and cognitive dysfunction syndrome. Cancer and liver failure are fairly common in senior dogs as well.
However, not all changes are related to disease. For instance, you may notice fatty lumps underneath your pet’s skin. Known as lipomas, those fatty lumps are caused by the metabolic system using less energy. Although lipomas are harmless, dog owners should still get their dogs for a veterinary check, as lipomas could also be caused by cancer.
- Dental issues
Tooth decay and infected gums are common health problems for senior dogs. Bad breath, swollen gums, plaque and a loss of appetite are common signs. Unlike age-related health problems, most dental issues can be diagnosed by your veterinarian. Fixing dental issues can improve your furry friend’s happiness, allowing him to eat more comfortably and prevent infection, so it’s definitely worth considering.
It's highly recommended to give your senior dental chews or chew toys to help with dental care. If you're just looking for a few quick recommendations for dog dental chews, take note of the picks below:
- Happi Doggy Dental Chew Care Skin & Coat Support Dog Treat 150g
- C.E.T Veggie Chews 15's For Pet 240g
- JW Pet Chompion Lightweight Dog Toy
- JW Pet Cyber Bone
- Behavioural changes
Senior dogs may be less enthusiastic about greeting their human companions, or more cautious about exploring when on walks. Senior dogs also tend to sleep more. They require longer periods of uninterrupted rest, so try to avoid disturbing your senior pooch when he is sleeping during the day.
Arthritis in senior dogs is a very common problem. If your senior pooch has arthritis, the first thing you will notice is that he finds movement difficult. He is reluctant to walk, run and jump. He may also flinch or yelp when touched in the affected area.
- Loss of senses
A dog’s sense of eyesight, hearing and smell all begin to degrade as he gets older. If the underlying cause isn’t treated, some dogs may eventually become deaf or blind.
- Weight loss or gain
Senior dogs gain or loss weight as they age. To prevent obesity in senior dogs, reduce food amount as your dog slows down. Senior dog foods often contain fewer calories, which makes it easier to manage your senior dog’s weight gain. Whichever food you use, always weigh each portion so you know exactly how much your pet is eating. Also, make sure to keep up with exercise.
Healthcare Tips for Your Senior Dog
- Make sure your furry friend has regular visits with your veterinarian
Your older dog should be examined twice a year. A thorough physical examination by your veterinarian may reveal health issues that can impact your senior dog’s life and comfort level, including arthritis, dental disease, kidney disease, heart disease and kidney disease.
- Watch for Any Behaviour Changes in Your Senior Dog
Your dog’s behaviour changes may be a symptom of disease. Watch your senior dog’s behaviour carefully, especially changes in his appetite, water consumption, urinary and bowel habits. If he suddenly becomes irritable for no reason, it may be because he is in pain, having a hard time hearing properly, or having difficulty seeing. Consult your veterinarian immediately if there is any change in your dog's behaviour.
- Make your home more comfortable for your senior dog
Senior dogs often suffer from stiffness and joint pain. Consider pet steps or ramps as they can provide your senior dog with a painless method of getting into your car, onto furniture, or up and down stairs in your home. Also, carpeting on slippery floors may help your senior dog gain his footing.
- Choose an age-appropriate diet
Dietary requirements may change as your dog becomes older. For instance, some older pets tend to gain weight and may need a diet for less active dogs. Consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your senior dog based on his individual nutritional requirements.