Everyone wants to know that their pets will live a long, happy, and healthy life. And if your fluffy baby is getting into their later years, you should always try and go the extra mile to make sure they’re comfortable. Just like humans in their old age, senior dogs too often struggle with their joints, digestion, teeth, memory, sight impairment, hearing loss and sleep cycles. Though you’ll always get those dogs that choose to completely ignore their age and barrel around like a 2 year old, even if they can’t hear you calling them back!
There are a few things you’ll want to consider incorporating into your daily routine when it comes to senior dogs care, and by following this advice you can give your beloved pet the golden years that they deserve.
How do I Know When my Dog is a Senior?
This is something that depends greatly on the breed of dog. Generally, an aging dog will be considered to be a senior by around 10-12 years of age. Though some larger breeds with more complex genetic problems such as a Great Dane or Saint Bernard breed dog can be expected to be of senior age by around 6-8 years old.
Though there are also often warning signs that your dog is getting older other than knowing their age. When a dog ages there are things to look out for like their muzzle starting to turn grey, the fact that they are finding it difficult to climb into bed, or that those long walks are starting to get a bit more tiring than they used to be. You will know your furry companion better than anyone, and so you’ll be able to recognize the signs of change.
Watch What They Eat
Bad diets can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and a range of other potential health problems or diseases. By watching your dog s diet, you can ensure that they are in good health and able to combat any other struggles they may have. A senior dog’s body weight being too high can also result in joint difficulties, which would have a knock-on effect on their ability to get regular exercise. Weight issues are extremely common in breeds. There are many senior dog food options available gears around providing your pet with the ideal nutrients they need to stay healthy and keep their immune system boosted.
What if My Dog Won’t Stop Gaining Weight?
L-carnitine is recommended to help your senior dog to metabolize their food quicker and aid weight loss. So if your pup seems to be struggling with weight gain, this may be perfect to help with their weight loss journey and to keep your dog s body fighting fit. However, it is always best to visit your veterinarian and get their professional opinion and advice before pursuing this option, just so that they may help you to rule out any other possible reasons. Find out more about dog food for weight loss here.
Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean
When it comes to a senior dog, their dental care is paramount. In order for an older dog to enjoy the things they’ve always loved, like toys and dog treats, you need to ensure that their teeth are taken care of. Tooth decay and gum diseases can be extremely uncomfortable, or even painful for older pets and have the potential to cause other health issues if infections were to spread, and so regular cleaning as your dog ages needs to be done to avoid these complications.
How Do I Go About Cleaning My Dog’s Teeth?
There are several options available to help you to keep your older dogs teeth healthy:
- Dog toothbrush and dog toothpaste
- Dog dental spray
- Dental toys
- Dental treats
- Professional cleaning
If you worry about the idea of using a toothbrush on your pet, you can always purchase a brush that slots on to the end of your finger which may help to make the experience less stressful for your canine pal. And when it comes to toothpaste, there are several store-bought dog toothpaste out there that can help you to achieve your goal, or you could even try making homemade dog toothpaste. If you find cleaning their teeth yourself to be too difficult, you can always use dental sprays, dental toys or even take your dog to the veterinarian to be professionally cleaned on a regular basis.
Look After Their Joints
How do I Keep my Older Dog Active?
Older dogs don’t require nearly as much exercise as they may have done when they were younger. All pets will drop in energy level as they grow older, and on top of that, they may find exercise significantly tougher on their old joints. The best way to make sure that they are still getting.
What’s Best for my Senior Dogs Joints?
It is always best to consult a professional before giving your pets any added extras with their food, and so before following the advice below, please be sure to visit your veterinarian for their professional opinion before proceeding, as they will be able to provide your pet with a physical analysis and can therefore advise what is best for their well being.
Studies with Omega-3 fatty acids have shown that it can help with fighting off inflammation in the joints, so this is something to consider. It can be found in certain dog foods, or even as capsules that you can give to your pet alongside their meal. There is also the option of glucosamine and chondroitin powders and fish oil, which can be added to their food, this can also help to combat that joint discomfort. For a wider selection of choices, check out our salmon oil for dogs and fish oils for dogs guides.
How Do I Help My Dog When it Comes to Their Painful Joints?
Well, as we’ve said before, weight is a very important factor when it comes to protecting your pet from joint pain. But along with keeping on top of their food intake, there are a few extra things you can do to help them to ease their discomfort. Check out our guide on the best dog joint supplements for more info.
- Doggy massage
- Painkillers (vet prescribed only)
- Ramps or pet steps (For more options, check out our detailed review of the best dog ramps.)
- Carpet / rugs. You may also like our article on the best rugs for dogs.
- A soft bed
Looking into learning doggy massage techniques can really help to alleviate any discomfort they may be feeling at the end of the day, along with a nice big soft bed to curl up on. A soft place to sleep could provide them with some much needed comfort! Also, something to remember is that as your pet gets older you must take care to make getting around easier for them, this would include getting a ramp or step for them to get into the car when heading out for the family car rides, and carpets and rugs in the more slippery area of the house to avoid them going off their feet.
Take a look at our guides on comfort dog beds and orthopedic dog beds.
What Other Problems Should I Look Out for?
It is also important to recognize if your dog has any special needs or care requirements for their joints, such as dogs that suffer with hip dysplasia. This is something that can become extremely severe with time and will require a lot of care, especially in a senior dog. Caring for older dogs with hip dysplasia means you must be sure to exercise a lot more patience with them, they won’t be able to move as easily or quickly and will likely need more help from yourself to get around. Be sure to keep your vet informed with any changes in their movement with something like this, as they may need further treatment.
Don’t Forget to Exercise Their Mind
When you are preparing for aging dog care, you have to remember that it is not just their physical side that needs watching, but you need to exercise their minds as well. This is something we should also do as humans! Puzzles of all kinds are a fantastic way to keep the mind active, and an active mind is a healthy mind. It can improve memory, response time, imagination, and a plethora of other cognitive functions.
What should I Do to Exercise my Dog’s Mind?
You’ll likely find that you’ve been giving your doggo puzzles for a large portion of their life, especially when they were puppies. The best thing to do is to purchase puzzle toys that will engage their problem solving abilities, or better yet, food puzzles are always a fantastic way to encourage engagement, especially when the dog is older and less inclined to play. Depending on the toy, this can also be a great way for them to get a little bit of exercise. Another thing you can also try and do is teach an old dog new tricks! They may not necessarily learn it perfectly, however, the engagement from yourself and the encouragement to get them to think what they need to do will keep their cogs turning.
Watch for Any Sudden Changes and Don’t Be Afraid to Seek Help
If you are unsure on how to care for an old dog, don’t feel like you need to hide it, there is always help available to provide advice at the drop of a hat. Your local vets would be more than happy to provide help if you need it, that’s what they’re there for, so trust them to be there when you need them.
Always keep an eye out for any sudden behavior changes such as:
- Stopping eating or drinking
- Becoming aggressive towards family or other dogs
- Being lethargic – excessive sleeping and refusal to engage
- Seeming confused – appears lost, unable to come when called, pacing.
- Soiling the house or general accidents of a similar vein
It’s important to acknowledge these behavioral changes and raise them with your vet as soon as possible, as it is best to have your dog checked over if this is the case.
Get Them Checked Over Regularly With Your Vet
Caring for a senior dog means committing to geriatric dog care, this will include everything listed above, and ensuring the vet stays informed of their progress. You should always have your older pets checked over regularly to ensure that no complications have arisen, this would usually entail a simple physical, but can also be a life saver.
Happy Dog, Happy Life
When your little puppy morphs into an older dog it can feel very unnerving, but so long as you do your research and are prepared to keep them comfortable they will be sure to enjoy their advanced years just as much as they did their early. Your furry friend can feel how much you love them every day, so don’t stress, just keep them comfortable, engaged, and cared for, and they will love you right back.