Dogs are a part of our family and, as they age, they deserve to have a comfortable and enjoyable senior life. Too often the needs of our senior dogs are overlooked or neglected. Do you have a senior dog and wanting to know more about how to care for old dogs?
Some owners may have difficulty in determining when a dog can be considered “senior” but one needs to remember that large breeds age faster than small and medium breed dogs. For instance, a 10 year old Chihuahua may be equivalent in age to a 6 year old Great Dane. But in general, a dog’s senior years can begin anywhere between 6 and 14 years old. Try this helpful Dog's Age Calculator to find the age of your dog.
Some of the telltale signs that you’re dealing with a senior dog are:
- Increase or decrease of appetite
- Lack of sociability with both humans and other dogs
- Sensitivity to certain foods
- Less playful or energetic than before
- Sensitivity to extreme temperature
Our friends over at a A Dogs Best Blog have put together some important information on how to care for old dogs:
As your dog ages its nutritional requirements changes and you should give it a properly balanced dog chow especially designed for senior dogs. They are many to choose from but I made a list of my top 3 dog foods for older dogs to help make your choices a bit easier. Over-feeding is also a huge problem as it leads to obesity, which in turn can lead to diabetes and many other health conditions.
Just because you senior dog has become a bit lazy, it does not mean that he does not need to exercise. In fact, it means that he needs it more now than ever. Exercise helps to prevent obesity and maintain muscle strength. More muscle also means more support for the joints. Remember that you should not push your senior dog too hard since he won’t be able to run as fast or walk as long as when he was younger.
Dealing with the Heat/Snow
Older dogs become more sensitive to extreme temperatures. You want to make sure they have a proper dog house to escape the extreme weather. If not, it may be better to install a doggie door so your dog can have access to the ideal temperatures in your home. Exercise your dog on mornings or afternoons when the sun is not as its peak. Make sure to buy a good snow jacket for your senior dog in the winter.
Regular Check Ups
All dogs, no matter the age, should have their regular or annual vet checkup along with all of their shots. This is even more important for senior dogs as their immune system is not as strong as it used to be. If you normally take your dog to the vet annually then you should take your senior dog for bi-annual visits.
Joint Pain and Arthritis
Make sure your dog has a comfortable bed to lay on. A younger dog may be happy on the floor or carpet but your senior dog will need something more comfortable. If your dog sleeps in a bed, get a step to make it easier for it to climb into it. Supplements may help your older dog with arthritis, be more comfortable.
Dog dental care is often overlooked; this is why many senior dogs lose some of their teeth. To avoid this, use treats and chews which naturally clean your dog’s teeth. As well as annual dog dental cleaning.
Love and Attention
Remember, just because our furry friends are now in their senior years, it does not mean that they are no longer dogs. They still like to play, get doggie treats and just have fun. They just require a little extra attention and preparation now.
Senior dogs can be a lot more cuddly and calm. My crazy terrier is now 13 and love to sit by my side and rest after his morning walk. He sleeps a lot and we have short walks and plays to keep him strong and healthy.
For everyone that knows terriers, they are unstoppable. Here is Tiger on our recent beach holiday after the morning running and playing. He is now happy to sit back and have a little rest. I am really enjoying having a senior dog in the house and am happy to make his life more comfortable and happy in his old age.
Now for a little inspiration on care for old dogs, below is a story about some inspirational ladies running House with a Heart Senior Pet Sanctuary . The sanctuary is for senior dogs who no longer have a home for a variety of reasons. These ladies ensure that senior dogs are loved and cared for until their last moment with us.