Caring for an elderly dog may have challenges, but dogs provide us with so much joy and happiness it’s the least we can do for our best friends. Unfortunately, dogs’ lives are shorter than ours, so eventually, you will probably have to care for your dog once they reach seniorhood.
Maybe you have noticed their muzzle has turned gray. Perhaps there is more panting after a usual walk routine. When a dog becomes a senior depends on its breed. Small dogs such as Chihuahuas have longer lives and usually reach their golden years around 12 years old. Larger dogs such as Great Danes have shorter lives and attain senior status around five years old—breed, genetics, diet, and environment impact a dog’s life expectancy.
Researchers have also discovered dogs’ personalities change over time. But, just as science and modern medicine have extended our lives, it has also expanded our dogs’ lives. By incorporating some simple strategies into your dog’s routine, you can offer your dog the best golden age for them.
CARING FOR THE TEETH OF ELDERLY DOGS
Dental hygiene is essential in life, but it’s crucial once a dog reaches senior years. Regular brushing and professional cleaning can prevent painful dental disease and decay. It’s best to start a normal brushing routine when they are young. If your pet is older and doesn’t like their teeth brush, give them dental treats.
DIETS AND OLDER DOGS
Older dogs may experience more food issues such as lack of appetite, digestive issues, obesity, or problems chewing. Consult with your vet to find the proper diet for your dog. Some dietary changes may include increasing fiber to help digestion, decreasing carbs to aid weight loss, or supplements to alleviate joint pain.
CARING FOR ELDERLY DOGS WHILE PROVIDING EXERCISE
Just like people, dogs need mental and physical stimulation. Like people, the exercises they did as a young dogs probably will not be the same when they are in their golden years. Walks may get shorter, and your dog might pant more. Keep an eye on them and adjust your exercise routine as needed. Don’t forget to provide mental stimulation as well. Interactive toys such as food puzzles help to keep your dog sharp.
SENIOR PROOF YOUR HOUSE
You once puppy-proofed your house, and you may need to senior-proof your home now. Older dogs sometimes need unique accommodations. For dogs with hip or joint issues, you may consider installing a ramp or stairs so they can still join you in the car or the bed. Keep food and water in easily accessible areas, especially if they are vision impaired. Heated beds can soothe achy joints. Non-slip surfaces will provide traction and help prevent falls. Examine your house and find the areas you can modify to help ease your dog’s life.
VET CARE WITH ELDERLY DOGS
Yearly visits should become twice a year once a dog becomes a senior. Older pets may need additional blood tests, dental care, and exams. In addition, some breeds are prone to specific ailments such as cancer, arthritis, and hip dysplasia, so it’s best to catch them before they become an issue for your dog. Early detection can be a lifesaver.
Caring for an elderly dog can be challenging at times, but dogs bring so much love and joy into our lives. The least we can do is provide for them and care for them during their elder years. Please pay attention to them. Monitor changes such as behavior, diet, dental issues, lumps, bumps, or lesions. Take them to the vet regularly and if something changes in their routine, contact your vet.