Caring for your elderly dog
It’s hard to come to terms with fact we all get older. Just like humans, our dogs get older too and, as they age, they will require different and specific care. Most dogs will live to between ten and fifteen years of age but, when it comes to the showing signs of aging, you may notice vast differences depending on the breed.
Smaller dogs generally remain sprightly and active well into their golden years while larger breeds will usually begin to slow down from a younger age. You may also notice that your dog is greying, just like humans. This will usually occur around the muzzle, but is more common in some breeds than others.
Other signs of an aging dog include a reduced appetite and increased sleeping. As your dog becomes less active, they’ll require less energy and eat less. With less energy and enthusiasm for exercise and play, they’ll often fill in the days with more rest.
Just like us, as your dog ages their chance of developing a number of diseases and illnesses dramatically increases. Common conditions include arthritis, liver disease, thyroid disease and cancer. The trick to fighting these conditions is knowledge; try to be aware of the symptoms so that—if your dog does develop a condition—you’ll be well prepared to identify it early.
We’ve put together a few tips for taking care of your elderly dog. They’ve been a part of the family for many years now and they deserve the best care we can give them.
Don’t give up on exercise, not till you have to. Your elderly dog requires exercise just like younger dogs. The difference is that they simply won’t be able to handle the same amount or as often.
You may notice your dog isn’t eating as much as they used to, or moving as much, and they may be sleeping much more. While aging and a reduced ability to be active is inevitable, these habits can be partially broken by maintaining a good exercise regime.
Take your elderly dog for shorter walks; try to wake them if they’re sleeping too long. Remember, the onset of obesity will likely cause serious health problems for your dog. They’ll live much longer into their old age if you keep them as fit and healthy as possible.
Longevity is all about diet. We’ve seen it a thousand times before: as dogs get older they tend to be spoilt more. This is a bad habit to get into and can lead to serious health problems for your dog.
A strict and highly nutritional diet will be the best thing for the health of your elderly pooch. Remember, even though you may be exercising them regularly, older dogs have a slowed metabolism and won’t require the same intake of food they once did.
If you notice that they’re eating less, feed them less. If you’re unsure about the quantity of food or best diet for your elderly dog, simply contact your vet for more information.
Book regular visits with the vet. The onset of liver disease, heart disease, thyroid disease and cancer are far more likely as your dog ages. Healthy dogs should have a check-up at the vet at least once a year and twice a year if they’re over the age of six or seven.
Be aware of the symptoms that are associated with these common conditions. If you know the signs to look out for, you’ll be one step ahead at all times. Regular vet check-ups are essential to preventing your dog from developing serious conditions as they age as some diseases are difficult to identify from physical symptoms alone.
Keep those teeth clean to avoid disease. There are a number of reasons why the health of your dog’s mouth should be maintained. Gum disease and other conditions can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort for your elderly dog and this can lead to more serious health problems.
There are a number of dental doggy treats out there on the market that promote good oral health. It may seem strange, but brushing your dog’s teeth occasionally to help remove plaque and other harmful build-ups is actually a good idea and should be encouraged.
Old dogs love new tricks – but especially new toys. Your elderly dog may appear much less active or enthusiastic these days but it doesn’t mean that their lust for life has gone.
Many older dogs will lie about the house all day because their owners have given up on stimulating them with toys and games. Food puzzles are great ways to keep your dog’s inquisitive nature alive; these also promote advanced mental stimulation and weight loss.
Try taking your elderly dog for a walk in new and interesting locations. This will keep them interested in the world around them filled with new smells, sights and sounds.
Remember, variety is the spice of life.
Keep your elderly dog comfortable in their old age. Older dogs, just like aging humans will develop sore bones and muscles. Arthritis for example is common in elderly dogs and can cause quite a bit of discomfort in the latter stages of their lives.
Do your best to keep your dog’s comfort in mind. Provide them with more bedding with soft cushions and a blanket or two. Make sure their sleeping area is in a calm and quiet location, free of anything that could disturb them when they’re trying to rest.
If you live in a house with a number of pets, it may be an idea to limit contact between the older dog and the others. Even if they are used to one another’s company at every moment of the day, every older dog needs some time to themselves.
We hope these small tips will help you to provide a comfortable and caring environment for your elderly dog. If you remember to keep them comfortable, on a strict diet, stimulated and exercised regularly, your elderly dog should remain happy and healthy, living to a ripe old age.