How To Take Care Of Senior Dogs

How To Take Care Of Senior Dogs

How To Take Care Of Senior Dogs

We all know dogs are the best thing in the world, but nothing is ever perfect is it? You know what’s the one bad thing about dogs? They don’t live all that long compared to us.

Like it or not (and we DON’T), dogs grow old, just like us, and they age fast. Depending on your dog’s size and breed, a senior dog can be defined as anything between 6 years and 10 years.

A lot of effort needs to go into caring for your senior dog. As they age, there's a need to be a little more gentle, and it can be a lot of work figuring out what they need because of their age.

With some tweaks to your lifestyle and some extra-special-TLC, senior dogs can live several happy, healthy years more and continue to be a vital part of your life. In this blog post, we’ll look at the common issues faced by senior dogs and how you, as their parent, can help your beloved pooch enjoy their golden years.

Common Health Problems Of Senior Dogs

Of course, these problems can arise at any time during your dog’s life, but certain things manifest themselves more prominently as your dog gets older.

Weak Joints

Weak joints affect the strength and function of your senior dog, sometimes impacting their ability to walk and rise effortlessly like before. In particular, watch out for their hind legs which often take the majority of the stress and weight.

A prominent cause of weaker joints is osteoarthritis, a result of the breakdown of cartilage in the joints. This condition frequently presents itself in hips and knees and affects large breeds more than small ones.

Weak joints have symptoms like a sluggish walk, strange gait, difficulty climbing the stairs, stiffness, and limping.

You can help keep joint problems at bay by feeding your dog a high-quality diet for senior dogs, supplementing with joint-friendly products like glucosamine and chondroitin, and keeping up with a low-impact exercise regime.

If the condition gets too severe, you might need pain medication or surgery for extreme cases. Speak to your veterinarian if you’re in doubt.

Vision and Hearing Loss

As your dog ages, you should expect to see their hearing and vision become progressively worse. Just as in humans, where various organs don’t work as effectively as they used to as they age.

Usually, most dogs will experience some kind of vision impairment, and some develop cataracts as seniors due to tissue degeneration in both eyes and ears.

As your dog ages, it will rely more on its formidable sense of smell as it adjusts to the loss of its vision and hearing.

Loss of Cognitive Function

In senior dogs, due to loss of cognitive function, you should expect disorientation, whining or barking, and your dog getting lost in familiar places.

While you may help manage these with medication and diet, there may be no way to reverse this as it is just one of the indications of age.

A Greater Susceptibility to Medical Issues

Since their immune system isn’t as sharp as it used to be, senior dogs usually are prone to various medical issues. You can think about adding some supplements to their diet to give their immune systems a little boost.

Older dogs might have a weaker immune system and are more susceptible to certain diseases from flu and gastrointestinal problems to heart disease and cancer.

Weight Gain

As your dog’s metabolism slows, he or she will be prone to weight gain, especially if their exercise levels go down. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight, as now more than ever, it is important to stay lean to avoid undue pressure on the joints.

What Do Senior Dogs Need?

Age-Appropriate Diet

Senior dogs have different nutritional needs than adult dogs as they typically have lower activity levels and need less protein and calories.

Your dog food should be something meant specifically for doggy seniors, and you can think about adding some joint-friendly supplements to help keep bone-related conditions at bay.

Regular Exercise

You may need to visit your vet first to accommodate the changes in your dog's mobility in its exercises, particularly if your dog has arthritis, but don’t stop exercising!

Low-impact exercise is essential for your senior dog to stay mobile. Swimming is an excellent cardiovascular workout and does wonders for joint mobility, so head to the beach!

Be careful to not push your dog to its limits. Instead, you should find familiar gentle exercises and go at your dog's pace.

Regular Vet Checkups

Considering your dog’s age, there’s a high probability that a new health condition may creep up on you. Don’t wait till symptoms show, as prevention is always better than cure! Vets are professionals that can see things that an untrained eye might miss, so don’t skip your yearly checks.

In addition, at a geriatric screening, your dog undergoes blood work, parasite and heartworm testing, genetic predisposition tests, urinalysis, and tick-borne diseases testing.

These tests will give an insight into what’s going on with your dog, and likely things to look out for.

Also, make sure to keep up with your dog’s vaccination schedule. Vaccinations play a key role in keeping away severe, often fatal diseases like distemper and parvo. While a young, healthy dog might be able to survive these terrible diseases, senior dogs will be at a significant disadvantage.

Maintain Oral Health

More than 80% of dogs aged 3 and above have some form of periodontal disease that is caused by the buildup of plaque and tartar.

Without proper oral care, your senior dog is at risk of dental conditions like severe periodontal disease and gingivitis. These may affect your dog’s feeding and cause bad breath, bloody gums, and tooth loss.

Make sure to keep brushing your dog’s teeth with a meat-flavored toothpaste and a doggy toothbrush, and give plenty of dental bones and senior-friendly chews sticks.

Final Thoughts

Aging is part of life, and as much as we detest it, it happens to our dogs too. Boo.

But when some attentive TLC, we can help our seniors enjoy the rest of their precious time with us.

An age-appropriate diet, lots of exercise, regular visits to a vet, vaccination, and catering to their aching joints are great ways to take care of senior dogs and ensure that they are still happily driving us crazy with their antics well into their senior years!


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