Senior Dogs: Proper Care and What to Expect
Whilst lots of families usually receive their dogs as puppies, there are many perks to having a senior dog. They are generally gentle, wise and content and may even rock an adorable looking gray muzzle too.
As you age with them, you can enjoy leisurely walks together rather than energetic runs and share similar temperaments that you’ve both well established over the years. Whether you are both stubborn souls or gentle pushovers, one thing is for sure and that’s that you’ve both got a whole lot of love to give.
You may be wondering, at what age is my dog actually classed as a senior dog? Like humans, there is no real age to put on it. After all, you’re only as old as you feel – right?
There’s a difference in each dog. Large breeds such as a Great Dane may be classed as senior earlier on (between 6-8 years) whilst smaller breeds such as a Chihuahua is generally a little later, (10-11 years).
This is all entirely dependent on how quickly their health, bodies and personalities age.
So what could your dog be experiencing as they age?
Unfortunately, senior dogs (much like you and I), are more susceptible to health issues.
This can include general degenerative diseases like arthritis, dental care, decrease in control of their bladder, lumps that change in size or shape, etc.
There are several signs to look out for in your senior dog such as slowing down, unwillingness to exercise or eat, excessive sleeping and unusual behaviours. Whilst these can be deemed normal in a senior dog, they may also be common alerts that something is wrong.
Check here for a list of red flags that you should be extra careful to look out for:
- Change in your dog’s weight
- Change in your dog’s appetite
- Change in your dog’s water intake
- Incontinence or increased urination
- Bad breath
- Difficulty chewing
- Lumps changing in size or shape on your dog’s body
- Slowing down
Of course, your main concern should be any medical issues. After all, this is may be something that is out of your control and needs medical attention. If this is the case, you would need to contact your vet straight away.
It isn’t uncommon for your dog to become very set in their ways – some may call it stubbornness!
Their sensitivity to the weather may increase and their sight or hearing abilities may decrease. This means that they may rely on you more than usual as a sense of security, maybe even resulting in a form of separation anxiety.
Their ability to deal with change also decreases and they learn to feel secure with their daily routines – this is why it is important to keep doing what you normally would with them. If you need to make changes to any major part of their day or normal daily routine, slowly introduce this change so to not confuse your dog. The chances are, they may not even notice the change this way.
Senior Dog Tips - What exactly can you do to help?
The most important thing for you to do in order to help your senior dog is to love them the same as you always have. Don’t make a fuss and give them more attention than they are used to – this could make them more dependent on you than they need to be. Don’t show them any less attention as you may confuse them and they may develop a form of depression or separation anxiety.
If your dog is exercising less, control their daily food intake. An overweight senior dog is a recipe for more medical issues to come your way! Ensure that they are consuming the right nutrients and calories that they need to keep their weight managed correctly.
Less exercise for your dog means they are probably going to get bored quicker too! Provide them with some entertainment. There are many toys that dogs love to play with (that aren’t the neighbour’s slippers believe it or not). Try a few out that aid weight loss or movement if needed, this ensures your dog is still getting in some much needed and loved play time!
Keep your pup hydrated, no matter what the weather looks like. If they are reluctant to consume their usual water intake, this may be an indicator that something else is wrong so be sure to check it out.
Be aware of how your dog acts in weather changes. Over sensitivity to the weather means wrap them up when it is cold and don’t let them overheat when it is hot.
Exercise! So your dog may not be up for a huge run in the park but a walk together around a few blocks is definitely still a go. Keeping your dog as active as they can be will promote their overall health as well as reduce effects of diseases such as arthritis.
Keep up your trips to the grooming salon. Who doesn’t like to be pampered? Regular trips to the salon will keep your dog’s skin and fur protected. Your groomers can also check for any irregularities on your dog’s body – it’s always good to double check!
Visit your vet regularly. It is recommended that you take your senior dog to be checked out at least twice a year, (every 6 months). They can perform body condition evaluations and be sure to catch any problems out as early as possible.
No one wants to think about losing their best friend but by knowing how you can help or even prevent some of these issues, you may just get to spend a little longer together.
If you need any more information or advice on senior dog health or senior dog health care, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’re easily contacted on Facebook (Petz Park). Here we can be of assistance almost instantly and do our best to help your furry friend.