We know you love your dog, that’s a given, but the way you love them has to evolve as they get older. Those food scraps you pass under the table or the long hike you go on may no longer be the best signs of affection for your senior dog as they are at higher risk of diabetes, kidney disease, and arthritis.
The age at which your dog becomes a senior differs depending on their breed. So, keep an eye out for changes in behavior, energy, and appetite. Below are a few ways to care for your fur baby once they are confirmed a part of the senior club:
When caring for your aging dog, you must feed them an age-appropriate diet. Senior dogs are more prone to digestion problems, chewing difficulties, lack of appetite, and obesity, so adjusting to a diet with these things in mind can help prevent future digestive or eating issues.
Whole foods are a great alternative to processed dog food and can make your aging pup happy. Some useful whole food tips:
• Feed your dog meals that contain omega-3, such as egg yolks and fish
• Bone broth is ideal for joint and bone support
• Pumpkins are rich in fiber and can help your dog with bowel issues
• Digestive enzymes, such as Pancreatin, can help ease digestion
Consult with your veterinarian who can suggest an appropriate diet, ensuring that your dog is eating a balanced meal while managing their weight and any diseases. The ideal meal will most likely contain few calories, low fat, and plenty of fiber.
Exercise Your Dog
Exercising your dog can positively impact their overall health. It helps maintain an ideal weight, healthy joints, and muscles. Your dog's exercise needs will depend on their individual requirements but it’s always a good idea to get them moving in some fashion. You can begin with regular walks or light jogs to build your dog's stamina. Remember that your aging dog has lower energy levels so be cognizant of time and distance. You can also ask your vet to recommend an effective exercise program depending on your dog's condition.
Groom Your Dog Regularly
When your dog starts to age, you are likely to notice their coat becoming dull and brittle. The skin can become dry and flaky, especially if you do not take proper care of it. Help maintain these symptoms by brushing your dog's fur regularly and, when bathing, use natural shampoo to nourish the coat and rejuvenate dry skin.
Maintain Your Dog's Oral Health
When you see a senior dog missing a few teeth, it is most likely because they didn't receive proper dental care when younger. But it’s never too late to take care of your dog's teeth! Regularly brush their teeth with a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste.
If you have a hard time brushing your dog’s teeth for one reason or another, consider dental treats or toys as an alternative. You can also take your dog to a vet for professional cleaning.
Provide Special Accommodations
For proper aging dog care, it is necessary to provide your aging dog with special accommodations because senior dogs are likely to experience joint problems that affect their mobility. Additionally, if your dog is partially blind, it will have a hard time jumping on the sofa or moving around, especially at night.
If your house has stairs, it can be difficult for your dog to climb up and down. You can install a ramp to make its movement easier or, alternatively, you can install gates to prevent your dog from accessing the stairs at all.
Also, if you have hard-surface flooring, placing carpets or rugs can help your arthritic dog regain its footing, making it easier to move about.
Taking your dog to a veterinarian is arguably the best way to take care of your aging dog. Senior dogs have a weaker immune system, so they are prone to all sorts of diseases. We advise you to take your dog for checkups at least twice a year as this will allow the veterinarian to detect and treat any disorder early.
While at the vet, ensure that you ask him or her for a body condition evaluation. It will help determine whether your dog is overweight or underweight while also looking for signs of disease such as:
• Dental disease- bleeding gums, bad breath, and loss of appetite
• Cancer- weight loss, tiredness, abdominal bloating, loss of appetite, and lumps
• Diabetes- weight gain, thirst, weight loss, and increased urination
• Arthritis- limping, stiffness, and difficulty jumping or getting up
• Cognitive disorders- a sudden change in behavior, vocalizations, and disorientation
• Liver or kidney diseases- change in appetite, urination, and weight
• Heart diseases- weight loss, coughing, and difficulty in breathing
When you are not visiting your vet, ensure that you monitor your dog and report any suspicious symptoms that may arise.
When it comes to senior dogs, vaccination intervals may change; it is still imperative that you vaccinate your pup. When your dog ages, parasites such as ticks, fleas, and worms will
continue to attack, so you shouldn't stop administering the necessary treatments.
Seek Supportive Canine Therapy
Today, there are several safe and effective ways to relieve pain for your pooch. Unlike medication, these methods work without any side effects. Options include:
• Laser Therapy
Using a cold-laser device, your vet can treat chronic injuries, muscle pulls, and arthritis. Laser therapy can also speed up healing after an injury or surgery.
Hydrotherapy involves swimming. It has many benefits, including relieving joint paints and building cardiovascular health.
Senior dogs need special attention to ensure that they continue to live a happy life! At North Star Animal Center, we know your pet is the light of your life. That’s why keeping your loved one healthy and happy is so important to us. We want to ensure as many joyful homecomings as possible. Our services are comprehensive, our prices are affordable, and – most importantly – our care and compassion are genuine. Book a wellness exam with your elderly pup today!