As much as we hate it and try to make the time stop for our fur babies, it is inevitable that they are going to age. But what age can we consider our dogs to be a senior? According to VCA animal hospitals, for small breeds like Chihuahua, Shih Tzu, and Pug they are considered senior dogs when they reach the age of 11-12. For medium-sized breeds like Bulldogs, Border Collies, and Beagles they are considered senior dogs when they reach the age of 10. For larger-sized breeds like Cane Corso, Great Dane, and Golden retriever, they are considered senior dogs when they reach the age of 8. Lastly, for even larger breeds, they are considered senior dogs when they reach the age of 7.
You can’t stop time, but you can make the remaining senior years of your dog the best years of his life! Here are 5 tips on how you can take care of your senior dog
Keep your senior dog comfortable
Your senior dog may not be as active as they were compared to when they were younger, so they need lots of rest. Always make sure that they have a comfortable place where they can rest and take a nap. You can get a warm and soft dog bed and place it somewhere inside the house where they can comfortably take naps away from the noise and children or other pets from playing with them.
You can enhance their comfort by ensuring that all their necessities are easily accessible. Older dogs typically have reduced appetite and activity levels, opting for more frequent naps and increased water intake. It would be easier for them if they can have easy access to their food and especially their water bowl anytime they need to. You can place it somewhere you know they usually go to and can easily go to. You can also try pet bowl stands which are basically food/water bowls that are elevated and are at the right level where your dog doesn’t have to hurt their head and neck reaching for food on the floor. These pet bowl stands are usually beneficial for senior pets, especially those with orthopedic conditions.
Lastly, you have to understand that your senior pup may need to go to the toilet more often. Before they can even go outside to do their business, they may have already peed on your carpet. Although urinary problems can be common in senior dogs, you can still keep them comfortable and feel loved. First thing that you need to do is, don’t get angry and shout at your furry companion. Remember that they might have feelings of confusion or stress from not being able to do things that they used to do. Next important thing to do is to have your pup checked by your veterinarian so they can figure out the underlying cause and keep your senior dog healthy!
Stick to a healthy diet
Just like your dog’s activity, their diet also decreases as they age due to the slowing down of their metabolism and decreased energy expenditure. A senior dog needs to have controlled calorie intake and avoid nutrient excesses and ensure proper hydration. It is also best to refrain from giving foods that are high in salt, sugar, or any chemicals as this can cause extra stress on your pup’s organs and end up causing more problems. However, if your senior dog has any medical issues you have to consult with your vet which diet is suitable for them.
If your senior dog is generally healthy but they’re not as excited as they were during meal time, this may be due to a reduction in their sense of smell which comes with aging. You can try these simple tricks to make meal time more interesting:
- Warm their food. Warming their food can release the scent of the food and make it more tempting for them to eat it.
- If you usually give dry food to your pup, you can try adding something yummy and savory like broth, canned food, or gravy.
- Serve their favorite food from time to time, but always make sure to check in with your vet.
Take note: Senior dogs tend to eat less, but not eating or drinking for more than a day is not a good sign and it may be time to get your pup checked by your vet.
Keep them active
It’s important to keep your senior dogs comfortable, but that doesn’t mean letting them sleep the whole day. Always remember that your dogs don’t care where you go or what you do, as long as you spend time with them it’s the best time of their life! Senior dogs can still live an active lifestyle, you just have to tweak some of your usual routine.
Go for walks instead of your usual jogging routine. You can just take your dog to your backyard and let them walk around and sniff the place. A slow walk with lots of sniffing time can physically and mentally keep them active. Sniffing provides lots of mental stimulation which can help keep their brain and body healthy.
Take trips and exercise to the next level! You can also try swimming with your senior dogs. Swimming is the perfect exercise to keep your senior dogs active as this provides an all-around exercise without placing stress and pressure on their bones and joints.
Schedule regular check ups
Prevention will always be better than cure. As your pup ages, they can be more susceptible to lots of illnesses like arthritis, organ failure, gum disease, dementia, and a lot more. Statistically, certain illnesses are more likely to manifest on senior dogs and the best that you could do is to catch them early. Early diagnosis can slow down the disease process, prevent any associated symptoms that come with the illness, and even help with good prognosis.
A routine check up with your vet also helps keep track of your dog’s weight, do nutritional assessments, and dental checks. Your veterinarian can also do a physical exam on your senior dog and check for lumps, lesions, or anything suspicious.
Vet visits are also a nice way to raise all your concerns or ask any questions to your veterinarian.
Don’t forget to groom your senior dog
Some would argue that grooming can cause stress to your senior dogs, but lack of grooming can even cause more problems to your senior dogs. Senior dogs need to be groomed just as regularly and they need it to keep them clean, comfortable, and healthy. The lack of grooming can result in matted hair, skin infections, and pain on their paws when their nails are untrimmed.
If you’re worried about causing stress to your senior dogs, you can try these tips:
- Use soft brushes when grooming. By simply brushing the skin of your dog you can stimulate blood flow which is necessary for fur growth and keeping their fur healthy. A soft brush also makes sure that you don’t hurt your senior dog’s fragile skin.
- Be as quick as possible when grooming. Your senior dog may not be able to stand for a long period of time.
- Keep them comfortable and safe. Make sure your dog is standing or lying on a soft, no-skid surface for brushing sessions.
When in doubt of your grooming skills, you can always go to an experienced groomer. An experienced senior dog groomer can help you manage this routine easily.
Taking care of your senior dog can be a little exhausting at times, but all these are worth it once you look back on all the times that both of you shared together.