How to take care of an aging dog?
Aging is a normal part of all dogs (and humans) lives.
We need to keep in mind that the needs of our senior or mature dog are different from their younger counterparts.
As dogs age they have less energy and often have hearing problems and may develop cataracts. Bigger dogs often suffer from hip dysplasia.
At what age is a dog a senior or mature?
Small breeds are considered old when they are about 10 or 11 years of age. Medium sized breeds, like Golden Retriever, become seniors at the age of 8-10, and giant breeds are considered old by the age of 5 or 6.
Genetics, diet and lifestyle play a great part in the aging process.
A Great Dane that is 8 years old can be completely healthy and show no signs of getting older or infirm. A pug can be 14 and still acting like a mature puppy.
10 Tips to take care of a senior dog:
- Wellness visits - Talk with your vet about twice annual vet visits and wellness exams to catch any potential problems before they become serious.
- Get on a healthy diet - A balanced diet plays a big role in maintaining your dog's health even when they age. Older dogs are at a higher risk for becoming obese as they no longer have the levels of energy as before. So it is important to find the best dog food that is specially designed for senior dogs in order to prevent weight gain. If your mature dog has lost some of their appetite,check their teeth for gum infections and broken teeth.
- Consider supplements - such as glucosamine for joint health, and/or probiotics or digestive health. or a bone broth that has both, glucosamine and probiotics and easily added to kibble. With regular use over time, supplements like these may be able to make a big difference in your dog’s health, and they often just be added to their regular meals
- Regular exercise will help your dog maintain their ideal weight and will also have a beneficial impact on their overall health. You can talk to your vet and ask for a recommended exercise program for the health and any limitations that your dog may have. Be patient, start slowly and build your dog's stamina with regular walks.
- Oral health - aging dogs are at an increased risk of things like gum disease and cracked teeth, which are painful, serious conditions that require vet attention to ensure they don't get infected. Start brushing your dog's teeth regularly with a finger brush and dog-friendly toothpaste, using gentle circular movements and placing your finger at a 45-degree angle to scrub at the gum line. And if you notice resistance, bleeding, swelling, or signs of pain, schedule an appointment with the vet.
- Grooming - as dogs age, their coat and skin, can become dull looking and brittle. Seniors can also suffer from dry, flaky, and irritated skin that can become even worse if not cared for properly. Brush your dog regularly to avoid mats and tangles, use natural shampoos to heal irritated skin and coats.
- Mix up activity levels -senior dogs need playtime and walks They might more encouragement to stay active. Follow their lead when it comes to the length of activities and don’t force them to overdo it. Try different activities, take them for a swim, it easy on their joints and burns calories to help with weight management.
Spend time with your senior dog - a geriatric or mature dog can easily become anxious if they don't sense their owner by their side, and that makes them terrified. So try to spend as much time as you can with your dog.
Mature dogs may not be able to see or hear you but still need your presence and attention in order to stay emotionally and mentally healthy. So instead of dwelling on your dog's age, take them for a walk, play with them, and give them healthy treats.
- Watch for signs of discomfort - as we all know, dogs can’t talk, but they communicate with us in other ways. It’s our job as their parents to watch out for signs they might be in distress. Some things to look for include limping, difficulties getting up and down, changing position, difficulties climbing stairs or jumping, and lying down when eating or drinking—all of which suggest that your dog needs a visit to the vet.
- Optimize your living space for your senior dog’s needs - consider an orthopedic bed and raised food and water bowls. The goal is to keep your dog as safe and comfortable as possible, and to help them maintain some of their independence, even as they slow down.Some mature dogs go completely blind, you need to make sure that they are able to navigate the house. That means that you shouldn't move furniture because this will confuse your dog and make them bump into things unnecessarily.
Like people, not all dogs age the same, what is certain is that they all get old at some point.
Aging is the natural process of things and every owner should be prepared for it.
As a dog becomes senior, they will have less energy, more trouble walking, and may develop cataracts or hearing loss, among other things. This might sound scary, but in fact, these things won't happen overnight and your pup and you will have time to adapt to new circumstances.
Older dogs may have some special needs that need to be met and you will have to learn how to care for a senior dog.
With proper elderly dog care and attention, your dog will maintain their health and continue to lead a happy life for many years to come.