Realizing that your four-legged friend is turning into a senior dog won’t happen overnight. Some days everything seems to go like clockwork except for a few minor incidents. Then one day, it hits us – the young, and lively dog that was last year is gone. From that moment it’s important to know how to take care of older dogs.
Some dogs will find it challenging to move around, others to hear or maybe to see or eat. It is in these moments that our brave dogs who have accompanied us throughout their lives need us the most.
How to take care of older dogs?
Fortunately, nowadays, there are many ways to keep our faithful companions comfortable and happy in their old age. How do you know your dog is approaching his old age? And above all, how to take care of an elderly dog?
Different breeds of dogs age differently, but the rule of thumb is: the bigger the dog breed, the faster he ages. A dog starts ageing when the third, third of his life begins. We are therefore talking about six years for a Dane and around ten years for a small breed with stable health.
When your dog reaches this stage, he must receive the proper amount of exercise, food, and veterinary care.
Related: 5 Most Common Joint Problems In Dogs
What are the first signs of an ageing dog?
You may notice a regression in your dog’s obedience, which now decides to turn a deaf ear. A healthy older dog will also become less active and energetic than before and would like to get more rest.
Senior dogs can be at higher risk for certain diseases:
- Joint disorders: difficulty moving, osteoarthritis
- Heart problems: shortness of breath, fatigue, cough
- Kidney disease: increased thirst
- Oral diseases: tartar, bad breath
- Loss of sight and hearing
- Behaviour disorders: incontinence, aggressiveness
Physical changes also accompany the ageing of the dog. For example, white hairs will start to appear, especially around the muzzle. The coat usually becomes duller, and you will also notice a change in weight. With reduced physical activity, older dogs tend to get a little overweight.
Tips how to maintain good health of your older dog
Plan regular exercise
Exercising is essential for improving digestion and blood circulation, but make sure not to overdo it. Your dog will have less energy than before, so you will have to allow him to have more quiet time. Find a good rhythm of exercise to prevent your dog from having common problems as he ages, such as weight gain and arthritis. A leisurely walk once or twice a day in addition to some easy play exercises will do the job. Avoid running and making him take the stairs.
Get comfortable dog bed
For sleeping, a larger basket or a very thick cushion will undoubtedly be more comfortable. Consider getting a good quality bedding suitable for senior dogs to increase their comfort not only while they sleep but throughout the day. The cushions are usually made of foam and shell-shaped, which reduce pressure and pain in the joints, allowing your dog to feel less sore when waking up. As always, put his bed in a quiet place, away from the hustle and bustle.
Provide healthy diet for your dog
As the dog gets older, he will need to change his diet. Weight gain due to slower metabolism is a common problem at this stage.
Make sure you are providing him with enough fluids. Generally, senior dogs need fewer calories with fewer protein amounts but still enough to help maintain the teeth, coat, and good health. Giving too much protein to senior dogs can overload their kidneys and damage the filters in the long run.
Plan regular vet visits
Ageing will expose your dog to many emotional and physical changes; regular check-ups and vaccinations are necessary as well as a geriatric exam twice a year.
Just because your dog is getting old doesn’t mean you have to put him aside. During this period, he needs extra love, attention and care.