There’s a bitter truth that many dog owners know but don’t want to admit to themselves – that one day, their dogs will become old too and will die. As difficult as that is, aging is a natural process of life and there’s nothing you can do to stop your dogs from aging.
Dogs between 7 and 13 years of age are considered to be senior dogs in general, though this may vary from breed to breed. At the senior stage of its life, your dog will become senile with a decreased brain and physical functionality. Their vision and hearing may get worse over time, and they can catch various diseases.
Now, don’t get all upset. Though its golden days are behind it, your senior dog can still live a long and happy life with the right care from you as the owner. Taking care of your senior dog can be quite different from taking care of it when it was younger. To give you some pointers, we’ve prepared a list of top tips for taking care of your senior dog. Let’s take a look at those.
#1. Give It the Right Food For Its Age
It is important to give your dog the age-appropriate food. A balanced diet is essential for sure, but there are other factors to watch out for. For example, senior dogs are more prone to obesity since they are not quite as physically active as they used to be. Therefore, you should be smart about it and only give it food that is right for its age by design.
This often means providing your dog with food that is high in nutrients but does not have a high calorie count or fat content. That being said, you should consult a vet or specialist while trying to understand what kind of nutrients your senior dog needs – depending on its breed, lifestyle and physical condition.
#2. Exercise is Essential
As dogs grow older, they tend to become less and less physically active by no fault of their own – it’s just the natural way of things. As a result, your dog’s weight, fitness, and stamina can get affected. These can increase the risks of various diseases in your dog.
To battle that, exercise is of high importance. Therefore, take your dog for walks; however, be advised that you need to be mindful of how much physical activity your dog can bear. Consult your vet so you can design an exercise plan keeping your dog’s conditions in mind.
#3. Protect It From Outside Harm
Dogs of all ages are prone to ticks and fleas. But senior dogs are more likely to get sick from ticks and fleas as the dogs’ immune system becomes less active over time. Therefore, be extra careful and look out for ticks and fleas and get rid of them to ensure your senior dog is not feeling any discomfort.
Vaccination, too, is necessary to keep your dog away from diseases. Senior dogs may not need as many vaccines as pups, but a visit to the vet can inform you which vaccines your senior dog needs and how often.
#4. Take Care of Its Dental Health
Adult dogs often don’t get the dental care they need; as a result, when the dog gets older, it faces dental issues. Taking care of your senior dog’s teeth is needed to ensure that it does not suffer from a toothache or other dental discomforts.
Here are some bite-sized tips on how to take care of your senior dog’s dental health.
- Brush your dog’s teeth every day;
- Offer it treats that are good for its teeth;
- Have the vet professionally clean your dog’s teeth and check for oral diseases.
#5. Regularly Take Your Dog To The Vet
We’ve mentioned consulting the vet quite a few times already, and that’s because it is of the utmost importance when it comes to senior dogs. As said before, older dogs don’t have an efficient immune system as they once used to, so they are at a higher risk of catching diseases.
Taking your dog to the vet regularly for check-ups allows you to identify any illnesses your dog is suffering from and start the treatment accordingly as soon as possible. Moreover, the vet may prescribe dietary supplements or restrictions depending on your old dog’s physical condition, and it is important that you incorporate those in your dog’s everyday dietary habits. It’s a good idea to visit the vet once every six months for older dogs.
#6. Accommodate Your Dog’s Special Needs
Senior dogs may have a number of physical conditions for which they require special treatment, otherwise, they face discomfort or even pain. Therefore it’s suggested you invest in making some adjustments in your house to accommodate the special needs of your senior dog.
For example, if your dog has arthritis, they may feel discomfort climbing stairs. In such cases, you could install doggy ramps to easily help your dog move upstairs and downstairs with ease. Alternately, you could simply install a doggy proof gate at the bottom of the staircase, thus effectively keeping your dog from climbing the stairs altogether. You can also make their sleep better by using dog ramps you can see that at Chasing Tails.
#7. Be Mindful of Your Senior Dog’s Mental Health
Senior dogs, just like senior citizens, can suffer from mental health issues including anxiety, depression, loss of appetite, etc. These can, in turn, affect your dog’s physical health. Therefore, if you notice any abrupt behavioral changes in your dog, you should speak to an expert and figure out how to help your dog live its remaining days happily.
As your dog grows older into seniority, it will lose its energy and enthusiasm and can grow ill. As the dog’s owner who has fed and played with it since its childhood, it will be immensely difficult for you to see your dog age and suffer.
But as the dog’s owner, it is your responsibility to take care of it. By following the tips mentioned above, you can ease your dog’s pain a little bit and help it live a happy life.
Just remember, you mean the world to your dog. So spend time with it as much as you can, and let your senior dog be happy and content for as long as possible.