Age is the typical marker for determining senior status for a dog, the age at which a dog is considered a senior differs depending on their size and breed. Smaller dog breeds are considered seniors when they reach the ages of 10 to 12-years-old, mid-sized dog breeds at the ages of 8 to 10-years-old, and larger-sized dogs at the ages of five to six years old.
Other factors such as health status and the type of care a dog receives may delay the aging process. Pet parents need to pay attention to signs of aging. Signs of aging in a dog may include their fur turning gray, difficulty in hearing and getting tired more easily, among other symptoms. If your dog is showing these signs and they’re a little over seven years old, your dog may have reached senior status.
If you have a senior dog, you should know the care they now need will differ from when they were a puppy or adult. As they get older, they will become more prone to developing ailments, and their health will slowly decline. With proper care, you can help to delay the onset of illnesses and allow your aging pup to live a good quality life despite their weak body.
Read on to know how to properly care for your senior dog and ensure they can keep living their best life even in old age.
Help Your Dog Regulate Their Temperature
As your dog ages, they become more sensitive to colder weather and extreme heat. To help them keep warm during cold seasons, wrap them up in customizable full zip dog hoodies or winter coats when taking a walk outdoors.
On the other hand, strive to keep them cool during warm seasons. If the weather is hot, but you have to take a walk, make your dog wear a bandana that you can wet or spray with water to keep them cool.
Adjust Your Home to Suit Your Aging Dog’s Needs
Older dogs often develop ailments such as cataracts or arthritis, among other health problems that you have to watch out for. These conditions can be an impediment to their mobility so it’s best to modify your home to address these concerns.
For senior dogs with cataracts or waning eyesight, use nightlights around your home to help them see their surroundings, especially at night. Avoid rearranging furniture as your aging dog will rely on their memory to navigate the house.
For dogs with joint pains or arthritis, going up and down the stairs may become difficult. You can use a baby gate to stop your dog from accessing the stairs so they’re less likely to get injured. If they have a favorite spot on the second floor, try to recreate it on the ground floor so your pup can continue to enjoy familiar surroundings.
Place their food and water bowls on a ledge or stool so your dog doesn’t have to strain their neck to eat and drink.
Slippery and hard flooring will be too tough on your dog’s joints, so use carpets or rugs to make it easier for them to walk. The carpet or rug will also prevent them from slipping and provides a softer landing if they fall.
Keep Your Dog Active
Physical and mental exercise are essential to keeping your senior dog healthy. An old dog will likely have shorter bursts of energy but getting them to move frequently and regularly will offer a lot of benefits and help prevent their bodies from declining rapidly. Likewise, staying active will prevent them from gaining weight, which may impact their joint health. Walking for 30 minutes every day is a good example.
You should also exercise your dog’s brain. A healthy combination of physical and mental exercise will help your dog keep symptoms of canine cognitive dysfunction at bay, which is like Alzheimer’s for dogs. Stimulate your dog's mind by teaching them new tricks, giving them new toys to play with, and brain games like finding the treat or puzzle toys.
Feed Your Dog a Well-Balanced Diet
Monitoring your aging pup’s weight is vital to their joint health. An overweight dog will develop joint pains and may have difficulty walking. Feed them a well-balanced diet to help them maintain their size if they’re already at an appropriate weight. Avoid overfeeding or giving them human food if they have a strict diet.
Groom Your Dog More Often
Aging affects your dog’s hair quality, skin, teeth and gum health. Your senior dog may also find it difficult to groom themselves. If this happens, you should start grooming them more frequently. Regular grooming sessions can help you keep your dog’s coat clean and allow you to bond with your dog. Grooming will also give you a chance to observe and monitor their skin for flakes, bumps and other skin irritations.
If you haven’t been brushing your senior dog’s teeth regularly, now is the time to do so. Aging dogs are more prone to gum disease and cracked teeth, so maintain good oral hygiene to prevent such problems. If your dog isn’t used to brushing their teeth, get their teeth professionally cleaned by a vet and give them more dental treats to help remove plaque and tartar.
Visit the Vet Regularly
Increase your vet visits now that your dog is getting older. A biannual check-up can help detect early signs of ailments and recommend proper care and medication. Finding problems before they become serious increases your pet’s chances of recovery and ensures that they stay comfortable and pain-free. In addition, strive to get your dog’s blood work checked once a year. Doing so will help you detect other illnesses that may not show physical symptoms.
Your dog reaching senior status is a testament to the care and love you’ve given to your fur baby. Continue to monitor their health as they grow older and adjust your treatment accordingly. Doing so will help your aging dog live a comfortable life despite their geriatric age.
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