There are countless reasons why dogs are considered “man’s best friend.” Key among those is that they provide companionship, love, and loyalty without asking for much in return.
And when it comes to senior dogs, they can provide an even greater level of companionship and love than ever before. It’s important that we take care of our elderly pooches, as they may require a bit more TLC than their younger counterparts.
This article from Eun Rockwell will discuss the best ways to care for older dogs – from ensuring they get enough exercise to proper nutrients in their diet.
How do you know if an old dog is suffering?
It’s never easy to lose a pet, but it can be especially difficult when your dog is old and has been by your side for many years. When an elderly dog starts to slow down and its health begins to decline, it can be hard to tell if it is suffering or simply getting older.
However, there are important telltale signs you should always keep a keen eye on as they may be indicative that your dog is in pain and needs help. If your dog has difficulty moving around, is no longer interested in food or play, and seems generally lethargic, it may be time to speak to your veterinarian.
Your vet will be able to assess your dog’s health and determine whether it is experiencing pain or simply nearing the end of its life. In either case, you will be able to make only the best decision for your long-time furry companion.
At what age are dogs considered old?
One of pet parents’ most frequently asked questions is at what age exactly are the dogs considered old. The answer is that it really depends on the size of the dog.
Small dogs like the Chihuahuas and Terriers generally live the longest and are not considered senior dogs until they are 11 to 12 years old; medium-sized dogs are considered senior at ten years, while larger breeds only have eight years.
The giant dog breeds like the Great Danes have an even shorter timeline and are typically considered seniors at just seven years. However, this information is not set in stone, as each dog’s individual age, health, and lifestyle play a big role in how long they will live. Here are our most recommended ways that you can take care of your senior dogs.
Get them checked by the vet regularly
As your dog ages, it is important to have even more frequent vet visits. This is particularly important because with old age comes an increased risk of developing several health complications. The most common health issues include arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
By taking them for regular check-ups, you can catch any potential problems early on and get your dog the treatment it needs. You should also maintain their vaccinations, as senior dogs can be more susceptible to infections.
Have them sleep in a comfortable bed
As dogs age, they may start to experience joint pain and stiffness. This can lead to a myriad of issues, including sleep difficulty, which can impact their overall health.
You should invest in a comfortable bed to help your senior dog get a good night’s sleep. And there are so many types of dog beds you can buy for your pet, such as orthopaedic beds, that can provide your dog with the support they need.
You can also try placing their bed in a warm, quiet spot in your home, away from drafts. Ensuring your senior dog is comfortable at night can help them get the rest they need to stay healthy and happy.
Feed them a healthy diet
As your dog enters its golden years, you may notice that it is starting to slow down. Its once boundless energy may be replaced with a more leisurely pace, and it may even start to put on a few extra pounds.
While reduced energy and enthusiasm are a natural part of the aging process, there are instances when they may be indicative that your furry friend just isn’t getting the nutrition its system desperately needs. Senior dogs tend to have a slower metabolism and may require a different balance of nutrients than younger dogs.
For example, they may need more protein to maintain muscle mass or more fiber to help regulate digestion. Speaking to your vet about the most ideal food types for your senior dog is important.
They may recommend a food that is higher in protein or fiber or contains specific nutrients for joint health. By feeding your senior dog a healthy diet, you can help them stay active and enjoy their retirement years.
Give them enough exercise
Just because your dog is getting older doesn’t mean they don’t still need exercise. In fact, senior dogs often benefit from regular exercise, as it can help them stay strong and agile.
Of course, you will need to adapt your dog’s exercise routine as they age. For example, an elderly dog with arthritis may not be able to go for long walks like it used to.
Instead, you can try shorter walks or just let them play in the yard. Provided that your older dog is getting some form of exercise, it will benefit their health.
Perhaps a big hindrance to this would be if you still have several other activities to take care of, for example, students may have college essays to complete. Therefore you may want to hire someone to walk your dog.
Give them regular baths
Skin problems such as dryness, itchiness, or even hot spots are common issues in senior dogs. This is often due to a decrease in the production of natural oils, which can lead to dry and irritated skin.
One of the best ways to ensure your senior dog’s skin stays healthy is to give them regular baths. It would be best if you used a mild shampoo designed for dogs, as human shampoo can be too harsh.
After their bath, make sure to apply a good quality conditioner to help lock in moisture. It would help if you also considered using canine sunscreen when taking your dog outside, as they can be more susceptible to sunburns as they age.
Brush their teeth regularly
Just like humans, senior dogs are at a higher risk for developing dental problems such as gum disease and tooth decay. This is often due to decreased saliva production, which can lead to bacteria build-up.
To ensure the dog’s teeth remain healthy, brush them regularly with canine toothpaste. It would also really help if you could find dental chews or treats specifically designed to help reduce plaque and tartar that is building up.
If you spot any signs indicative of any potential dental issues, such as bad breath or bleeding gums, you should have the dog see the vet for an examination. By keeping up with their dental care, you can help ensure that any serious health problem is kept at arm’s length.
Keep their coat healthy
As dogs age, they may start to lose their fur, or their coat may become dull and brittle. This is often due to a decrease in the production of natural oils, which can lead to dry skin and fur.
To help keep your senior dog’s coat healthy, you should brush it regularly with a canine brush. You can also give them regular baths with mild shampoo and conditioner.
After their bath, make sure to apply a good quality canine coat oil or cream. This will help lock in moisture and keep their skin and fur healthy.
Spend more time with them
As your senior dog ages, it may experience problems such as arthritis, vision loss, or hearing loss. These issues may make the dog feel not only isolated but also very alone.
To ensure that your older dog always remains healthy and happy, it’s important to spend more time with them. You can do several activities to kill boredom, for example, going for walks, cuddling on the couch, or just playing with them in the yard.
It’s also important to keep up with their socialisation by taking them to dog parks or meeting new people. Spending more time with your senior dog can help them stay happy and healthy well into their golden years.
Tell us about your Golden Oldie
It really does help to know a few hacks for caring for an older dog. They may need more rest, so make sure their bed is comfortable. Do you have a cherished old pooch? Let us know in the comments below.
Eun Rockwell is a freelance journalist, blogger and copywriter who writes and works with several assignment writing services, such as essay writing service UK. She creates unique and research-based content about education, career, and travel. She has two adorable dogs.