Like us, dogs need a little extra care as they age. Dogs, however, can’t ask for what they need. Instead, you must figure it out, which can be tricky. To make sure your dog fully enjoys their last few years, it’s important to be proactive with their health. To make it easier, here are six things you can do to keep your aging dog happy and healthy.
Know When Seniority Begins
Dogs don’t start asking for senior citizen discounts at a certain age, but there are other signs of seniority. Senior dogs develop gray facial hair, rest a bit more and start to move more slowly. Large breeds become seniors sooner, with Great Danes considered seniors at age seven while toy poodles don’t reach senior status until age ten. Each breed is different, so be sure to talk to your vet about changes you should make when they reach an older age. One important thing to do in older age with dogs is change their food. Just as puppies have special foods, mature dogs need it too.
Visit the Vet
Visit your vet regularly rather than waiting for a problem. Vets can address issues you know your dog is having and spot trouble you may not see. Preventive care helps pets avoid unnecessary discomfort and is often less expensive than treating problems. They know which breeds are prone to certain diseases and can look for problems, as well as give you information about signs to look for.
Provide Upward Mobility
For both man and beast, age is often accompanied by joint pain and occasional muscle stiffness. Provide ramps or steps to make climbing onto beds and other furniture easier for your older dog. Avoid slips by placing rubber-backed area rugs or carpet on slippery floors.
Develop a Diet
Some older dogs become less active and need a diet that won’t cause weight gain. Others lose weight as they age and need more calories. Diabetes and other issues are often managed with dietary changes and some dogs need softer or smaller food with age. Talk to your vet about possible dietary changes and restrictions you may need to implement.
Watch the Weather
Senior dogs frequently struggle to regulate their body temperature. Bundle your dog up in a coat for winter walks and provide lots of water on hot days. Limit the amount of time your dog spends outside during both temperature extremes and shorten walks if necessary.
Provide Pool Protection
Older dogs don’t move or see as well as they once did, and this can spell trouble if you have a pool. Elderly dogs may fall into the pool and be unable to get out, so supervise them when they are poolside.
Caring for your senior dog requires paying attention to behavioral changes and interpreting them, often with the help of a trained veterinarian. Older dogs do require a bit of extra time and attention, but keeping those sloppy dog kisses coming as long as possible is well worth the investment.
Informational credit to Brimley-Lawrence Animal Clinic.