We all love our pups and we need to take extra special care of them when they start to age. In some ways caring for senior dogs is much like caring for a puppy. They both require a higher level of supervision and definitely more attention!
At what age do dogs start entering their senior years?
Smaller dogs such as Terriers and Chihuahuas generally enter their senior years between 10-12 years of age whereas larger dogs can enter their senior years from 7 years of age.
Below are some care tips that are especially important when your pup enters their senior years.
Caring For Their Teeth
A dog's dental hygiene becomes especially important in these years. Brushing your dog's teeth regularly and having them professionally cleaned by your vet when check-ups are due can prevent any complications that may arise from dental and gum disease. Poor dental hygiene can inhibit your loved one from eating properly.
Older dogs often have dietary issues which includes loss of appetite, problems chewing their food, obesity and digestive issues.
The best course of action is to discuss your dog's dietary needs with a vet. You may need to add more fibre or even decrease carbohydrates. It is also becoming more common for pet owners to supplement their pets with glucosamine or fish oil for joint longevity and to alleviate joint pain for arthritic dogs.
As a general rule, most dogs benefit from a gradual change in diet around seven years of age. The changes needed will depend on health conditions and breed.
Senior dogs can develop pain and difficulty enjoying the exercise they used to. It is still important that your dog gets their exercise though so it's best to monitor them and adjust exercise time accordingly.
Your dog's brain needs to be kept active too. Interactive games such as food puzzles are a great way to keep your pup sharp.
Increasing checkups is essential as your dog gets older. Like most living things, older dogs are more susceptible to age-related health issues. The early detection of some of these issues is essential for your dog to have a great quality of life in their remaining years.
Just like when you had to puppy proof your house and garden you now should make slight adjustments to your home again.
For example, a dog struggling with sore joints or arthritis may need a ramp to get in your car or a dog that has deteriorating eyesight may need their food and drink in the same place each day.
You may consider a new, softer, bigger bed that is easier for them to get in and out. You also may consider a soft dog blanket to keep joints warm at night ( as the colder weather can emphasize arthritic pain).
Pay close attention to your dog's behaviour. Changes in the way your pet acts can be a red flag.
It's a good idea to start keeping a journal of your pet's mood, appetite, weight, and behaviour. Sometimes owners, as they see their dog every day, can lose track of these changes. The purpose of this journal is to flag any issues your pup may have so they can be acted upon earlier.
If you have any further questions a consult with your vet may be necessary. We hope you enjoyed this blog and we would love you to leave a comment on your thoughts or even if you have an idea that you'd like to add!
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Thanks for reading,
The Pampered Pet