Senior Dog Care: Care and Expectations
It’s normal for a dog to experience many changes as they get older, including greying hair, loss of mobility, deterioration in vision and hearing, and more proneness to health problems. Even though some changes may seem more obvious than others, it’s important to know everything you can expect from your senior dog. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know, plus tips to keep your dog healthy during its golden years.
What is the definition of a senior dog?
Dogs age differently depending on their size, with large and giant dogs ageing much faster than smaller breeds. Nevertheless, dogs don’t age suddenly. Keep a close eye on your dog’s health and behaviour, and talk to your veterinarian if you detect any changes because ageing is a slow, steady process and changes might be subtle.
Common changes in senior dogs
- Greying and thinning fur in senior dogs
- Reduced interaction and mobility in senior dogs
- Weight changes in senior dogs
- Increased anxiety in senior dogs
- Sensitivity to temperature in senior dogs
- Loss of hearing and vision in senior dogs
- Behavioural and mood changes in senior dogs
- Dental and oral issues in senior dogs
- Decreased self-hygiene/grooming in senior dogs
- Medical issues and complications in senior dogs
Important Facts That You Should Know About Senior Dogs
1. Senior Dogs Diet Is Important
Just as with puppies and adult dogs, a balanced diet is essential for maintaining good health in senior dogs. Due to their low energy levels and decreased mobility, senior dogs require elderly dog food specially formulated for their diet. Besides being easier to digest, elderly pets require different calorie levels, ingredients, and nutrients.
2. Senior Dogs Exercise Is Important
It is important to exercise senior dogs regularly to keep them healthy and their weight in control. It is better to consult your veterinarian if your senior dog has a chronic disease before creating a daily exercise programme.
3. Senior Dogs Regular Veterinarian Examinations Are Important
As early detection and treatment are possible, it is advised that senior dogs have veterinary visits every six months rather than annually. This allows for the early diagnosis and treatment of diseases as well as the gathering of information on general health issues. Veterinary exams for older pets are similar to those for younger pets, but they are more thorough and may include dental care, blood tests, and specific screenings for diseases that are more likely to affect older pets.
Consider this if your dog is not neutered. Older pets who are not neutered or spayed are more likely to develop testicular, mammary, and prostate cancers.
4. Senior Dogs Dental Health Is Important
Oral and dental care are important for dogs throughout their lives. Inadequate dental care in the early years may cause dogs to suffer digestive and even other health problems in old age. For senior dogs, regular brushing is recommended, along with treatment of any dental problems and annual teeth cleanings.
5. Senior Dogs Preventive Care Is Important
The age of your dog does not matter when it comes to parasites. All dog breeds and ages may require medicine for internal and external parasites. Unlike younger dogs, older dogs have weaker immune systems, which makes it more difficult for them to fight diseases or heal as quickly. It is best to consult your veterinarian about a vaccination programme for your senior dog.
6. Senior Dogs Grooming Is Important
Dogs’ skin and hair start to change as they become older. Their hair may also grow more brittle and lose its sheen. In order to stimulate blood circulation in their skin and remove shed hair, brushing and grooming sessions should be done on a frequent basis. It is recommended to wash your senior dog with the right shampoo and to have them examined by a veterinarian if they develop any skin problems.
7. Senior Dogs Comfort Is Important
There are a number of changes that may need to be made in a senior pet’s lifestyle, such as arranging sleeping areas that do not involve stairs, more time spent inside the house, etc.
Therefore it is important to provide senior dogs with spaces where they can rest and socialise, keeping their bodies safe and comfortable. It should be remembered that climbing the stairs will be painful for senior dogs because they may have arthritis (joint issues). For senior dogs that are too heavy to handle and unable to use the stairs, dog ramps can be a useful and practical solution.
8. Spending Time with Senior Dogs Is Important
In some circumstances, spending time with elderly dogs might be upsetting. Of course, it is difficult for dog owners to observe that their dog’s former enthusiasm has vanished and that they no longer desire to play as much as they once did. But you should spend as much time as you can with your senior dog. Spending time with them is the best approach to strengthen the memories made together and lessen any anxiety they could feel when separated from you.
Physical, behavioural, and mental changes are just a few of the changes you can expect as your dog ages. Many of these changes are completely natural signs of ageing, but if you see any worrying symptoms or unexpected changes in your dog’s behaviour, don’t hesitate to call your veterinarian for advice.
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