Our pets are definitely our companions for life, and growing old is definitely one of those things that is included in life. Our dogs are no exception to this, as we may notice that our furry companions may change from the young sprightly pups that we used to see them as.
However this just means that you have taken care of your pet well enough to give them such a great and long life. This also means that with age comes change, and this includes the way we care for our dogs.
Because there are all kinds of dog breeds, it also comes to follow that not all pups turn into senior dogs at the same time. Small breeds may be considered old when they reach 10-11 years old, medium breeds may be considered old when they reach the age of 8-10 years and large breeds can be a senior dog much younger than that such as when they reach 5-6 years of age.
It is up to you the owner to notice any change that shows the signs of your four legged companion changing. The first sign you might notice within your dog is when their energy lessens significantly.
The more telling signs could be if you see them developing cataracts in their eyes or hearing problems. This means their organs are slowly shutting down.
Although this is normal with age, it also means that they may be at a higher risk of diseases in relation to the kidneys or liver, or have the tendency to become obese.
To prevent this from happening and keeping them healthy and happy, there is a few things that you may need to change in your care.
#1 Adjust Their Diet
The first thing that must be adjusted would most likely be their diet.
The food that they used to eat when they were puppies are filled with all kinds of things needed for a young and energetic puppy, however now your canine does not spend as much energy as beforehand therefore these same foods might cause them to become obese.
This means that their diet must be changed to specialized dog foods for senior dogs that are lower in fat and calories to match your dog. If your furry friend has any other conditions that may come from aging, it is recommended that you consult your vet to see what kinds of food may cater to this condition.
#2 Maintain Regular Exercise
Although their energy is definitely lower than before, this does not mean that you cut out exercise from their daily activities. Senior dogs would definitely benefit from exercise and will prevent obesity.
The difference would be that the intensity of this exercise must be adjusted in consideration of your dog’s condition. Being patient is important as the stamina of your dog is significantly less than when it was a puppy; so those long walks might have to be shortened to what they can handle.
#3 Frequent Visits to the Vet
Accompanied with this, is going to be an increase of vet visits. As it’s inevitable with age, frequent check ups will ensure that you may be able to catch any possible ailments that your dog might get due to their weakened immune system.
It’s good to visit your veterinarian at least every six months, so your vet will have the chance to adjust the treatment of your dog as soon as possible for anything that may change. This also includes oral health.
#4 Monitor Their Oral Hygiene
Although it’s normal for dogs to be missing teeth, this does not mean this should be left unattended. Visiting the vet at least once a year for dental related issues and professional cleaning is a good idea.
At home, it is also a good to begin brushing their teeth regularly and, although your pet might not like it, dental treats should definitely become a part of your dog care routine.
#5 Keep Up With Their Vaccines
When it comes to vaccines and other kinds of parasite protection, it should definitely be continued, however at this age senior dogs don’t need these as frequently.
The average times for an old dog is around once every 3 years, however double checking with your vet is always a good idea in case your dog requires special attention.
#6 Brush Fur Daily
It’s not just internally, but there will also be other physical changes within your dog that comes with age, such as their fur and coats not being as shiny and healthy as it was before.
Your senior dogs need to be brushed regularly, preferably everyday to prevent any mats or tangles. If not cared for properly, your dog’s skin may end up flaky, dry or irritated. You might also consider changing to more natural shampoos that are not as harsh on your dog’s skin.
#7 Have a Senior Friendly Environment
We also want our furry friends to be as comfortable as possible, so there might be some changes with their living accommodations now that their movements are more restricted due to arthritis.
Actions such as climbing may become difficult for them, so either installing dog ramps that make it easier for your dog to climb, or transferring them downstairs and blocking high places in your home will make it safer for your dog and easier on their joints.
However, despite all these changes in your dog that comes with age, this is still the same furry best friend you’ve always had, and they still deserve all the love and care that you’ve given to them since they were puppies.
Cherish the time that you have with your four legged companions and make their golden years long, fruitful and filled with love.