How to Take Care of Your Senior Dog when He Starts to Show Signs of Age
One day, your dog will not be able to be agile, to go for hiking, to actively play in the park or eat a lot like when she was a puppy. As painful as thinking about this might be, as a dog owner you need to be prepared to help them be comfortable and safe in their last stages of life.
Here are 11 things to look out for when your dog is aging.
Loss of hearing is one of the most common conditions affecting our senior dogs. It can endanger your dog from accidents as he cannot respond to alarms and warning. It can have a significant impact on your dog quality of life if left untreated. Hearing loss can begin as age progresses and your furry friend will need a great amount of care, so the more prepared you are in advance, the less stressful this might be for your whole family.
Less Mobility and Activity
Is your dog still active, does he sleep a lot, lazy to get up for walks? If yes, staying active and connected to you can help maintain his good physical and emotional health and cognitive function. Usually if your dog is no longer active he is more likely to suffer from physical disabilities, which can make getting out difficult. You dog can develop Arthritis or Obesity and might require a dog stroller for his walks. One very useful gadget that can help you keep tabs of the amount of exercise your dog needs or is getting is a fitness tracker like Fitbark and will support you maintain your dog healthy living.
Disease, infection, injury, and exposure to toxic agents can damage your dog’s eyes as years go by causing pain, redness, watery eyes, and reduced vision. Although you could benefit your aged dogs from this by taking more time to care for their vision.
You probably noticed that your dog’s vision is changing. These changes are a normal part of aging, but as he age, he is at a higher risk of developing age-related eye diseases and conditions. These include: age-related macular degeneration, cataract, low vision and dry eye etc. Consult your vet for a relief medication and advice make sure their eyes are checked every year several times by the vet.
First understand that your dogs’ view of the world is going to change. A partially blind dog needs something to tell him that he is approaching an obstacle. Your senior dog can use sound, whiskers, or some other form of early warning device to avoid an obstacle. Just as a blind person needs a walking stick if your dogs’ sight has really deteriorated you might need to get a hoop harness around its eyes for guidance. This does not change the natural ageing process, but it is more comfortable to use to avoid accident for your dog.
Bad breath can be an embarrassing problem for any dog owner. However, senior dogs are more prone to bad breath due to their susceptibility to a number of medical and dental conditions.
Another common cause is dry mouth which is often age related, as your dog gets older the saliva glands produce less saliva which act as a natural mouth cleaner. Little saliva in a dry mouth allows anaerobic colonies to grow quickly causing bad breath. These conditions develop when plaque and bacteria build up between the teeth and under the gums.
If you notice these symptoms in your senior dog, take her to a vet for checkup as soon as possible, bad breath can be a symptom of underlying serious health issue. Regular cleanings can help your dogs’ teeth and gums stay healthy.
More visits to the vet
Be familiar with your senior dog full medication list, and keep track of any changes. She has no appetite, sleep most of the day and becomes lazy than normal be concerned. Our time with our pets is precious and often scarce and during their senior years it should be more as they are fading away. When you see a vet for your dog checkup, feel confident, do not be stressed, ask questions and express your needs as you are the primary care giver.
Introduce special diet
Poor eating habits can lead to weight loss or no appetite for your senior dog. Eating right and staying fit are important no matter your dog’s age. As your dog gets older their bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health. A lot of senior dogs owners are advised to use low sodium diets which help preserve their dogs kidneys from overworking and lower the blood pressure too. In addition, senior dogs need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain strong healthy bone. They also need to eat more fiber-rich foods to avoid constipation for a healthier old age welbeing.
A lot of stress
No matter how hard you try to avoid it, a difficult senior dog will drive you nuts. When you see your dog showing signs of wear and tear know it has started aging. They are thing you can do to protect your dog from the damaging effects of this changes as stress can take a toll on his health.
Try to give your dog regular walks and activities, play with him to make him active and he will age gracefully. You can also relieve stress by regular grooming and massage, it will relax him and keep him clean. You do not have to take him to a vet for this, just do a simple technique with your fingers, rub and pat him through his coat.
Compared to younger puppies whose main goal is to feed them regularly to increase their weight and have enough energy for their daily activities, seniors dogs need to keep their weight down. With age, muscle mass naturally decreases, and appetite reduces, putting older adults at risk of being underweight, but due to limited mobility, unintentionally they gain weight. Loss of activities can lead to obesity. Go easy on food intake and treats to avoid overweight dogs, get toys for a bit of exercise. Walking your dog with a harness and retractable lead can come in handy even for a few minutes daily.
Increase weight in senior dogs is through calorie-dense foods, because of reduced appetite and other factors, it is often difficult for them to eat a larger volume of food. By choosing foods with a higher calorie-to-volume ratio, senior dogs can significantly boost calorie intake without having to eat more.
Does your dog have body odour? Are you regularly grooming your pet and taking care of their nails and teeth? As they age you need to do it more frequent to eliminate bad breath, stinking body odour and teeth decay because of less saliva in the mouth. A rinsekit shower will be ideal for a quick shower bath while outdoor to keep your dog fresh.
Unwarranted behavior change
Is your dog driving you crazy? For example, a senior dog may frequently become enraged, or impatient and impossible to please, tearing your furniture and his toys, remember age and illness can intensify weird behavior change in some unpleasant ways.
Growing old is something every pet owner must face when their pet age, it should be dealt with calmly and in a relaxed manner. All too often you might see your dog being hostile, unpleasant, awkward, and this can lead to resentment and disgust but keep him calm. It will take time and lots of work and patience as he ages.
Coat and skin changes
As our dogs get older, their coat undergoes a number of changes. How the skin ages will depend on several factors: their activity level, breed, diet, and heredity. Sun exposure is the main cause of skin damage due to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) light, which breaks down elastic tissue (elastin) in the skin and causes the skin to stretch, sag, wrinkle, and become blotchy, occasionally with pre-cancerous growths and even skin cancer. As you groom your dog over years learn to run your hand on its body to feel if he has any lumps.
For a smooth coat you can supplement, give multivitamins for a healthy diet and when grooming try using nail grinders instead of clippers to avoid cutting in wrong places and hurting your dog as nails become hard when they age.
Having lived with your furry friend from a puppy to senior years, the bond has really grown, it will be painful seeing her suffer but love and care will make her final years joyful and memorable.
As a dog owner with an abiding interest in health issues and particularly, healthy aging am passionate and keen on changes our pets experience when aging and how to have an easy time together as outlined in the article.
You can share with us your experience on taking care of an aging dog.