Caring For Your Elderly Dog
There is a lot of debate over what age a dog is officially elderly. In general, if a dog is over 7 years of age they are considered to be senior, but it varies hugely between different breeds. Small breeds can live up to 20 years old and will not reach old age until their teens, whereas larger dogs age a lot quicker and can reach middle age at around 7 or 8 years. If your dog is entering this stage of their life then you might want to think about a few things that will make things easier for them. There are lots of things you can do to care for your elderly dog, here are some things to bear in mind.
Do Not Over Exercise
Your elderly dog will still need to get regular exercise in order to keep their weight down and stay healthy. However, it’s important to be aware that overly strenuous exercise can make them ache and put their body under too much pressure. Instead of doing one large walk, if your dog is struggling then try and walk them little and often. For example, three 20 minute walks per day. Your dog’s joints are likely to deteriorate with age and may not be able to take as much heavy exercise. A lot of elderly dogs get arthritis and need to be careful with exercise.
A Senior Diet
You can get special diets that are specifically designed for older dogs. They have similar ingredients to normal dog food, just with a few added extra ingredients that can help with old age. Older dogs can be less active and therefore their metabolism changes, so adjusting their diet can help. Senior dog food contains ingredients that are easy to digest and promote healthy joints. Take care when switching your dog’s food, do it gradually and consult your vet.
Get A Comfy Bed
All dogs love a comfy bed, but for older dogs it can make a big different. Having a soft, cosy bed to curl up in is better for their joints and keeps them more comfortable. It’s also important that they have a nice warm bed, as older dogs sometimes have less ability to effectively control their body temperature.
Watch Their Weight
Obesity is very dangerous for older dogs, if they are too heavy then their body might not be able to cope. Dogs that are overweight can sometimes die two years prematurely, so it really does make a huge difference. Keep an eye on your dog’s weight and try to weight them regularly. Dramatic weight loss in elderly dogs can also be a warning sign of various illnesses.
Look After Their Teeth
It’s especially important to look after your dog’s teeth as they get older. Plaque can build up quickly and lead to gum disease. Try and clean their teeth regularly and maintain good oral hygiene.
Book Regular Check Ups
Take your elderly dog to the vet regularly to get their general health check. This is also a good way to keep a record of their weight and spot any potential problems.
Watch Out For Common Conditions In Older Dogs
There are lots of conditions that are particularly common in elderly dogs such as arthritis, cataracts, skin problems, cancer, heart and kidney problems. Check your dog for signs of any of these problems so that they can get the treatment they need.
Consistent Daily Routine
Having a consistent daily routine if possible can really help older dogs feel more at ease. That way they know what to expect and can feel settled in their home. Older dogs can sometimes suffer with bladder control issues so you might want to think about giving them toilet breaks more often.