It seems as if suddenly the spray of gray whiskers appear on your dog’s muzzle, and his/her hearing is not as sharp. Your dog’s vision clouds as they start to slow down in their daily play and walks. As hard as it is to accept, your beloved dog is now a senior! As a dog ages, there are some changes to their care that will help them enjoy their golden years filled with love.
It is important to remember that aging is not a one-size-fits-all-dogs thing. While one dog at six may start getting fussy over food, another at eight may be stiff and slowing down, while a dog at 12 may still enjoy physical activity.
Hindy Pearson, a certified dog trainer, dog behavior consultant, and pet loss grief support coach who is the source of information behind CaringForASeniorDog.com, stresses to “Pay attention to any changes in behavior or anything physical that you notice, no matter how small, because it seems like a lot of people tend to assume that ‘my dog is getting older so that’s expected.’” When you start seeing that, and no matter how slight it is, it is better to call the vet and get him checked out because the sooner you catch something, the better the chance you have of curing it or at least managing it, and improving their quality of life.
Some Tips to Keep Senior Dogs Happy and Healthy:
Periodic Health and Dental Check-Ups
While it is important to a dog’s health to have periodic physicals, once a dog becomes a senior it is especially good to have their hearing, eyes, teeth, gums, and body-checked to address any possible issues.
As a dog ages, their nutritional needs change, too. While there is a wide variety of foods and treats for senior dogs ranging from pre-packaged to raw, discuss with your vet what type of diet and treats are best for your senior. Be sure to ask him about adding any vitamins and joint supplements as well.
There are lots of ways to have fun! Just because your dog is getting older does not mean s/he wants to stop going for walks or hiking, but it can be challenging for some as the years go by. Pearson notes that all exercises should go according “to each dog’s ability.” She recommends, “If your dog is having difficulty with walking, there are low-impact exercises to do to keep them active for their own happiness and health. It has to be tailored to your dog’s ability. A lot of people feel like if their dog has arthritis, it is not good to walk. But it IS good to walk. Break it up into shorter 10 to15 minute sessions throughout the day. Swimming is great. There are things you can do in the house, like roll a ball instead of throwing it so he still has to walk over to it instead of run…playhide-and-seek, find hidden treats.”