We often want to learn everything about training our puppies when we first get them and are so keen that they stay playful while young. However we often neglect the part where they grow old and need our care. It is very important to know that dogs grow old just like us, and they will need extra care when they get old. Learn how to care for a senior dog.
Let’s introduce the age at which dogs are considered senior first. Large sized dogs tend to have shorter life spans than small breed dogs, but we can say that small breed dogs are considered senior by the age of 10-11 years and large breed dogs are considered senior by the age of 6-8 years.
What can you do to help your senior dog?
- Scheduled vet visits
You need to upgrade the normal checkups to twice a year instead of once to detect diseases better.
- Change in diet
Senior dogs need to have food that is more easily digested, and high quality, covering all needed nutrients, and to keep them at the ideal weight. Read FAQs about dog nutrition.
- Weight control
A senior dog can easily gain weight as their energy levels decrease and thus their exercise decreases. Read about the dangers of dog obesity.
- Parasite control
Senior dogs tend to have decreased immune systems thus they find it harder to fight.
- Environmental considerations
Sometimes we will need to alter their lifestyles a bit to suit their needs. For example keep them indoors for longer periods and keeping them away from stair as they may fall.
What are some behavioral changes that can happen?
Before detecting any physical change, you will be able to see some behavioral changes that you will need to pay attention to when your dog reaches a senior age. The detection of behavioral changes can help diagnose some physical diseases that might occur later in life. Some of these behavioral changes are:
- Increased aggressive/protective behavior
- Increased anxiety
- Change in sleep cycles
- Increased irritability
- Less mobile
- Increased reaction to sounds
What are some warning signs for diseases?
- Kidney diseases
Decreased appetite, increased thirst, increased urination and vomiting.
- Urinary tract disease
Blood in urine and more in house accidents.
- Heart disease
Coughing, hard time breathing and decreased tolerance for exercise.
Favoring one limb over the other, having hard time to jump or climb stairs and decreased activity.
Having a senior dog is no easy task but let’s remember that growing old is a part of a cycle that we cannot avoid.
Written by Farah Khaled
Sources: Pet MD , Cesar’s Way , AVMA.org