Taking care of old dogs sound difficult but there are only a few adjustments needed to do it correctly.
Dogs are considered old or senior when they turn seven. When your dog reaches that age, you should pay attention to his health. Consider changing his routine and diet to help prolong his life.
Do you have a senior dog? Or are you planning to adopt one? Check out these tips on taking care of old dogs!
#1 A change in diet is recommended when taking care of old dogs
The needs of your dog’s body change as he grows older. Puppies need puppy food. Adult dogs need adult dog food. Senior dogs, on the other hand, need special geriatric food.
Old dogs also experience a decline in organ functions. This makes them susceptible to different diseases. With their energy levels declining and their metabolism slowing down, they are very prone to weight gain.
Generally, senior dogs need a diet with low-carbohydrate, higher-fiber, and higher-quality protein sources. Their glucose metabolism also slows down. This affects their memory and the decision-making ability.
But since old dogs often suffer from various age-related health conditions, these issues need to be considered as well. For example, diabetic dogs need a high-fiber and low-fat diet. Consult a veterinarian to determine the diet that best fits your dog.
#2 Your senior dog care plan must include adjusting exercise routines
Although they won’t be as active as they were during their young adult days, old dogs still need exercise. Old dogs feel more lively and young when they stay active – unless they are suffering from bone problems and age-related conditions, including arthritis.
Obesity can lead to diabetes. For this reason, helping your dog remain active is a recommended part of your senior dog care plan. Giving your dog adequate exercise helps improve his metabolism.
#3 Record changes in your old dog’s routine, diet, behavior, or any changes in his body
Not all physical and behavioral changes occur because of aging. Some owners associate weight loss, lack of appetite, intolerance, and lethargy with old age but that is not always the case. Intolerance could be a sign of kidney problems. Weight loss and lack of appetite are symptoms of many dog diseases.
Keeping a record of your senior dog’s daily routine and notable physical and behavioral changes should help you and the veterinarian determine if something is going wrong with him. Doing this enables early detection of potentially deadly diseases and conditions.
#4 Supplements help boost care for your old dog
Many veterinarians recommend giving old dogs some health supplements. The three most common supplements vets recommend for senior dogs are essential fatty acids, glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate, and probiotics.
- Essential fatty acids
Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids make dogs’ coat and skin healthier and shinier. Not only do EFAs make senior dogs look good. These supplements also help improve the brain function and boost the immune system. Dogs cannot produce their own EFAs so mixing them in your senior dog’s food is recommended.
- Glucosamine with chondroitin sulfate
Old dogs often suffer from joint pains. Glucosamine and chondroitin help improve joints. Glucosamine has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce the pain and regenerate the cartilage. The chondroitin helps lubricate the joints.
Old age, stress, diseases, certain medications and many other things can decrease the levels of good bacteria in your dog’s gut. Your dog’s digestive system contains up to 80% of his immune defenses. A drop in the good bacteria population can cause great damage to the digestive system and other parts of your dog’s body. For this reason, probiotics, which help maintain healthy levels of good bacteria in your dog’s gut, are highly-recommended for senior dogs. These live microorganisms also help get rid of the bad bacteria and boost your dog’s immune system to help him fight infections and auto-immune diseases.
#5 Bi-annual routine check-ups are a good idea when taking care of old dogs
A senior dog needs to see the veterinarian twice a year even if your pet seems healthy. Many diseases do not manifest with symptoms until they reach a critical stage. Do not wait for that to happen. You can treat diseases when they are detected at early. Not only is the prognosis good, treatment is often cheaper during the early stage.
The veterinarian may also request routine blood tests to check your dog’s blood values and provide information about your senior dog’s organ function. Additional laboratory tests and physical examinations may be done to determine if your dog needs changes in diet, routine, and lifestyle.
#6 Make your home comfortable for your senior dog
Arthritis is a common problem in senior dogs. Putting ramps in your home is helpful especially if your senior dog is showing signs of the condition. Ramps give your senior dog easy access to elevated areas, such as beds and sofas.
Beds that are specially-designed for arthritic dogs are also available in many pet shops. It’s also a nice idea to get your dog a heated-dog bed during the cold season.
Toe grips and carpets also help your old dog avoid slipping on the floor.
#7 You can also take care of old dogs by getting them lots of toys
Toys are not only for youngsters. Oldies love them too! There are many dog toys that can keep your senior dog busy and entertained. Food puzzles and Kong toys stimulate your dog’s brain while helping him lose weight.
#8 Brush your senior dog’s teeth regularly
Brush your dog’s teeth at least once every week. This probably sounds silly for some dog owners. But the truth is, neglecting your dog’s dental health can lead to different health issues – and some of those conditions are potentially serious.
Dental problems can be painful for your senior dog forcing him to lose interest in eating. His teeth and jaws may also become agonizing. Your dog may also develop abscess that can potentially burst on his cheeks and jaws. For these reasons, keeping your dog’s teeth in good condition is always a good idea.
#9 Enjoy life with your senior dog
Senior dogs are special dogs. They are loyal, wise, and full of love. The best way to take care of your senior dog is to give him the love and attention he needs.
Go to the beach with him. Take him to the dog spa or on an awesome adventure. Your senior dog loves your company. But he will love it even more if you do things together instead of keeping him in the house all day.
If you have had your senior dog since he was a wee pup, enjoy his last months with you as much as you can. If you are planning to adopt one, then this is the time to let him experience what being loved is all about.