Caring For Ageing Dog
As your dog gets older, there are some things that you need to take into account. There are specific needs of a senior dog as opposed to their younger counterparts. But when is your dog considered a senior? This depends on genetics, nutrition and environment, as these three elements do impact how your pup ages.
As a basic guide, larger breed dogs age quicker than small breed dogs. For example, a large breed dog would be considered senior at around 5-6 years old, and small breeds will not reach their twilight years until 10-11 years of age.
Some health issues naturally occur as your dog ages. Many older dogs develop some form of arthritis which affect the way your dog feels and moves. This health condition can severely impact your dog’s quality of life and the way it walks and plays. Other life-threatening conditions such as cancers, heart, liver and kidney diseases are common in aging canines. Your dog’s dental health can also impact on your dog’s overall wellbeing.
But what are the best ways to care for your senior dog? Below are the top 5 ways in which you can help to maintain your dog’s health and wellbeing for the long haul.
1. Schedule Regular Vet Visits
The minimum vet visits for a senior dog is yearly, but when problems are present, more frequent appointments can be beneficial. Establishing a relationship with your veterinarian can help to maintain your dog’s ongoing health and detect problems early. If your dog has arthritis, then anti-inflammatory injections and joint care products can help keep pain at bay. Make sure you ask your vet for a body condition report at each appointment. This report also determines whether your dog is over or underweight. You can use this information to adjust their diet accordingly. Many diseases can be hidden, and body weight is often a sign of underlying health issues. Regular vet visits can be expensive, but it is much cheaper in the long run to prevent disease than treat it.
2. Feed Your Dog A High-Quality Diet
Every dog and especially senior dogs have different nutritional needs. Sometimes longevity is simply a matter of good genetics and good luck! But some basics nonetheless apply to all dogs. Diet is an important factor in your dog’s health. Maintaining a healthy body weight will keep your dog in shipshape condition and minimise some preventable diseases. Dog’s that carry extra weight around the middle often suffer from severe and painful back conditions. Senior dogs require 20 percent fewer calories to maintain the same weight as younger ones.
If your senior dog has a health condition such as heart or liver disease, then a special diet is required to keep them in their best health. These conditions are generally managed by a diet lower in sodium, fat and calories. It’s important to read food labels and distinguish which foods are best suitable for your dog’s age. A slow feeder lick bowl is ideal for senior dogs that eat to fast.
Very old dogs tend to stop gaining weight and instead start losing weight, in turn, requiring more calories. In those cases, aging dogs often have a decreased appetite and possibly have difficulty chewing or swallowing. Increasing the fat content of the diet can increase the calorie content and may improve protein efficiency. Your vet can help you choose the best food for your dog, so make sure to ask on your next vet visit!
3. Keep Them Fit and At Their Ideal Body Weight
If your dog is overweight, this can lead to preventable diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and even cancer. The diet is only part of the battle when it comes to keeping your dog healthy. Regular exercise is also just as important. Your aging dog may not be able to walk as far or play as hard as they used to, so take it easy. Maybe shorten your walks or have several shorter activities throughout the day.
4. Take Care Of Your Dog’s Mouth
Dental diseases are prevalent in domestic dogs from the age of 2-3 years onwards. It is vital to maintain your dog’s teeth and gums to reduce the risk of expensive medical bills later on. To eliminate tooth loss, periodontal disease, bad breath and excess plaque build-up, you can opt for annual professional teeth cleaning performed by your vet. Alternatively, you can use doggy tooth care products such as dog toothbrushes, dental wipes and dental chews. You can find a variety of dental care products at https://k9traveller.com/
5. Keep Them Entertained
Toys are an essential part of a senior dog’s life. They can be used in various ways for different results, depending on your dog’s needs. It is not only important to keep them entertained but also active, even in their copious amounts of downtime. Slow-feeder food mats and treat puzzles are great for play and also act to assist with weight loss if your pooch is carrying a few extra pounds in their old age. There are plenty of interactive toys out there like WickedBone and WickedBall, targeted at senior dogs that do not require too much stamina. Rubber chew toys can also help with dental hygiene!
Keeping Your Senior Dog Happy & Healthy
It is sad to see your pet get older. But when you start to see the signs that they are struggling with everyday tasks, there is plenty of support and aids to make their life more comfortable and easier. Make sure that you try your best to keep their health checks up to date and care for them physically to ensure they live their best life! Simple things like dental cleaning, regular exercise and a proper diet make all the difference in your senior dog’s life. It will not only have them feeling better, but they are likely to live that little bit longer too!