Caring for my Senior dog
Even though your family friend may be taking life at a slower pace, there's no reason why the later years in life shouldn't be some of the most rewarding. With regular veterinary attention, daily care and proper nutrition, your senior dog can still look forward to a bright future of walkies, tummy rubs, great meals and hugs!
He’s still at the heart of the family and - at heart - he’s still up for anything! With regular visits to say hello to the vet, and lots of loving care, your best friend can look forward to years of walkies, tummy rubs, great meals and hugs yet to come!
Just like the rest of us as he reaches senior status, a dog’s senses will eventually slowly start to deteriorate, affecting his vision, hearing, taste and smell. Most surprisingly his appetite may also decrease too, leaving him thinner. None of this will affect how affectionate and huggable he is though!!!
With all of this it's can still be hard to guess the age of a dog, especially with the considerable differences between breeds. Generally speaking, small dogs live the longest, while large breeds have in comparision shorter lifespans (a Great Dane is considered 'old' at six). At the same time, like us, lifestyle also has an affect on how long a particular dog will live such as diet, exercise and medical history,
The signs of ageing
To help you the most practical way to tell if your dog is ageing is simply to observe his or her behaviour and appearance. Bascially, how old does your dog act, look, and feel? Though its not always easy to know what you are looking for, so here are a few pointers:
- Decreased energy levels
- Stiffness in the joints.
- Rougher and thinner coat.
- Tooth and gum conditions - look out for food being dropped, or excessive salivation and pawing at the mouth.
- Warts or fatty lumps (Get them checked out by your vet)
- Excessive thirst and frequent or uncontrolled trips to the loo.
- Confusion or failure to recognise surroundings.
- Decreased appetite.
- Depression or disobedience.
- A hazy, bluish cast on the eyes, which is normal and usually does not hinder the eyesight. However, the hazy, whitish growth of cataracts can lead to blindness. Your vet can help you distinguish the difference.
- A tendency to sleep more during the day but sleep less at night.
- Weight gain - a particular problem amongst senior dogs.
If you start spotting some of the signs of old age, don’t worry it doesn't mean you have to wrap your best friend in cotton wool. It just means you might want to you should think about altering your routine slightly and taking a few precautions.
Proper medical care - its important to keep a eye on your older dogs health so regular checkups with the vet are really important . Also, you should also try to making a note of any warning signs you might observe and let your vet know when you see them.
Good exercise - because obesity and arthritis are two of the most common problems experienced by older dogs, its really important to maintain a regular exercise routine – though you probably do this already!!..
Daily routine – keeping a consistent daily routine is really important to your older dog's physical and emotional health: it’s comforting and reassuring for them to know when they are getting fed or walked!
Healthy skin and coat – we probably don’t need to tell you this but as part of your regular routine, its good to get out the grooming brush once a week – and to make time for baths: which, lets be honest are great fun and an opportunity to get close and soak each other too!
Healthy teeth and gums – as dogs get older they are more prone to gum disease and tartar build up, so keep up with the regular visits to your doggy-dentist (the vet).
Like us, as dogs get older they attend to be less active and also have slower metabolism: so staying slim isn’t as easy so fewer calories in their diet is key. A diet with high quality, easy to digest protein is more important than ever in helping maintain overall body condition.
A good senior diet, should provide concentrated, high quality protein be low in fat, and contain easy to digest carbohydrates for energy. At the same time your older dogs diet should contain key minerals support ageing joints, and vitamins, along with protein, which will help fight infections that the body may become vulnerable to as the immune system declines.