How to Care for Your Senior Dog

As with humans, dogs also begin to slow down with age.

They might want to spend more time relaxing, and they might also put on a little weight. Some dogs will get friendlier and want more attention, where others will withdraw and become grumpier.

Growing older can cause your dog some anxiety as they might not be able to see or hear as well as they used to, and they might be slower to remove themselves from danger. The question is then: how do you ensure your dog’s wellbeing as they age? Let’s explore.

What Happens to Your Dog as it Ages?

old german shepherd

As the body begins to slow down, it uses less energy which can lead to weight gain. Although some dogs do end up losing weight due to illness or digestive issues.

The skin becomes less elastic, and their coat might go grey and lose its shine. Their hearing and sight can also deteriorate, and so you might find that you need to repeat the commands to your dog a few times before they comply.

The muscles and bones get weaker, as does the immune system, and so your dog is less able to fight off infections. That being said, old age does not automatically mean ill health for your dog; older dogs can still lead happy, active lives.

When is a Dog Classed as Old?

senior german shepherd

This is debatable because there is thought to be some variation depending on the breed of the dog. However, as a general rule, a dog is considered ‘middle-aged’ at around seven years old.

Some dogs will slow down much earlier than that, and some never will; it can depend on the temperament and the personality of the dog too.

Feeding an Older Dog

There are a lot of dog foods marketed to older or senior dogs. Ideally, you should look for ones that are lower in calories to offset the risk of weight gain.

Dietary changes should be made gradually to avoid upsetting your dog’s system. If your dog is losing weight quickly, then you should schedule an appointment with your vet just to make sure that nothing is wrong. You may want to think about including some supplements into their diet.

For example, Native Pet’s organic pet supplements are designed to aid in a range of issues your dog might experience, from joint care to allergies to bladder issues.

Common Problems to Look Out for

dog arthritis

Joint function deteriorates with age, and unfortunately, arthritis is common in older dogs. Keeping their weight down and encouraging consistent gentle exercise is key to alleviating the symptoms.

Strenuous activity can cause them more pain. Don’t force them to go out on days when they seem to be in more pain. Make sure they have a soft bed; you could also try massages or hydrotherapy. You might want to consult your vet as there are some medications that can reduce your dog’s pain and improve their quality of life.

Some dogs will struggle with bladder control as they age. This could either be because they are a little senile and they’ve forgotten their house training, or they could be suffering from a leaky bladder. Unfortunately, little can be done from your perspective as an owner except perhaps putting training mats down. Otherwise, it is all about getting them to a vet for a diagnosis and treatment options.

Some of the problems that your dog may encounter as it ages might require surgery to fix.

While modern anaesthetics are generally considered safe, there are always risks involved. Inform your vet of your concerns. Some vets will recommend a blood test first to check your dog’s general health, and it can let them know whether or not going under anaesthetic is considered riskier for your dog.

Dogs, like humans, will experience a few changes in the brain as they age.

Sometimes these changes can be akin to Alzheimer’s, and they can affect your dog’s behavior similarly. So, if your dog begins to act strangely, if it seems dull, disinterested in the things it used to love, or if it simply seems confused, it is worth seeing your vet.

There are some treatment options available; however, other disorders can produce these symptoms too, which is why testing is important.

To Conclude

It is not always possible to slow down the effects of time or prevent health issues from occurring but modifying your care of your dog can certainly help to slow down these events.

Early detection is also key in ensuring that your dog’s health issues don’t worsen. Be sure to consult the list of common problems above so that you know what to look out for. The health and wellbeing of your dog should be a priority for you, especially as they get older and more fragile.

Last Updated on November 18, 2021 by Shepped Team

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