Owning a dog is one of the best things ever, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its problems. One of the worst phases of having a dog part of the family is watching them become older. The majority of canines are classed as senior dogs at around seven years of age, possibly even sooner for a larger breed.
As your dog gets older
Things you can expect when your dog ages are pretty noticeable – His senses begin to dull, he might gain weight, and his mobility will slow down. You will notice things about his behaviour, temperament and habits as he ages. Imagine if your senior dog could talk – these are some of the things he would like you to understand about getting older.
No 1. I don’t hear or see as well as I used to
Your dog probably isn’t just ignoring your call. He might not have heard you. As he ages, hearing can diminish, but you often don’t notice until the hearing loss is quite severe. You might notice this when you approach the dog. If he hasn’t heard you, he may be started and aggressive as he shows his surprise. Teach your pet hand signals so that he understands commands even when he can’t hear you. When you’re playing in the park, you might have thrown the ball straight in front of him, but if his sight is suffering, he simply won’t see the ball at all. You can help his weakening vision by clearing rooms of clutter so that he can more easily find his water and food bowls as he moves around.
No 2. I often get quite anxious
Quite often, older dogs have a more difficult time when stressed. You might find that your canine is becoming more clingy when you have visitors or more irritated around other dogs. Separation anxieties can also arise in senior dogs. Your first step with an anxious dog is to rule out any medical issues causing pain. Stick to a daily routine, feeding and walking at the same times each day and of course, be very patient with your senior dog.
No 3. I feel the cold a lot more than I used to
As a dog ages, it’s more difficult for him to regulate his body temperature. Previously, he would happily remain outdoors for long periods, now he prefers his warm, cosy bed or lying snuggled next to the radiator. A doggy jumper will help to keep away those chills outdoors.
No 4. I’m not able to groom myself quite as well these days
Just as humans experience changes in their skin and hair as they age, so do our pets. Coat fur becomes coarser and skin more fragile. Supplements can often help to alleviate some of these symptoms and give frequent brushing to remove any dead hair. Your pooch will also need to have his nails trimmed more often as they can become brittle. Of course, he’s not as active, so he won’t file down his nails doing outdoor activities. Remember to clean your pet’s teeth, too, to prevent any gum disease.
No 5. I often get confused and can’t always remember the rules
As our dog’s age, one common aspect to look out for is the loss of cognitive skills. He might not recognise people he is usually familiar with, or it could be more difficult for him to easily remember tasks he has previously done. Toilet accidents are often more frequent, and your senior dog may appear to be lost in a location he is usually familiar with. If you notice behaviour changes or your dog acts in a strange manner, first of all, get him checked out by the Vet. If it is just down to your dog getting older, help him when he gets lost or confused and of course, always be patient with him.
As your dog ages, there are, of course, other things to look out for. Ensure that his diet meets all of his nutritional requirements as his appetite may decrease. Joint pain and arthritis are more common in senior dogs, which means they can’t move around as fast or tackle the stairs. He might even start barking at apparently nothing at all. These are all things that you need to keep an eye out for as your dog approaches his golden years to make sure he is as content and happy as possible.
Further articles from Derek chambers regarding older dogs