It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since you brought your puppy home. You’ve been through a lot with one thing and another and suddenly one day you look and notice that his muzzle is grey,he sleeps a lot more than he used to and takes just that little bit longer to get to his feet from laying down. Just like us they slow down and have aches and pains.
Vets tend to say that a senior dog is from around 7 years of age so now is the time to pay even more attention to your dogs needs which will be different from when he was a youngster.
All dogs thrive on structure and routine – even more so the older ones.
- Take him for a good check up at your vet.At least twice a year if not more – his health can alter far quicker and underlying health problems can be addressed Still exercise him daily but do check that you are not expecting too much of him. Let him set his own limits.
- Check his hearing – a lot of people think that they are being ignored when in fact the dogs hearing has deteriorated.You may to introduce hand signals to convey simple commands.
- Be sure they are always consistent, obviously different from other signals, and visible from a distance.
- Changes in eye sight –like us dogs can develop cataracts. Dogs can function well with sight loss in familiar surroundings as long as you avoid rearranging your furniture. Assuming he hasn’t gone deaf as well
- you can help guide him around with your voice.
- Changes in sleeping habits – your old friend will probably sleep longer and deeper so avoid startling him – gently rouse him by stroking him. We don’t like being woken up with a start so why should he!
- Stiff joints – degenerative joint disease can occur all over his body,not just his hips.Maintaining a good regular exercise regime is important ( as long as you don’t over do it) There are lots of supplements that can help your dogs mobility as well as alternative therapies such as acupuncture,hydrotherapy and massage. You can even get pushchairs for your dog as well as “wheels”. Magnetic collars can be very effective for arthritis and joint stiffness.
- Increased sensitivity to changes in temperature – he may want to keep changing where he sleeps so have nice thick soft beds placed in different locations so that he can nap in comfort and to avoid getting callouses on elbows.
- Visitors and children – don’t forget that your older dog may feel a bit crankier than they used to and may not enjoy having rowdy visitors! Do remind children to be respectful of the dog ( regardless of his age) and if he wants to take himself off for some peace and quiet let him go but make sure he is comfortable. Children must be supervised around all dogs.
- Dietary changes – as your dog ages his calorific and protein requirements may well alter so discuss this with your vet. There are prescription diets available to help dogs with kidney problems,obesity,skin problems etc He may also need supplements for dry skin and coat – fish oils are excellent for coat and skin but do check with your vet before administering or introducing anything new.
- Avoid letting your dog gain weight. Excess weight can put strain on joints and internal organs. Keeping him trim will keep him healthy and comfortable in the years ahead.
- Don’t discipline your dog for age related behaviours – he can’t help it if he has an accident. You need to be more vigilant and watch for signs that he need to relieve himself.
- Do make sure that he can do stairs easily – older dogs can get unsteady going up and down so if in doubt have a baby gate and supervise him going up and down to avoid any nasty tumbles.
- Keep his mind and body as sharp as you can! Don’t forget to play with him in short bursts .Take him on shorter walks to keep him active but don’t push him too hard. Watch for signs of over exertion and signs that he is getting over tired – heavy breathing and panting is one sign.
- A lot of people think that bringing a puppy in to the house will make an old dog feel young again.While this may be true in some cases, remember that your senior dog may not be able to handle stress or new situations very well, and a puppy brings new levels of activity and changes to routine that affect everyone.
Finally your aging dog will start to feel the cold more so getting him a nice jumper or onsie will really benefit him especially the joints etc just as it does with humans
Your aging dog deserves your unflagging affection, understanding and love. As you continue to care for him, remember that you are giving back to him as much as he has been giving you.
Article curtsey of TipTopDogSchool