Dogs are great companions, whatever their age. Whilst they offer us endless loyalty and affection, they also rely on us for care throughout their puppy days and into old age.
However, as dogs get older their care requirements change. They are less energetic and sometimes more vulnerable to illnesses and diseases.
But caring for an elderly dog needn’t be difficult, and Petplan has all you need to know about older dogs and their care…
When is your dog considered ‘old’?
There is no singular answer for when a dog is considered ‘senior’ as some breeds will age faster than others, particularly bigger breeds. Seven years of age is usually considered a rough guide for middle age!
Many factors such as diet, exercise and medical history also affect your dog’s aging process. But it’s important to remember that as your dog slows down (and potentially puts on a few pounds), their temperament often becomes calmer and these older years usually prove most rewarding for owners.
Tips for caring for your senior dog
Just as people age and appreciate those little comforts in life, so too will your dog. Whilst there will be necessary adjustments to your pet’s lifestyle, it’s important to keep a regular routine which will hugely benefit your dog’s physical, mental and emotional health.
Some of these changes in lifestyle include:
- Exercise – Although your dog will be considerably slower than their youthful self, it’s still important to ensure they still get the right amount of exercise to avoid obesity and other medical problems. A gentle walk each day will help keep your dog fit, along with mental exercises such as teaching your dog a new trick or playing with a new toy!
- Food and nutrition – As your dog gets older, their nutritional requirements will change, largely due to their less active nature. Older dogs therefore don’t need as many calories, so feed them little and often with easily digestible foods such as high quality protein. Remember, all changes to diet should be made gradually
- Health – Older dogs need more regular health checks as any illness is more serious with age. Routinely weigh your dog every two months for both weight gain and weight loss, as the latter can also be a sign of illness. With Petplan’s Covered for Life® dog insurance, you can be reassured in the knowledge that should they get ill, they will be covered even in old age. Dental sticks and toys can also ensure your dog’s teeth are clean
- Grooming – It’s important to keep your older dogs well-groomed and their skin and coat in the best condition possible. Be sure to check the length of your dog’s nails too, and if you suspect they’re too long or causing your dog pain, take them to the vet to be trimmed
- Sleep – Provide your dog with a soft comfy bed, preferably somewhere warm , quiet and accessible without climbing stairs. Your dog’s joints may start to ache with age, so a softer bed will ensure maximum comfort and relieve pain, especially for dogs with arthritis! Always make sure there is a bowl of water nearby so your dog needn’t walk too far to rehydrate
Symptoms to look out for
If you notice any of the following symptoms occur, or if anything else regarding your dog is worrying you, contact your vet for advice and support:
- Loss of appetite
- Smelly breath
- Weight loss
- Tiredness (especially after only a small amount of exercise)
- Higher water intake
- Problems with bladder control
What is your favourite thing about caring for elderly pets? Tell us about your experiences in the comments below…