When you have a puppy, you don't usually think much about them getting older. This is because we want to enjoy being pet parents and giving pups the attention they need as they grow and prosper. However, puppies do eventually become senior dogs.
Taking care of a senior dog is going to require some extra work and information. After all, many people have never cared for an aging dog before.
This article will help pet parents that want to know how to care for a senior dog and things that they can do to make their dogs happier and healthier in their older years.
When Is a Dog Considered a Senior Dog?
So, pet parents want to know when a dog is considered a senior dog. This is unique to the breed of the canine.
Smaller breed dogs usually age slower than large breed dogs. Small dogs are considered senior when they are around 10 years of age. Giant breeds may be senior around 5 years of age. A large breed dog is senior when they are between 8 and 10 years of age.
Caring For Your Senior Dog: An Overall Guide
There are changes you will notice in your dog as he or she gets older. It may seem distressing to see your dog get older; however, it is imperative to know that these are normal changes. Puppies don't stay pups forever. This guide will help you in taking care of your senior dog.
1. Foods For Senior Dogs
The diet for senior dogs is going to be different than what they ate as puppies. For example, senior dogs tend to gain weight. They are moving less than they did when they were younger. This can be due to aging as many dogs start having pains, health problems, and general tiredness that they didn't have when younger. It is normal for senior dogs not to be as energetic.
Gaining weight as a senior dog is just as unhealthy for them as it is for people. People that gain too much weight are at risk for health conditions. Dogs that are overweight or obese are at higher risk for health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. It is important that senior dogs be given proper nutrition for their bodies to run optimally. If they are overweight, a lower calorie diet will help them with losing weight.
If you aren't sure about what to feed your senior dog, it would be wise to consult with your trusted vet. They will be able to give you advice on a good diet based on your pet's individual health and needs at the time. Their recommendations should be followed very closely. This is because your trusted vet knows your pet's medical history and individual behaviors and they only recommend diets that they feel would benefit your aging dog's health.
Some dog food companies offer unique senior dog blends. Make sure to research your dog's special diet needs before buying anything to ensure that it meets the requirements that they need.
Your dog may want blander or softer foods as they get older. Their tastes and desires can change, and they may not want the same things that they used to. A good tip is to give them different options as a test and watch for their reaction. You know if they want more, that it is likely a hit and your senior dog will enjoy it as an option in their diet.
Overweight senior dogs should lose weight as they are at higher risk for health issues because of age and weight. Getting their weight down can improve their health dramatically. Giving them a healthier and more nutritionally sound diet can help a lot in bringing their body fat percentage down to a more acceptable level. It can also help with their mobility.
2. Senior Dogs Sleep and Lie Down a Lot More
Senior dogs will sleep and lie down a lot more than they used to. This is entirely normal and nothing to worry too much about. Just like people, elderly dogs need more rest. It's important to give them the space and room to sleep and ensure that they have comfortable places to go. Special senior dog beds are available for pet parents that have a picky pet or a pet that needs more support.
3. Decreased Mobility in Senior Dogs
Senior dogs will have decreased mobility as they age. This is not unexpected and nothing to become alarmed about.
Dogs that are aging will not be able to do as much as they did when pups. They may have problems with stairs and high steps. If you notice that your dog is struggling with stairs and steps, you may need to consider a ramp. There are specialized dog ramps that you can get to help them with steps and stairs in and around the home that they have been having difficulty with. If you need a customized one, there are companies that can build one for you according to your needs.
Pet parents of senior dogs may also notice that they are not able to get up and down the same. When waking up from a nap, your dog may have some difficulty with getting up onto all four legs. This may be from dog arthritis that is common in aging pets.
Running and walking may also become slower. They may not be able to run for as long or as fast as they used to. Walking is likely to become slower as well. Do not panic if you notice this trend in your senior dog. Your senior dog will just not be as quick-moving as when they were pups, and that is normal as part of the aging process. Just like humans, dogs get slower and move less as they get older.
Senior dogs may also be less interested in playing. They will usually still want to, but not as often as when they were pups. If they don't feel like playing, don't take it personally. Also, don't push them to do too much. It could cause more fatigue in your pet, and that is something that pet parents don't want. They will let you know when they feel like playing. It will also give you more joy when your senior dog does feel like playing with you.
If you are worried about your senior dog's health, don't be afraid to take them to the vet. They could have underlying health conditions that are making their lives harder. It is possible that there is an underlying condition that could be treated.
4. Senior Dogs See The Vet More Often
In general, senior dogs will visit the vet more than they did when younger. This is just because senior dogs require more care as they get older. The vet will want to monitor their general health and well-being and keep an eye on them for any issues that are common in aging dogs. If your dog has a health condition and is a senior dog, then your vet will probably want to see your dog even more. It is nothing to be alarmed about. Senior dogs needing more visits to the veterinarian is common, and something pet parents should be prepared to handle. The good news is that most veterinarians today understand that pet parents are busy and have busy schedules and they can usually schedule appointments around those busy lifestyles. Some offer later hours or weekend appointments if need be.
5. Senior Dogs Are Sensitive To Temperatures
Senior dogs are sensitive to temperature changes. They may be sensitive to heat or cold more than they ever have before. This is quite common. There are products that you can get to help your dog with sensitivities to temperature. Special dog beds and blankets that are great to help with dogs that need to be warmer or cooler.
So senior dogs being sensitive to heat or cold is nothing to be overly concerned about. It is something that happens to a lot of animals and people, too.
6. Senior Dogs Physical Changes
Aging pets begin to show the signs of their years just like we do. It should not be surprising that your senior dog begins to look a bit older than they used to. It's perfectly normal and nothing to get upset about. Some physical changes in senior dogs that you may notice are their fur will start to get gray hairs. The most noticeable graying in senior dogs is around their eyes and nose. Their eyes may begin to have a foggy appearance. Take note of any whiteness in their eyes as this could be cataracts and cataracts require veterinary care. Another physical sign of an aging dog is that they could start to have skin lumps. Skin lumps are quite common in senior dogs. However, if it seems like it's growing or concerning, it is imperative to get them to the vet to check that it isn't a tumor or cancer.
7. Aging Dogs Have Changing Moods and Tempers
Just like elderly humans, aging dogs can have mood swings. Mood swings can be aggression or just plain old grumpiness. Don't take it too personally if your dog is grumpy. Senior dogs getting grumpy can be from general malaise or irritation. Remember, senior dogs have aches and pains just like elderly humans do. It happens! Your senior dog still loves you very much, they just need to rest and not be bothered so often.
Be careful with aggressive aging dogs and little children. Little children move suddenly, and this could aggravate a dog that is easily alarmed. It is probably best to keep young children away from older dogs that get irritated and aggressive at sudden movements.
Your dog may feel less playful as they get older. This is common and not to be too concerning. Senior dogs love to take naps and relax, and pet parents should encourage this. The more rested your dog is, the better mood they are likely to be in when they wake up.
8. Senses Change in Senior Dogs
Your dogs may lose some of their senses as they age. It is usually only a partial change. Most pet parents have had an elderly relative that has poor hearing. Well, dogs can experience these same things as they age. Vision changes can happen to senior dogs. Many older dogs have diminishing eyesight, but they can still see most things. However, they may still require extra care when they are navigating a new area or when they are on the move. Their hearing may not be as good as when they were pups. They might not be able to hear you call them as well as they used to. Sometimes, you may have to yell louder or move into their line of sight to get their attention. Senior dogs may also lose some of their taste. They may like blander foods as they age. Sometimes, they like softer foods as well.
Their sense of smell can deteriorate somewhat as they get older. Senior dogs may not smell their food or other things like they used to. You may have to guide them to their food more than you used to.
Keep in mind that these are all normal changes in senior dogs. It doesn't mean that there is something terribly wrong with your dog.
9. Tired Bones: Giving Your Senior Canine Extra Comfort
Your senior canine is probably just generally more tired. They love to rest and lie down a lot. They may need a little extra comfort for their tired bones. Extra comfort and supplies can go a long way toward making your dog feel more relaxed and comfortable.
Some supplies that you can get your senior dog are orthopedic beds, heated blankets, dog ramps, and dog stairs. These can all help your aging pet feel more comfortable and relaxed.
The dog ramps are excellent help for dogs with arthritis and other health issues. Their muscle strength is just not what it used to be. General aches and pains can make it hard for them to get around. These can be placed around the home and anywhere that there is an elevation for your dog to walk a little easier and with more support.
Orthopedic dog beds are helpful for senior dogs. You can find them at pet stores and online. These companies make them specifically for aging pets. Dogs that have health conditions that make it hard to get up or that have pains can benefit from an orthopedic dog bed. It could make it less painful for them to get up and down.
10. Senior Dogs Have Stress and Anxiety More Often
Unfortunately, our furry friends do have higher levels of anxiety and stress when they are in their golden years. They will get anxious about things that they may did not get anxious about before. For example, pet parents leaving the house may upset them when it never used to. New surroundings and changes can make them anxious and stressed as well.
Unfortunately, senior dogs can also experience declining memory and function. This happens to humans, too. Declining memory may be shown in dogs in different ways. They may get disoriented in familiar surroundings or forget where they are. It is vital to help your senior dog find their way around and reorient themselves if you know they are experiencing some memory loss. Make sure you are nearby or in their line of sight, especially outdoors.
Senior dogs may also experience incontinence. It can seem disconcerting when your previously house trained pet suddenly starts urinating in the home. However, this is likely due to incontinence that cannot be helped. There are special pads that you can buy for those sorts of emergencies. It could help them and you in the case of urinary incontinence. They may also defecate. Try and be patient and give yourself some handy tools for your aging senior dog. Special incontinence or training pads can make it easier for you to clean up your dog's messes and give them an option if they can't go to the bathroom outdoors anymore. Some dog diapers are available for senior dogs that need them. This may be a good option for pet parents that know they may be gone and their dog may go to the bathroom while they are gone. Dog diapers for senior dogs could be a necessary supply to keep on hand.
Just being close by and soothing them can be helpful when they are stressed and anxious. This gives them something familiar to look to when they are experiencing confusion, as well.
Is There Anything Natural I Can Give My Senior Dog?
There are natural options to help senior dogs with their general aches and pains. Senior dogs can benefit from CBD Oil For Dogs. CBD is made from organic hemp extract and contains no THC. Dogs won't get high from taking CBD. It is an all-natural and organic product that can give your senior dog excellent health benefits. It has been shown to help with anxiety, depression, nausea, and general pain. This means it can assist senior dogs that have been experiencing pain or anxiety in their golden years. Pet parents that want to give their dogs something free of chemicals will be happy to know that CBD is chemical-free and side-effect free.