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How to Look After a Senior Dog

 by jaime on 17 Jul 2014 |
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The first time you realise that your four legged friend is old can be quite an upsetting realisation. Maybe they didn't move when you called them, or perhaps a photograph you took illuminated all those grey hairs and tired eyes? The autumn years for your pooch requires a different level of care, so it's important to learn about the best ways to provide that care.

What breed of dog you own will also determine when they are categorised as 'senior.' Generally, giant breeds have a shorter lifespan than smaller breeds so you can expect them to reach old age sooner. However, your dog's lifestyle - diet, exercise and medical history will also impact on the longevity of your dog.

The best thing to do is to prepare yourself for this transition in both you and your dog's lives and to be on the lookout for changes so you can react quickly.

Signs of old age in dogs
  • Senses begin to deteriorate
  • Appetite may decrease
  • Weight loss - resulting in the shoulders and spine becoming more prominent.
  • Energy levels decrease
  • Slowing down
  • Greying around the face and muzzle
  • Thicker skin
  • Rougher and thinner coat - potentially with bald patches or white hairs.
  • Deafness
  • Cloudy or bluish eyes
  • Excessive thirst
  • Uncontrolled urination
  • Depression
  • Disobediance
  • Confusion
  • Warts, fatty lumps or tumours - check these with your vet.
  • Muscle loss - normal around the hind legs but if it occurs elsewhere, consult your vet.
  • Sleeping more during the day, and less so at night.
  • Arthritis and stiffness - difficulty playing, going up and down stairs, in and out of cars, trouble sleeping comfortably.

  • Best care for senior dogs
    • Make regular trips to the vet and when there always ask for a complete body evaluation.
    • Maintain a regular exercise schedule, but reduce the longevity and intensity of your sessions.
    • Change your dog's diet to one specifically formulated for senior dogs. If your dog has a health condition - consult your vet on ways you can change your dog's diet to suit their health needs.
    • Change your dog's vaccination schedule to every three years.
    • Keep your dog engaged with lots of affection and plenty of toys to keep their minds stimulated and stave off boredom.
    • Installing gates and doors will prevent any arthritic dogs from attempting stairs that they shouldn't.
    • Changing their bedding to suit their needs - plenty of padding for sore joints.
    • Change the treats you give them to suit their older, worn teeth.
    • Get in the habit of checking your dog often for any abnormalities. Look at the ears, mouth, teeth and gums, skin and coat.
    • Maintain your regular flea, worming and tick treatments.
    • Avoid harsh chemicals.
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