Whether you’ve just adopted a senior dog, or your own pooch is getting old, they will have different care requirements than those of a younger canine. However, it might not always be obvious when a dog should be classed as being a senior, and it generally depends upon the individual dog.
Is your dog a senior?
Some general guidelines for determining when a dog is senior include the rule that giant breeds age at a faster rate than smaller breeds. For example, when a Great Dane reaches 5 or 6 years of age, they are classed as being senior, in comparison to a Chihuahua who would be classed as middle-aged until they reach 10 or 11 years of age. For large breeds such as Golden Retrievers, they are generally thought to have reached their senior years when they are between 8 and 10 years of age.
The environment a dog is raised in, along with nutrition and genetics can all play a significant role in determining how fast a dog ages, and when a dog reaches its senior years, it may develop a degenerative disease that slows them down.
What can you do to help your senior dog live life to the fullest?
Aside from showing your beloved senior pet that you love them by cherishing them and making them feel special, there are several things that you can do to help protect them from diseases and increase their lifespan:
- Take your pet to the vet often
Senior dogs need to be examined by a vet at least once a year, and more often if they are found to have underlying health conditions.
- At the vets, request a body condition evaluation
These evaluations are vital for determining whether your senior dog may be over or underweight.
- Help keep your pet’s weight healthy with an appropriate diet
Talk to your vet about the right diet for your pet and ensure that your senior canine doesn’t become overweight. Dogs that are overweight are more likely to develop diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers or skin conditions. If your dog does have a problem with their heart or kidneys, your vet will be able to recommend a special diet that will keep them healthy for longer.
- Don’t neglect your dogs’ mouth
If brushing your dogs’ teeth isn’t possible, then give them dental treats and toys that will help to keep their teeth clean. Dental diseases are common among senior pets, and you may need intervention from a vet if your pet’s mouth is in a bad condition.
- Give your dog exercise, but the right amount
Again, your vet will be able to guide you as to how often, and for how long you should exercise your senior pet, but exercise is vital for helping to maintain healthy joints and muscles, and for keeping your dog lean.
- Consider your pets’ comfort levels
If your senior dog has arthritis, then treat them to a soft bed or blanket to rest on, and if they are struggling to access certain areas of your home that they used to frequent, you could make a ramp to help them.
Senior dogs can make wonderful pets, and with the wisdom they have gained from their long life, there is probably a lot we can learn from them!