When your dog gets older and is considered a senior, they need special care. It is up to you to properly care for your senior dog to help prolong his life. The age that a dog becomes a senior depends on their size. For example, a large dog like a Great Dane would be considered a senior at around age 7, while a Chihuahua would be considered middle aged at age 7.
1. Schedule Annual Exams With the Vet
If you normally only take your dog to the vet if he is sick or just every few years, that needs to change when he is a senior. When your dog gets older, he is more susceptible to disease. Often times, these diseases are hidden. It is important that you start taking your senior dog to the vet every year just in case he has any hidden conditions. At the visit, the vet will also give your dog a body evaluation. This is where you will find out if your dog is overweight or underweight. Either condition can be dangerous for a senior dog.
2. Control Your Dog’s Weight
As your dog gets older, he will start becoming less active. If you continue to feed him the same amount of food and he isn’t as active, he risks becoming overweight. Overweight dogs have a greater risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and skin disease. It is a good idea to discuss your senior dog’s nutritional needs with your vet to make sure that you are feeding you dog enough, but not too much.
3. Fatty Acids, DHA, and EPA are Important
As your dog gets older, he is prone to developing joint issues, mobility issues, and arthritis. In order to keep your senior dog moving like he did when he was a puppy, you should start feeding him foods rich in fatty acids, DHA, and EPA. You should give your dog’s joints added protection by giving him chondroitin and glucosamine supplements.
4. Take Care of Your Senior Dog’s Mouth
It is a good idea to take care of your dog’s teeth from the time they are a puppy. However, you need to start taking extra care of your dog’s teeth when he gets older. Brushing your dog’s teeth is the best option. If your dog won’t let you brush his teeth, you can give him dental treats that will remove the tartar from his teeth and freshen his breath.
5. Do Routine Checks on Your Senior Dog
Because your senior dog will be moving more slowly, it is easier for a tick to jump on him and start feeding. This can be dangerous if the tick is carrying Lyme disease. If your senior dog contracts this disease, it can result in a variety of health complications. You should also do regular checks for ear mites. Ear mites in dogs can be very uncomfortable. It is important that you pay attention to your senior dog’s condition.
6. Engage Your Dog in Exercise
Your senior dog may not be able to run around the block or chase rabbits through the yard the way he did when he was young, but he still needs exercise. The amount of exercise that he needs depends on his size. For a Great Dane, a walk around the block once a day is enough to keep him healthy and mobile. For a tiny Chihuahua, however, a walk around the block will be too much. Smaller dogs need less exercise, but all senior dogs need to walk and stay mobile.
7. Give Your Senior Dog Toys
Just because your dog won’t be able to fetch a ball or a stick when he gets older, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t still want to play. His body may be old but his mind is still as sharp as a tack. You should get your dog puzzle toys that don’t require a great deal of physical activity, but they are still fun.
8. Give Him a Comfortable Bed
If your senior dog suffers from arthritis, you should make sure that he has an extra soft bed to sleep on. If he is sore, a soft bed will help him feel better. When he sleeps at night, he will be less likely to wake up feeling sore if he has a soft bed. Be sure to ask Amazon or Snapdeal customer service and double check the kind of bed you are getting. You can likewise for their advice if you don’t know what to get.
9. Modify Your Home
If you have a few stairs in your home that your dog cannot avoid, you may need to add a ramp to make it easier for him to get up and down. Arthritis can make walking very difficult. Also, you can put carpeting on hard floors that your dog walks on the most. It can help him gain his footing and it will make getting around easier.
10. Give Him Extra Love
Your senior dog may not feel great every day, so he will need extra love and attention. It is a good idea to spend more time with him just cuddling up on the couch watching television. It could actually be good for both of you.
Caring for your senior dog is different than when you were caring for him when he was younger. When you properly care for your senior dog, he will feel better and he will be healthier.