12 Tips for Caring for Senior Dogs
Thanks to advances in veterinary care and preventative medicine, our pets are living longer than ever. But just like humans, as dogs get older, their bodies change, and they need to be cared for in different ways than when they were younger. For example, senior dogs (which depending on the breed and size, a canine is considered between the ages of seven and 12) can develop heart disease, arthritis, diabetes, vision problems, etc. And adjusting their care accordingly is one of the most important ways to provide an older dog with a good quality of life. Here are 12 tips on how to care for a senior dog:
1. Double Up On Vet Visits
The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) recommends taking a senior dog to the vet every six months for checkups because early detection of disease or other ailment is crucial for successful treatment. During these appointments, your vet will perform full wellness exams and pay especially close attention to any concerning lumps, the sound of the dog’s heart, and its quality of hearing and sight.
2. Keep your Dog’s Physical Limitations in Mind at All Times
Depending on the state of your pet’s body, you should put implements and tools that will assist it in getting around easily, safely, and with as little pain as possible. The following things may help:
Blocking Stairways Off
This is important so that a dog with impaired vision or other ailments can’t tumble down them.
Remove Large Furniture Items from Main Pathway
Removing large furniture and other items from main pathways so that there is plenty of space to navigate. Avoiding moving main pieces of furniture or rearranging your house if your dog is losing its vision because it can rely on memory to get around.
Watching Your Step
If your dog is small and can’t hear very well, you want to be conscientious about not accidentally stepping on it and both of you risking injuries. Using carpet or rubber mat runners on any slippery surface to help dogs with mobility issues.
Provide Dog Ramps
Providing dog ramps or steps to help dogs with limited mobility or vision problems to safely get onto their favorite places, like your bed or on the sofa.
3. Help Your Dog Maintain a Healthy Diet
Although it may be tempting to spoil your senior pet with indulgent treats, that may be detrimental to its health. With additional input from your vet, you should develop a diet with the following things in mind:
- Foods with omega-3s, such as fish, fish oil, and egg yolks can improve brain activity, eyesight, both kidney and heart function, moisturize skin, and boost the immune system.
- Homemade bone broth is wonderful for bone and joint support.
- Digestive enzymes and probiotics aid in digestion and nutrient absorption.
- Pumpkin is a good source of fiber and can help with bowel issues—both constipation and diarrhea.
- Steamed dark greens, such as kale, broccoli, or spinach, are great for senior dogs who suffer from anemia, and they are a good source of vitamins.
4. Cater to Your Senior Dog’s Aches and Pains
Giving your dog special supplements or medications as recommended by your vet can help ease pain, but so can massage, acupuncture, chiropractic appointments, cold lasers, and warm towels can also aid in alleviating suffering.
5. Keep Your Dog Active but Don’t Overdo it
It’s normal to see your dog’s energy level decrease as it ages, and you may need to adjust your typical exercise routine to afford that fact. For instance, if you may have gone on long runs with your dog when it was younger, so when it’s older, you may consider going for a walk may be better.
6. Watch Your Dog Carefully
Although you may have trusted your dog to hangout in your backyard by itself, you probably don’t want to continue doing that in its senior years. For one thing, you want to make sure that your dog is safe at all times, and as it ages it loses its faculties to protect itself.
7. Get Your Dog in For Extra Grooming Sessions
Senior dogs may have trouble reaching certain spots when grooming themselves, and their fur is at an increased risk of matting with less activity. This is an additional way to check for abnormalities on the skin.
8. Take Care of Your Dog’s Teeth
Teeth become more sensitive and prone to infection as a dog becomes older, and dental problems can cause kidney and heart disease. Here are some tips for dealing with a senior dog’s teeth:
- Regularly brush teeth with dog-specific toothpaste.
- Use dental drops or other products to decrease bacteria buildup.
- Professional dental cleanings should happen on a consistent basis.
9. Allow Your Dog to Have a Social Life
A dog’s mental fortitude will only be aided through connections and time spent with plenty of human and fellow canine friends.
10. Take Your Dog on Special Outings
Suppose your dog loves car rides—those activities should not stop just because it is growing older (unless it’s obvious that it is no longer enjoyable). Sure, you may need to find certain safety measures, such as ramps for a safe entrance and exit of the vehicle, but even the shortest amount of time riding around with your furry friend will mean the world to them.
11. Do Everything You Can to Keep Your Dog’s Mind Sharp
There are plenty of dog-friendly brain games that can help keep your dog’s mind as focused and sharp as possible.
12. Shower Your Pet with Tons of Love
Your love is free, and it’s easy to dote on your senior dog. The two of you have likely been in each other’s lives for a long time, and you should provide affection to show your dog just how much you appreciate them.
Contact Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie for More Tips on Caring For Your Senior Dog
By following the 12 tips above on caring for your senior dog, you will be able to keep your dog happy and healthy during this phase of their life. For more information, contact our veterinarians at Veterinary Medical Center of St. Lucie by calling (772) 337-8570. We will always treat your pet like family and be there to provide the best care through every stage of their life.