Every dog ages at a different pace depending on their genetics, environment, and nutrition. Senior dogs have different care requirements than younger dogs, and it’s important to know these care differences to keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
But what are some of the things you can expect as your dog ages? Your dog may tire easily, have difficulty getting up or getting comfortable, and may have trouble going up or downstairs.
To help you take good care of your dog as they age, consider the following care tips for your senior dog:
1. Take them in for regular check-ups. Your senior dog will need to visit the vet more often than they did when they were an adult. Most veterinarians recommend taking your dog in for a check-up at least once every six months when they’ve become a senior. Small and medium breeds are considered seniors once they’ve reached the age of seven whereas large breeds are considered seniors when they’re six.
2. Give them the proper accommodations. It’s common for senior dogs to develop vision loss, joint problems, and bone issues. These impairments can make it difficult for your dog to get around like they used to. Give your dog the proper accommodations they need by placing their bed in an easy-to-reach place on the floor. Dog stairs can help them reach the couch or your bed. Support braces can also help to relieve arthritic pain.
3. Make sure they’re getting the right nutrition. Your dog’s nutritional needs change as they get older, too. You want to make sure the food they’re eating is high in fiber to promote gastrointestinal health. Antioxidants are also important for helping your dog fight disease.
4. Help your dog get their exercise. It can be challenging to make sure your dog is getting the exercise they need as they age. Your dog may have been excited for walks as a puppy, but may not have the energy for them as a senior. But it’s not good to let your dog be sedentary because inactivity can be bad for their heart health just like it is for yours. Talk to your vet to learn which activities may be best for your senior dog.
5. Make sure you’re brushing your dog’s teeth. Oral health is just as important for dogs as it is for people, but not many dog owners brush their furry friend’s teeth. In fact, it’s estimated that up to 80% of dogs will suffer from gum disease at some point in their life. You can help your dog fight back against gum disease by brushing your dog’s teeth once a day. Never use human toothpaste when brushing your dog’s teeth. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are specifically designed for your dog. If your senior dog already has gum disease, a regular dog toothbrush may be too irritating on their gums. Instead, use a gentle dental spray or wipe your dog’s teeth to remove plaque.
Your dog’s needs change as they get older, and your dog is dependent on you for proper care. By following the tips above and by taking your dog regularly to their vet, you can keep your dog happy and healthy from puppy to senior.