Recognising that your dog is getting older can be heart-breaking for any pet owner, but it’s important to realise the key signs of old age in order for you to give your pet the best possible care.
Senior dogs can require more attentive care than younger dogs. This is because they’re more likely to experience health issues during their old age and they’re more susceptible to certain illnesses.
Here are five tips for caring for a senior dog to ensure that they remain happy and healthy:
1. Keep them moving!
Although your dog may become lazier as they grow older, it’s vital that they’re constantly getting some form of exercise; whether that be through a simple walk to the park or playing with toys in the garden.
If your senior dog spends most of their days snoozing on the sofa, they may become overweight. Not only can this put additional pressure on their joints and can lead to issues such as arthritis, but it can lead to a string of other health issues and diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and even cancer.
So, gentle exercise is essential for an older dog, but remember that they aren’t as fit as they used to be, so watch out for signs that your dog is getting tired and tailor the exercise regime according to their capabilities.
2. Regular vet appointments
Older dogs will require more attention when it comes to their health needs, so it’s important to plan regular check-ups with their vet. Senior pets are advised to visit their vet every six months, even if you cannot see any physical symptoms that your dog could be experiencing.
Remember that certain breeds of dog are more susceptible to different types of illness. Your vet will be able to advise for this and give you a tailored list on symptoms to look out for.
3. Pet-proof your home
Just like you did when your dog first started living with you, you should also start to pet-proof your home when your dog is showing signs of old age.
If possible, keep your dog’s food, water supply and sleeping area downstairs. This will reduce the risk of your pet struggling to climb the stairs and enduring strenuous exercise.
4. Dietary requirements
When your dog gets older, their dietary requirements will change. This is usually around the age of seven although the exact age will depend on your dogs’ size, health history, activity levels and breed.
Consider swapping meals in your dogs’ diet to food that contain fatty acids such as fish oils. Oils such as EPA and DHA have been shown to help dogs who suffer with arthritis or other joint and mobility issues, along with aid in keeping normal skin structure and function.
You should also learn to read the labels on your dogs’ food to choose the best and healthiest diet for your pet in their older age.
5. Take care of their teeth
It is vital to keep track of the condition of your dog’s teeth, no matter how old they are. However, senior dogs are more susceptible to poor dental hygiene that could become a breeding ground for bacteria.
If your dog’s teeth are unhygienic and not cleaned regularly, tartar can build-up and cause a condition called gingivitis. If left untreated, this could infect the bloodstream with bacteria and cause harm to their internal organs.
Try to brush your pet’s teeth on a daily basis to keep their mouth clean and free from bacteria. If you’re unable to do this, give them treats or toys designed to keep their mouth clean.
As you can see, there are several ways that you can care for an older pet. As they age, they will require more healthcare so ensuring that you have insurance for your older dog is a fantastic way to cover unexpected vet bills.