Whether you adopt a dog that is already in its senior years, or your pup has grown up with your family, older dogs require some special care and attention. November is National Senior Pet Month, and a great time to ensure you’re taking the proper steps to help your senior dog live as happy, healthy, and comfortably as possible.
Don’t forget that not all dogs age the same. Smaller breeds tend to have longer lifespans, whereas larger breeds tend to have shorter lifespans. Five or six years old may be mid-life for your terrier, but for a Great Dane, it could be considered their senior years.
1. Get regular check-ups.
As your dog ages, their eyesight, hearing, sense of smell, and memory may not be as sharp as they once were. You may notice they have started to slow down and aren’t as energetic and puppy-like anymore. It’s a good idea to schedule more frequent check-ups to keep on top of your dog’s health and identify any potential problems early on.
2. Provide a high-quality diet.
Your dog’s dietary needs change as they get older too. They may require food that is softer to chew and easier to digest. But you still want to ensure that they are getting all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy. Look for foods that are specially designed for senior dogs, and talk to your vet about the best choice to meet your dog’s nutritional needs.
3. Stay active.
Even though your dog may not have as much energy in their later years, you still want to keep them moving. You can continue on your daily walks, but you may need to alter your path so it’s a little shorter or doesn’t have as many hills or rough terrain. If your dog loves to run and play, give them opportunities to do so, but just remember that they may not have the same stamina anymore. They may play hard for shorter bursts of time. It can also be a good idea to buy food puzzles to keep their mind active and entertained without quite as much physical rigor.
4. Brush up!
Don’t forget to brush your dog’s coat and their teeth. The texture, quality, and quantity of their fur can deteriorate as they get older, but with proper bathing, brushing, and grooming, you can keep their coat as soft and healthy as possible. If your dog lets you, you’ll want to brush their teeth – or let the vet do it – but if they’re not a fan, you can try using different dental treats or toys that can help clean their teeth. If your dog does have missing teeth or other dental problems, they may need a softer food that is easier to chew.
5. Keep comfort in mind.
Aging can be tough on your dog’s body, just as it is for humans. If your dog is slowing down and beginning to develop arthritis, invest in a soft, comfortable bed that is easy for them to get in and out of. Consider the placement of their bed as well as food and water bowls in relation to the stairs. You may want to move everything downstairs so they don’t have to worry about making the trek, or you may want to put a separate set upstairs so that once they’re up for the night, they have everything they need. If you have stairs leading up to your house, putting in a small ramp can be helpful and make it easier for your dog to comfortably navigate going to and from the door.
When you need to be away from home, make sure your senior dog is well cared for by boarding them at Lake Wylie Pet Resort. Our luxurious accommodations and caring staff will ensure your dog stays comfortable and has their needs met until you return. Have peace of mind knowing they’re safe and in good hands while you’re away. Contact us today to schedule your dog’s next stay!