Before you know it, that energetic little puppy you had has grown into a senior dog. As your pet ages, they may begin to slow down a bit and experience more health problems. Knowing how to care for them as they get older can help ensure they stay as healthy as possible and make the most of their senior years.
Keep in mind that larger breeds tend to age more quickly than smaller breeds because, in general, they have a shorter lifespan. A Great Dane may reach senior age around five years old, while a chihuahua may not be considered a senior until it’s 10 years old. Know your breed and what to expect.
Get Regular Checkups
Older dogs should go to the vet at least once a year, and more often if you notice changes in their health or behavior. The vet can check for signs of arthritis, heart disease, kidney problems, cognitive decline, and other issues. Many conditions can be managed if caught early.
Provide a Healthy Diet
As your dog ages, its dietary needs change. Food made for puppies is often higher in calories because younger are dogs are more active. Senior dogs may need a lower calorie food that is easier to chew and digest. Talk to your vet about what the right diet for your pet is at each stage of their life.
Clean Their Teeth
Deteriorating dental health can cause major issues with your dog’s health and well-being. Not only can gingivitis increase their risk of heart disease and other problems, loose or missing teeth can impact their ability to eat and chew on toys. Dental problems can also be painful for them. Make sure they’re getting regular cleanings throughout their life and eating treats or chewing on toys that help reduce plaque buildup.
You may have noticed that your dog has slowed down as it has aged, but that’s no reason to forego exercise. Keeping your dog active can help maintain a healthy weight and stronger bones and joints. It can also ease arthritis by not allowing joints to become as stiff. You don’t have to do strenuous exercise with your dog – just walks around the block or park can help. Pay attention to your dog’s comfort and stamina and make sure you give them time to rest.
Keep Them Comfortable
Does your dog love laying on the couch, but now they have a hard time getting up? Do they have trouble moving about on hardwood? Do what you can to keep them comfortable such as adding some blankets or pillows to the floor for them to lay on, or putting down some extra rugs to help them gain traction on slippery surfaces. If they don’t navigate the stairs very well anymore, put up a gate to keep them from going up and bring their food, water, and toys downstairs instead.
Senior dogs still have a lot of love and attention to give, so make sure you’re giving plenty of it in return. Do what you can to keep your dog healthy and comfortable as they get older. If you’re heading out of town, consider boarding your senior dog at Lake Wylie Pet Resort. You can have peace of mind that they’ll get plenty of attention and have a safe, comfortable space to relax as well as time to socialize and play with other dogs that are at their level. Contact us today to schedule a stay for your senior dog!