Just like humans, senior dogs have different care requirements than younger ones. This fact probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone.
One of the most important things to keep in mind is the frequency of visits to your vet as your pet ages. Dogs age faster than humans, so if you are bringing your dog to the vet once a year, this must change. Vet appointments include many of the same routine checks as for younger dogs but may also include additional dental care, blood work, urine tests and other examinations for symptoms of issues commonly encountered by seniors.
It’s important that you monitor changes in your dog’s health between regular vet visits. If any of the following signs are present, please speak to your vet.
- Constipation or diarrhoea
- Behavioural changes
- Difficulty breathing
- Stiffness or limping
- Increased vocalization
As your dog’s immune system gets weaker with time, parasite control becomes even more imperative. Ticks, fleas, worms, and pests pose a greater threat. We advise that you speak to your vet about the best possible preventative treatment plan.
Advances over the last few years mean that specially formulated diets are available to help manage medical conditions associated with ageing, but these should be used under veterinary advice. Foods designed specifically for senior dogs include ingredients that are easier to digest and chew. Dogs tend to struggle with more dental issues as they get older.
If your dog is losing weight you should consult your vet. Feeding little and often may help to increase appetite. There are various other methods that your vet can advise that are suitable specifically for your dog. Advanced age can equally result in weight gain. A linear increase in weight may warrant a reduction in caloric intake.
You may also want to adjust your dog’s bathroom routine, giving your dog more frequent opportunities to go outside.
Changes in behaviour
As a dog owner, you interact and care for your dog daily and are familiar with your pet’s behaviour and routines. If your dog is showing any change in behaviour, contact your veterinarian and provide them with a list of the changes you have observed. Dogs can show signs of senility. Stimulating them through interactions can help keep them stay mentally active.
Making changes to your home
As your dog ages, you may need to adjust their regular routine. Obstacles and stairs that were not an issue in the past, can become huge hurdles. This may require changes of where food and water are placed so it’s accessible easily at all time.
As they age, our dogs become more dependent on us for their well-being. It’s up to us to monitor their health and take measures to keep them as healthy and happy as possible in their senior years.