If you have an older dog, you may begin to notice common signs of aging. You may also wonder how best to care for this new stage in your pet’s life.
What Happens When Our Dogs Age?
Just like humans, pets can develop health issues when they age. Vision and hearing loss are often other difficulties older pets face. Below are some of the most common health changes you see in your pet as they grow older and how to help them.
When your pet reaches senior status, you may begin to see them slowing down and wonder what signs to watch for to keep them healthy. Your older pet can be more susceptible to injury and infection, so paying attention to their overall wellness is important.
Your pet’s risk of Heart Disease, Kidney Disease, Liver Disease, Gum Disease, and other health conditions also increases as they age, which is why we suggest maintaining annual or semi-annual wellness checks to catch and treat any disease early.
Another health issue common in senior dogs is joint pain and age-related arthritis. Watch for decreased activity levels or signs of pain (like limping or difficulty with stairs).
Hearing and Vision Loss In Dogs
Site and hearing loss is another common condition that can affect your senior pet.
While veterinary care may not be able to reverse the damage, the team at Metrovet can assist in making your pet comfortable if these conditions lead to anxiety or stress. We can also support you as the pet parent to understand any special care requirements that may make a more comfortable life for your dog.
Common Warning Signs of Disease in Senior Dogs
Weight gain or loss, lethargy, diarrhea, increased thirst, urination or excessive panting, and loss of appetite can all indicate a change in your pet’s quality of life and, potentially, health.
With vision and hearing loss, most pet parents start to notice that their pet no longer responds when they call or that they have begun to bump into items they usually avoided in the past.
If you notice any of these signs in your senior pet, schedule an appointment with the Metrovet team.
How to Keep Your Senior Dogs Happy and Healthy
Frequent Vet Checkups – checkups ensure your pet is routinely checked for warning signs of disease and age-related problems. Early treatment can often prevent or reverse bad health and help keep your dog comfortable throughout their life span. It is also important to continue routine care, such as annual vaccinations.
Adjust for Your Dog’s Handicaps – if your pet does develop age-related ailments or diseases, understanding elderly dog care can help you provide the best support through your pet’s senior years.
Maintain a Healthy Diet for Your Dog – a healthy diet can help your senior pet maintain their ideal body weight, joint health, and support good oral care. That’s why it’s essential to provide the best senior dog care.
Help With Your Dog’s Achy Joints – arthritis, excess weight, and degenerative diseases are some reasons your dog may be in pain. Supplements, fatty acids, and soft bedding are all excellent ways to help your senior dog stay comfortable.
Try to Keep Your Dog Active Without Overdoing It – activity is a great way to ensure your dog stays healthy as long as possible, but with senior dogs, the key is finding the right balance. Movement is beneficial as long as it doesn’t become excessive and cause additional stress or pain. Check with your veterinarian to discuss what’s best for your pet.
Keep a Watchful Eye on Your Dog – As a pet parent, you want the best quality of life for your senior dog, so keeping an eye on their behaviors and activity can help you notice changes early. Look for changes in habits or routines like eating, drinking, sleeping, and daily activity.
Schedule More Grooming Sessions – Regular grooming is important for senior dogs as it can help with everyday functions that may be slowing down, like temperature regulation and hygiene (particularly if your dog is struggling with incontinence). More frequent appointments may also allow the grooming sessions to be shorter, reducing the stress on your senior dog.
Take Care of Their Teeth – Dental care is vital for all pets, especially if your pet may no longer be a good candidate for dental procedures under anesthesia. Proper food, chew toys, and even brushing can help your dog develop infections that jeopardize their health.
Socialize Your Dog – If your pet loves being around other dogs or cats in the household (or outside of the home), this continued socialization can help your pet stay happy and energized. Watch closely for signs that your older dog needs rest in between socialization.
Take Your Dog Out for Special Outings – Now is the time to spoil your dog the most with trips to their favorite places, whether a drive-through that gives out dog bones or a visit to their favorite park. The best options are those that your dogs get the most joy from, and that won’t overextend their abilities or energy.
Practice Mental Stimulation With Your Dog – Older pets often have decreased brain function, so toys and puzzles can be a great way to stimulate their minds and reward their efforts.
Show Your Dog as Much Love as Possible – This goes without saying, but as health problems grow, it can often be hard for pet parents to manage new medications or treatments and see their dog slow down. Be sure to take the time for what you and your dog love best, whether belly rubs, or cuddling together on the couch. Your pet needs continued care and connection now more than ever!
How the Veterinarians at Metrovet Can Help
If you have questions about your senior pet or the services we offer, such as emergency care, surgery, or holistic options, contact our team at 857-201-3069 or schedule an appointment. We’d love to support you and your dog as they get older.
What age is considered elderly for a dog?
Dog size plays a big role in when dogs become senior citizens. For small dogs, eleven to twelve is the age they move into the elderly population. Medium-sized dogs reach this status around ten years old, and large and giant-sized breeds reach it earliest, around seven or eight.
What makes senior dogs happy?
Your dog will likely still enjoy their favorite activities, even if they can’t do as much as before. Whether your dog enjoys walks outside, treats, games, or just cuddles, help them continue to experience those activities as frequently as they’re able.
Are older dogs difficult to take care of?
Older dogs may require more care or medications, but they can still enjoy a great life with your support. At Metrovet, we help pet parents know how to best take care of their older pets with as little stress as possible.