Due to improved veterinary care and dietary habits, our pets are living longer and healthier lives than ever before. Senior dogs may need more rest. Somewhere quiet where they won’t be disturbed, in a soft, cozy bed, away from draughts. They may need to go out to the bathroom more frequently. Incontinence or changes in how often they need to go should be discussed with your vet. Make sure everything your dog needs is easily accessible, so they don’t have to go too far to find their water, food, toys and bed. Smooth, slippery floors can be difficult for senior dogs to walk on, so put a rug or carpet down to give them something to grip.
When is a dog considered a senior pet?
It varies depending on the dog’s size. Small dogs are generally regarded as geriatric at the age of seven. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter lifespans, therefore are deemed geriatric when they’re approximately six years of age.
What are the most common health issues experienced by senior dogs?
Geriatric dogs can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as cancer, heart disease, kidney/urinary tract disease, liver disease, diabetes, joint/bone disease, senility and/or weakness. Before any medical signs become apparent, behavioural changes can serve as valuable indicators that something is changing in an older pet, which may be due to medical or other reasons. Some of the possible behaviour changes can include but not be limited to; increased reaction to sounds, increased vocalization, confusion, disorientation, increased anxiety/irritability, house soiling, pacing, change in sleep cycles, repetitive activities, etc.
How should I care for my senior dog?
Geriatric dogs should have semi-annual veterinary visits, so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated. Senior dog exams are similar to those for younger pets but are more in-depth and may include dental care, possible bloodwork and specific checks for physical signs of diseases that are more likely in older pets. Keep your older pet exercised regularly to ensure they’re lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles. However, tailor your dog’s exercise needs to his requirements and limitations. Feed them a high-quality diet, that’s appropriate for his/her age and lifestyle. You can also add some omega fatty acids and/or glucosamine chondroitin supplements.