Having your dog reaching seniorhood is a blessing, but it’s essential to keep some things in mind when caring for an older pet to make his life as comfortable as possible.
To know exactly when your dog reaches senior status will depend on its size and genetics. Larger dogs will age faster than smaller breeds.
Check out this aging chart to have a better idea:
Here are some quick but super important tips for you to give the best care possible to your older dog:
- Dental hygiene is particularly crucial as your dog ages. Regular brushing and professional cleaning can prevent painful dental disease and decay (and help your dog avoid the chewing problems mentioned earlier). If your dog doesn’t enjoy having its teeth brushed, consider dental treats and toys instead.
- It’s tempting to start indulging your pet more in their old(er) age, but it’s more important than ever to keep their diet healthy and balanced. Too many calories at this stage in their life could lead to inflammation and weight gain, both of which can decrease your dog’s quality of life.
- Like people, aging dogs experience pain and have difficulty performing physical activities they used to enjoy. However, exercise continues to be imperative to their health and well-being. Take your dog on short, gentle walks and monitor their breathing and gait to ensure nothing is amiss. Your dog’s brain needs plenty of exercises as well. Stimulating toys such as food puzzles help keep your dog sharp.
- Dogs can’t talk, so it’s our job as their caregivers to watch out for signs they might be in distress. Some things to look for include limping, difficulty changing position, difficulty climbing stairs or jumping, and lying down when eating or drinking—all of these suggest that your pup requires a visit to the vet.
- Just as you puppy-proofed your home all those years ago, now is the time to optimize your living space for your senior dog’s needs. Some ideas include swapping out their old bed for an orthopedic and/or heated option, setting up some pet stairs next to their favorite pieces of furniture, and placing rugs on slippery surfaces like tile and wood. The goal is to keep your dog as safe and comfortable as possible and help them maintain some of their independence, even as they slow down.
Did you take notes? Are there any other tips you think are important when caring for an older dog? Let us know in the comments below.