You and your older dog have been together for a long time, and now that he’s a senior, his needs may have changed. Senior dogs often need specialized diets, exercise regimes, grooming and dental care. If your dog has special medical considerations, ask your veterinarian if he suggests any medications, treatments or food for your senior dog. Below are several tips for caring for a senior dog.
1. Watch Those Joints and Hips
For the majority of dogs, aging means developing leg and hip problems. These problems can be exacerbated if he is overweight or a larger dog. While you may not be able to prevent these issues from developing, you can manage them. First, make sure that your dog does not jump excessively or at all. If your dog sleeps on your bed, provide a small set of stairs to make it easier for him to get onto the mattress. Additionally, take steps slowly and limit the lengths of your walks.
2. Reduce Calorie Intake
As your senior dog is most likely not as energetic as he was when younger, his calorie needs are smaller. You may need to feed your dog a low-calorie or specially designate senior food to prevent him from becoming overweight. Check the ingredients and recommended serving size for your dog’s age to ensure that your dog receives proper nutrition.
3. Watch Those Eyes!
An often overlooked fact is that a dog’s eyes can deteriorate rapidly as they enter old age. While there is little you can do to prevent this from occurring, you can make declining eyesight easier for your dog taking him out in bright sunlight or heavily lighting your rooms. Additionally, refrain from making any changes to the layout of your furniture, as your dog will memorize their placement so he may navigate the room more easily. If you take your dog on car trips, do not permit him to stick his head out of the window as the wind may put too much pressure on his eyes, causing a more rapid decline or further damage.
4. Beware Behavior Changes
As your dog ages, he may become more grumpy. While you can observe your dog, you cannot always prevent him from biting, snarling or snapping at things that disturb him. This does not mean that you should have no contact with your dog, of course, but you should take caution that he might not be as tolerant as those things he used to endure as a younger dog. If he begins to exhibit this behavior, do not let small children or other animals bother him as you cannot predict his response and he may bite. Significant behavior changes such as not eating, wheezing when breathing, extreme lethargy or not going to the bathroom indicate serious problems and should be brought immediately to your veterinarian’s attention.
5. Keep Medical Needs Up To Date
As your dog ages, he may need special medicines to regulate his body’s activity and keep him comfortable. Staying up to date on his vaccinations, medicines and visits to the veterinarian is the best way to address current or developing medical problems before they become unmanageable.
Your senior dog deserves the best of care and fortunately you are able to provide him just that. Properly managing your dog’s medical needs, maintain a healthy diet and being aware of his imitations are essential to making your elderly dog’s life the best it can be.