Caring for Senior Dogs
Senior pets are special companions: serene, soulful, and set in their ways. Their pace may slow and they nap a little more, but their lust for life remains just as strong.
Generally speaking, many veterinarians consider a dog to be a senior when they reach 7 or 8 years of age, but size and breed are both factors in a dog’s aging process. You may not notice significant changes at first, but it’s important to provide the proper care so you and your dog enjoy their golden years to the fullest.
- Weight. A healthy weight is beneficial for all life stages, but even more so as they age. Excess weight can add to physical discomfort and health problems such as joint stress, osteoarthritis, difficulty breathing, and skin conditions.
- Exercise. Regular exercise keeps your dog healthy physically and mentally. Some dogs experience decreased mobility as they age, so work closely with your veterinarian to determine the activity level best suited for your senior.
- Awareness. Some activities can become more difficult as aging occurs; jumping up onto the couch can get harder, steps can be more challenging, and walks may need to be slower. Pay attention to your dog and be sensitive to her limitations.
- Prevention. Because dogs age faster than humans, regular veterinary visits can help keep her more comfortable and healthy. Consider having routine checkups every six months and ask your vet for tips on caring for a senior dog.
- Supplements. Several varieties of over-the-counter supplements exist that claim to benefit aging dogs, ask your vet for recommendations before purchasing. Fish oil and alternative treatments like acupuncture, cold or low-energy laser therapy, and hydrotherapy can also help dogs with mobility issues from arthritis.
Remember, you know your dog better than anyone, so tell your vet about any behavioral changes you see, don’t assume it is a normal part of aging.