In your eyes, your dog may always be the frisky little puppy that landed up in your home all those years ago. However, the signs of ageing start being more and more visible. Your dog gets tired faster. They're slower to climb up to the sofa. They simply are not as excited about things as before. Here are our 6 top tips on caring for a senior dog for a long, happy life.
Understand the signs of ageing
The signs of ageing often present themselves when a dog is older but they can often be hidden too. Some of these include breathing issues, a loss of appetite, urine odour, a slower rate of reflexes, a decrease in mobility, etc. The time to start looking for signs of ageing is in the life span of the breed you have. Watch out for common signs like a lack of energy, an obvious weight loss, difficulty walking, joint problems, incontinence, or other physical issues.
Make your home senior dog-friendly
As your dog grows older it’s important to adapt your living space accordingly too. Whether you live in an apartment or a large house, you want the space to be comfortable and easy to clean. Senior dogs are prone to accidents and some may need a ramp, if they're able to make the final trip to the loo. For older dogs that aren't mobile, you might need to install the ramp in the hall or where there are stairs and keep a special bed for them. Make changes in their sleeping quarters - perhaps more warm rugs or a softer bed? Pay attention to the flooring. Slippery tiles are tougher to navigate and placing grip mats or rugs would help your dog walk more easily.
Make supplements a part of their diet
A dog's coat may look different as they get older. While you might think the changes in their fur are harmless, in fact, it could be part of the ageing process. For instance, a lack of vitamin B12, a common nutrient that reduces hair loss, may be responsible for this. Check with your vet, and give the appropriate vitamin supplements or chewable tablets for the nutrients your dog needs. Make sure they eat a balanced diet too and avoid fatty, processed foods to keep their weight in check.
Mix up activity levels
Exercise is of utmost importance for any dog, but particularly for older dogs. Ensure your dog gets some exercise and keep them agile as much as possible, even if they only come out for a few minutes. It's also important that your dog gets a mix of activity levels, especially as they age. This might mean you have to cut down on the number of walks you are doing or simply do a single run to the park every day. You can use an exercise wheel or make them walk up and down the stairs to add some alternative activities.
Visit the vet more frequently
Older dogs need more attention and care. This is true for dogs over 10 years of age, and dogs who have not fully recovered from injury. For example, if your older dog has a bad, stiff, or painful back, or is weak, keep an eye on their symptoms. Call the vet immediately if any of these signs are seen. Sometimes, problems in senior dogs might not be visible yet but it is there and noticeable in subtler ways like limping or inertia. That’s why senior dogs need more frequent vet check-ups than younger ones.
One way to provide more frequent vet check-ups for senior dogs is through online consultations with Wagr's pet doctor. With WagR, pet owners can easily connect with licensed veterinarians who can diagnose, treat, and provide professional advice to ensure their furry friend's health and wellbeing.
Plus, with online consultations, pet owners can save time and avoid the stress of taking their senior dog to the clinic. From the comfort of their own home, they can get a thorough assessment of their dog's condition and receive personalized treatment plans. With Wagr's online pet doctor, caring for your senior dog has never been more convenient and accessible.
Add more grooming routines
Senior dogs will require more care to keep their fur or nails in good shape as they undergo bodily changes. For example, older dogs lose lustre and shine to their coat as they stop producing some of the natural oils. Increase the frequency of brushing their coats and spend more time to help stimulate the production of oils. Remember to keep grooming sessions shorter so as not to tire them out.
Ageing is inevitable and as humans, our needs evolve and change as we grow older. It’s the same for dogs. They will require more attention and care to keep them happy and safe. They may cease to be rambunctious and prefer to play more sedate games that require less effort. The key is to spend more time with your senior dog and enjoy their company no matter what the activity is. That’s the secret to a rewarding experience.