Subconsciously, you know that it’s inevitable that your bouncing new puppy will eventually grow older, but you’re enjoying him so much you don’t really think about it. However, as several years pass, you start to see a decrease in energy levels and a little silvering around the muzzle. However, the good news is that you can take steps to keep your senior dog happy and healthy throughout his golden years.
When Does a Dog Become a Senior?
Generally speaking, a dog’s lifespan depends on its size. Large breeds tend to live shorter lives than smaller ones. Dogs are generally considered to be senior between five and ten years of age, with giant dogs at the shorter end of the spectrum and smaller breeds at the longer end.
Here are some common health problems that affect senior dogs:
Dental Disease and Senior Dogs
Dental disease can affect younger dogs, and, if neglected, can develop into a painful condition during the senior years. Dental hygiene should involve regular brushing with a pet-formulated toothpaste. This can be supplemented with a water additive or dental chews designed to help keep a dog’s teeth clean.
Joint Pain and Senior Dogs
An aging dog may have difficulty getting up after lying down, and may no longer look forward to long walks with you or chasing his ball. Arthritis, usually caused by wear-and-tear on the joints, is common in senior dogs. Give yours a joint supplement that contains glucosamine to help keep joints healthy. If the arthritis is advanced, your vet may recommend a prescription pain medication. If your dog can’t jump up to his favorite places anymore, give him a ramp, pet steps, or a comfy orthopedic dog bed.
Obesity and Senior Dogs
As your senior dog’s activity level decreases, so does the number of calories he needs. Not addressing changing nutritional requirements can lead to an obese dog. Carrying extra weight around will put extra stress on already painful joints. Most senior dogs can benefit from a reduced calorie, high-fiber diet with quality protein. If your dog has special dietary needs because of issues like diabetes or kidney disease, speak to your vet.
Behavioral Changes and Senior Dogs
Changes in behavior in a senior dog can result from some type of cognitive or physical impairment or a combination of both. Painful joints, changes in vision or hearing, liver or kidney disease can all lead to significant behavioral changes, You’ll need your vet’s help to diagnose the root cause of the problem.
Schedule Routine Visits with Your Vet
Just because your dog is a senior, doesn’t automatically mean he has health problems. However, regular checkups with your vet are crucial to identify any potential health issues as early as possible. Because it can be difficult for an owner to spot signs of trouble, a senior dog should have a vet visit at least every six months.
Enjoy Your Senior Dog
Repay your senior dog for his many years of loyal companionship by giving him some extra loving care and attention. If you are unfortunate enough to have any kind of emergency involving a senior dog and you live in the Columbia South Carolina area, bring him to CVETS. We want you and your senior dog to enjoy as much time together as possible.