Last week’s topic was regarding what to expect as our cats age into their senior years, today we discuss the caring of our elderly dogs.
Dogs provide the greatest loyalty and companionship that one can receive. As such, it’s up to us to care for our best friends as they age, making sure that their changing needs are met and they live as comfortably as possible.
There are a multitude of differences between the varieties of senior dog foods, each offering different nutritional balances. With this in mind, how does the owner of a dog select the right food for their aging friend?
The first step, which is vitally important, is to visit a veterinarian first to ascertain what the dietary needs are for any elderly pet to maintain proper weight and health as they age. Through a series of tests, veterinarians can determine what varieties of food are most appropriate to manage or prevent particular age-related conditions, or what supplements can compliment their changing regimen.
Changing Energy Levels
A reduction in activity is natural as our dogs grow older, as they have trouble maintaining the same level of energy for extended periods of time. Due to a deterioration of cardiorespiratory function, reducing the lengths of their regular walks and cutting out high-impact activities can ensure that they stay healthy while still getting the exercise that they require to stay fit.
There are a number of new behaviours that are common for aging dogs, some may seem harmless at first but could be an early indication of underlying conditions. Here are a few behaviours to keep an eye out for.
Elderly dogs are very sensitive to weather and temperature changes, have trouble regulating their body temperature. Ensure that aging dogs are able to stay warm in colder months with blankets, beds, coats & boots. Similarly, they should be kept cool in the summer with fresh water or even cooling packs under blankets if they find it helpful. To prevent potentially fatal situations, senior dogs should not be left outside in cases of extreme temperature, in winter or summer.
Additionally, accommodate sore and arthritic dogs with easier access to the items that they need to stay happy and healthy. Keep their amenities to the main floor of the house in order to let them avoid the painful climbing of stairs. This can also help to avoid potentially dangerous falls.
As with all pets, regular checkups are very important, but as our dogs age these become even more so. Senior dogs should have regular checkups booked approximately every 6 to 9 months. There is a lot of aging that happens over this time period so it is vital to see a veterinarian on a more frequent basis to monitor for age-related conditions, and wellness. If, however, you notice new signs and behaviours as your pet grows older, discuss them with your veterinarian to determine how best to make your dog’s senior years as comfortable as possible