Having senior pets can be a delight, but may also come with downsides. Older dogs often suffer a decline in functioning. Their hearing, ability to learn, senses of sight, memory and immunity can all deteriorate. As a result, they can develop a tendency to react aggressively as well as forget previously learned commands. Also, they may develop medical conditions such as arthritis and other degenerative diseases that lead to decreased mobility. That’s why you need to start specialized senior dog care immediately when they transition into a senior. But how can you tell that your tail-wagger is already aging?
When is a Pooch Considered a Senior?
Well, there is no exact age when a dog becomes a senior. Each dog has a different lifespan. However, a recent study has revealed that giant dog breeds age much faster compared to small breeds. A large breed like Great Dane, for instance, can be considered senior at only five while a Golden Retriever can become senior by eight years of age. On the other hand, a small breed like a Chihuahua or a toy poodle may not be senior until much later, maybe eleven or twelve years old. So, the age when a dog is considered “old” depends on several factors including environment, nutrition, and genetic background.
Common Signs Seen in Senior Pets
Since there are telltale signs of an aging dog, knowing them can help you offer effective and compassionate care in his senior years. Oftentimes, common symptoms in an aging dog include having urinary or fecal accidents in the house, confusion or disorientation, decreased purposeful activity, apathy as well as intermittent anxiety. He may also become tentative on stairs and experience changes in skin, coat, or even nails. In other instances, your aging pooch may suffer from a myriad of dog health problems like heart disease, liver disease, or other conditions that may lead to weight loss or even weight gain. Obesity, in particular, is one of the major cause of health issues in senior dogs. Therefore, be sure to report all changes you notice to your vet. Some of the above symptoms are actually related to various underlying health problems.
Helping Your Senior Dog
As the caregiver, there are many adjustments you can make in your dog’s environment and lifestyle to keep him happy and comfy in his golden years. Here are some tips:
- Choose a diet that’s right for your dog’s lifestyle and age. The diet should fulfill all his special nutritional needs and have fewer calories to prevent obesity. Supplements like chondroitin and glucosamine are beneficial for older dogs.
- Don’t forget to bond with your aging canine friend. During this time, be patient with him and give lots of extra TLC (tender loving care).
- Observe good dental care to avoid gum disease. Toys and dental treats can help keep your dog’s teeth clean if brushing is too much of a task.
- It’s also important to take extra care in grooming.
- Use ramps on stairs or furniture for dogs having trouble getting around.
- Schedule routine visits with your vet and emphasizes on body condition evaluation during each visit.
Always point to bringing your furry companion into the vet if you notice anything out of the ordinary. Keeping on top of the physical and mental changes in dogs is a surefire way to know when to get started on senior dog care. Have any question or concerns? We can help! Our well trained and experienced veterinarians at AMC can help in discussing all dog health issues with you.