How To Take Better Care of Senior Dogs

I looked into this topic in 2017 when my parents’ dog Zico moved in with us. He was 10 years old at the time and I wanted to know how to take better care of a senior dog. Elderly dogs need more attention and care with slight changes to our daily routine. These are tips... Read the Post The post How To Take Better Care of Senior Dogs appeared first on Cavalcadia.

How To Take Better Care of Senior Dogs

I looked into this topic in 2017 when my parents’ dog Zico moved in with us. He was 10 years old at the time and I wanted to know how to take better care of a senior dog. Elderly dogs need more attention and care with slight changes to our daily routine. These are tips for healthy senior dogs.

My boy Haiku turned eight years old this January. He is entering seniorhood and sadly some things are going to gradually change. Just like every other dog owner, I want him to have a healthy and happy senior life. It’s time to start remembering what senior dogs need so I don’t know if this list of 7 ways to take better care of senior dogs is more for me or the readers.

Here are seven senior dog health tips that help you take better care of your senior dog!

Signs of Aging in Dogs

Here are some signs of your dog getting older:

  • The gray hair around the muzzle and eyes
  • Loss of muscle mass and decreased energy levels
  • Changes in sleeping patterns and increased napping
  • Arthritis or stiffness in the joints
  • Cataracts or cloudiness in the eyes
  • Loss of hearing or changes in hearing ability
  • Changes in skin condition or coat quality
  • Dental issues such as tartar buildup or missing teeth
  • Loss of bladder or bowel control
  • Behavioral changes such as confusion or disorientation

It is important to note that many of these signs can also be caused by other health issues, so if you notice any changes in your dog’s health or behavior, it’s best to consult with your vet for an evaluation. With regular vet check-ups, a proper diet and exercise, and love and care, senior dogs can continue to live happy and healthy lives.

Senior dog resting on a porch

7 Tips How to Take Better Care of a Senior Dog

1. Proper Food For Senior Dogs

As dogs age, their muscle mass decreases, which can decrease the number of calories they need to maintain their weight. Additionally, older dogs may become less active, which also contributes to a decrease in metabolism.

Because of this, many dog food brands have specific products for senior dogs. The kibble contains fewer calories because the fat content is lower. Look for high protein and high-quality fats since senior dogs may benefit from a diet higher in protein to help maintain muscle mass and overall health.

dog food for senior dogs

It is important to monitor your senior dog’s weight and adjust their food intake accordingly to avoid obesity. It’s also important to encourage your senior dog to stay active, as regular exercise can help to maintain muscle mass and metabolism.

And likewise, if a senior dog starts to lose weight and doesn’t have much of an appetite, it can be a sign of underlying illness. This needs to be examined by a veterinarian.

Easily digestible ingredients: As dogs age, their digestion may become less efficient. Choosing food with easily digestible ingredients can help to ensure that they are getting the nutrients they need.

2. Right Supplements For Senior Dogs

Even though kibble is complete food meaning that it meets the nutritional standard set for dogs, you might want to consider supplementation for your senior:

Vitamin E and vitamin C can help to support immune health and can also help to maintain a shiny coat.

Read more about vitamin C for Dogs here!

Good sources of vitamin E are fatty fish like salmon and tuna. Some fish oil supplements have added vitamin E in them so remember to check the label. Chicken eggs also contain vitamin E and are an affordable option.

High-quality fat like fish oil contains omega-3 fatty acids. These can help to maintain joint health and mobility, which is especially important for senior dogs.

Glucosamine and chondroitin are naturally occurring compounds found in the body that are believed to play a role in maintaining healthy joints.

  • Glucosamine is a natural compound that helps the body build and repair cartilage. As dogs age, the natural production of glucosamine decreases, which can lead to joint problems such as arthritis. Supplementing with glucosamine can help to support the joints and alleviate pain and discomfort.
  • Chondroitin is another natural compound found in the body that helps to support the structure and function of cartilage. It works together with glucosamine to help keep the joints healthy and mobile. Chondroitin can help to reduce inflammation and improve the elasticity of the cartilage.

3. Brain-Stimulating Activities For Senior Dogs

Dementia and memory loss are not only human problems. Canine dementia is a real thing and that’s why it’s important to offer brain-stimulating activities to your dog.

Here are some activities to keep your dog’s mind sharp!

  • Training and obedience exercises: These activities help to keep the dog’s mind active and can improve cognitive function.
  • Puzzle toys: These can include treat-dispensing toys that require the dog to figure out how to get to the treat or interactive toys that can keep them engaged. Kongs and lick mats are great!
  • Hide and seek: This game can be played indoors or outdoors and can help to keep the dog’s mind active and engaged.
  • Scent work: This can be done through various training methods like K9 nose work, where the dog is trained to find a specific scent.
Happy senior dog outside with a scarf

4. Brushing Senior Dog For Better Blood Flow

When your dog is getting older you might see signs in their fur. The aging dog starts having gray hair around the muzzle and eyes, their coat gets thinner and more brittle. The long silky coat can become easily knotted and dull.

That’s why a grooming routine becomes important. Regular brushing removes dead hair and keeps matts and knots away.

Brushing your senior dog is like a light massage that also increases their blood circulation. Giving some love and attention to them is never futile.

5. Yearly Senior Dog Checkups

American Veterinary Medical Association tells us that one human year means five years for dogs. So think about it this way, yearly checkups for your dog is the same as you going to the doctor every five years.

Many health problems can progress and worsen if left unchecked for five years. For dogs, a lot can happen in a year. When aging, male dogs can experience prostate enlargement, and for female dogs risk of metritis increases.

Senior Dog Checkup list:

Here are examinations that can be done in senior checkup at your veterinary clinic:

  • Physical examination: The vet will check your dog’s overall condition, including their weight, body condition, hydration, and vital signs such as temperature, pulse, and respiration.
  • Eye examination: The vet will check your dog’s eyes for any signs of infection, inflammation, or injury. They may also check for signs of cataracts or other age-related eye conditions.
  • Ear examination: The vet will check your dog’s ears for any signs of infection or inflammation. They may also check for signs of ear mites or other parasites.
  • Skin examination: The vet will check your dog’s skin for any signs of infection, inflammation, or parasites such as fleas or ticks.
  • Joint examination: The vet will check your dog’s joints for any signs of arthritis, stiffness, or pain.
  • Neurological examination: The vet will check your dog’s reflexes, coordination, and overall neurological function.
  • Laboratory test: The vet may recommend blood and urine tests to check for any underlying health issues, such as diabetes, kidney disease, or anemia.
Senior dog sleeping on a purple blanket

6. Regular Dental Care For Senior Dogs

Like mentioned above, one year for us is five for dogs. Many health problems can progress and worsen if left unchecked for five years.

As dogs age, they may lose some of their teeth due to decay, injury, or gum disease. Their gums may be more susceptible to periodontal disease, which can lead to infection, tooth loss, and other problems. This can make it more difficult for them to chew their food and may also lead to other health issues.

In a dental examination, the vet will check your dog’s teeth and gums for any signs of tartar buildup, dental disease, or missing teeth.

7. Senior Dogs Like Peaceful But More Frequent Walks

When the dog gets older, their body goes through many changes. They don’t have the same energy to run around as they used to. Or they might seem energetic but will congeal shortly.

This happened to my senior, Zico. We went to a dog park and he was so excited to run around the park. But when it was time to walk back home, his moving became cumbersome and he probably was experiencing some joint pain from all that running. Senior dogs must get exercise to maintain muscle mass and have fun, but the exercise needs to be calm and supervised.

Many dogs become incontinent when getting older. Accidents like peeing indoors can happen so don’t yell and scold them for it. Taking your senior out for short walks more often can help this issue and keep accidents at bay.

Conclusion

Taking care of a senior dog requires a little extra attention and care. Regular vet check-ups, a proper diet, and regular exercise are essential to maintain the health and well-being of your senior dog.

Proper nutrition is important to maintain muscle mass, healthy weight, and overall health. Additionally, supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin, and vitamin E can be beneficial for maintaining joint health and mobility, and for supporting the immune system.

Providing your senior dog with love and companionship is essential, they may need more quiet time, but they still need to be part of the family. With proper care and attention, you can help your senior dog enjoy a happy, comfortable life.

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