There’s something uniquely endearing about a senior dog. They might be older, but they’re also wiser. Their calm and caring characters have a newfound tenderness that only brings you closer. And the odd bursts of energy that prompt them to unleash their inner puppy makes you wish they stayed one forever.
But as much as we all want that to be true, it’s important to consider the health conditions that your canine friend may be more prone to as a senior. Even the healthiest dogs can experience problems as they age. Knowing what to look out for will help you address any issues before they cause harm.
Of course, prevention is better than cure, so let’s start by taking a look at what you can do to keep your senior pup in tip-top shape as they enjoy their golden years.
Caring for a Senior Dog
Diet: Being less active increases the risk of obesity, so be sure to watch out for overeating. Look for a food that’s lower in calories and capable of meeting your dog’s nutritional needs. Protein is particularly important here. Fibre can help with constipation, while sodium is best kept to a minimum as older dogs are more susceptible to dehydration.
Exercise: Regular physical activity is paramount to any dog’s health, even as a senior. Just remember to take it slow and be patient when going for walks.
Checkups: Try to visit the vet at least once every six months. They can detect if something is wrong at an earlier stage.
Oral Health: A daily tooth wash or (or dental treat if you struggle) will keep your canine’s canines free from disease. This is especially important if they didn’t receive proper dental care in the past.
Grooming: Prevent dry and itchy skin by giving your pup a regular wash. Look for natural shampoos that don’t cause irritation. Don’t forget to brush their coat every few days.
Special Needs: Mobility doesn’t come as easy for senior dogs. They can also experience vision problems. Accommodate for their needs by helping them get around without struggling to climb or bumping into furniture.
Attention: Too much time alone can make your senior dog anxious. Make lasting memories by spending plenty of quality time with them.
Paying attention to these factors can go a long way in helping your senior dog stay healthy. However, they can’t prevent everything. Here are the health problems that you need to be aware of.
Dogs can experience mental health issues as they get older. Dementia is one of them. Symptoms include confusion, disorientation, and bathroom accidents. Random barking and whining for no clear reason is another tell-tale sign. That said, it’s best to consult a vet as these symptoms can be caused by other conditions.
Hearing and Vision Loss
Degeneration in eye and ear tissue causes varying degrees of impairments in senior dogs. Cataracts, which look like a cloudy layer over the eyes, is a particularly common problem that can cause blindness. While cataracts can be fixed with surgery, hearing loss is usually permanent. Slow the progression with frequent ear clean-ups.
An increasingly common disease among dogs, pancreatitis causes eating problems, diarrhoea, and lethargy. While there’s no specific cause, inflammation resulting from processed foods with harmful ingredients is considered the main culprit.
If you want to find the right food for dogs with pancreatitis, this site has details. There you’ll find an in-depth guide on the disease and its symptoms, as well as how it can be alleviated. Bella & Duke sell natural raw dog food, which is worth looking into if you want to improve your senior pup’s health.
Among older dogs, osteoarthritis is a major cause of joint pain and stiffness. This is another area where nutrition plays a key role. There’s no known cure for osteoarthritis, but feeding nutrient-rich food will certainly help in terms of prevention. Additional treatments are available that can slow progression and reduce pain.
This is another disease that senior dogs are unfortunately more prone to. Lumps and bumps can point to cancer, but they can also be something less serious. Take your pup to screenings on a regular basis, to ensure that any deeper tumours are identified early on.
With their digestive system not functioning as well as before, a senior dog can develop problems with their kidney. Once again, nutrition is the key to prevention. Keep in mind that certain medications meant to treat other conditions can lead to kidney issues. Taking your dog for blood work at least twice annually will improve their chances.
As a loving owner, it can be unnerving to think about the potential problems your dog might face as a senior. But as long as you take the necessary preventative measures, it’s something you won’t have to worry about.