The needs and overall care of dogs change as they age. Dog owners need to do their best at paying attention to the side effects of aging which will help their dog be more comfortable in their later years. Most dogs enter their senior years at around 7 years old, but a little sooner for larger dog breeds. What happens is that they begin to slow down, gain weight more easily and some of their senses may start to dull. We are happy to provide a few tips for caring and adapting to your senior dog.
- Senses. If you think that your dog is starting to ignore you, please think twice! In the event of hearing loss, one of the ways that you can prepare for a smooth transition it to start using hand signals at the early stages. Vision loss is another problem which comes with subtle signs. Help your dog by clearing clutter from the floor, marking different rooms with different scents and most importantly, blocking off dangerous areas. Keep familiar things like furniture, food, and water dishes in the same place.
- Anxiety. If it is indeed simply the effects of aging, you can help reduce your dog’s anxiety by keeping floors free up clutter, taking more frequent short walks or playing games or food puzzles to increase their mental stimulation. Please be as patient as possible, since your dog can still pick up on your mood. You do not want to add to their anxiety.
- Body Temperature. There’s a reason why older dogs like warm cozy beds — it’s not as easy to regulate body temperature. A dog who could handle hanging outside all day on a chilly day will likely need a sweater when out and a bit more time inside with a bed close to the heater. Helping your dog keep their body temperature up will help minimize joint and muscle stiffness, and even help him stave off illnesses since their body won’t be focused entirely on staying warm.
- Joint Pain. When joint pain sets in, anti-inflammatory pain relievers prescribed by a vet could be helpful. You can also provide ramps where a dog needs to climb stairs, take shorter but more frequent walks, provide opportunities to swim or have other non-impactful exercise, provide them with an orthopedic bed and elevated food and water dishes, and even simple measures like not calling them to come to you when he’s lying down unless it’s necessary.
- Confusion. A loss of cognitive ability is common with aging. Your dog may forget simple things like how to navigate around an obstacle or even get lost in areas they are not familiar with or not recognize people they know. You can help your dog with medications and supplements as well as simply being more patient with them and helping them when they get confused or lost.