We have a senior dog who has a very limited amount of time left on this earth, however we are doing our best to make him comfortable. Each breed has different life spans so while taking care of your aging dog you need to adapt his environment for his comfort. As dogs get older, they develop aches, joint pain, generalized weakness and an almost definite increase in medical problems. Our dog has cataracts, is hard of hearing, has bad arthritis and has recently gotten stuck in the dog door because he couldn’t pick up his hind legs up. Here are some things to keep in mind for your elderly dog:
- Adjust his surroundings to minimize discomfort. Protect him from excessive heat and cold. Older dogs are unable to regulate body temperature as a younger dog. We found that as our dog got older he stopped sleeping on his dog bed and started sleeping on the tile. I think the coolness of the tiles felt good to him. But unfortunately we tore up our tile and put in hardwood floors so now he sleeps on the cement floor in the garage and he loves it!
- Try to give your dog regular exercise. Make sure your dogs health matches his exercise routine. If your dog exhibits signs of heavy panting or opposes exercise you need to change his routine. Our dog is 14 and his hips are really bad so he doesn’t do a lot of walking. Instead we have a tug rope and we play tug of war with him while he is laying down. It’s not exercise but he loves to play with us and it keeps his mind stimulated.
- Adapt his diet and feeding schedule to his needs. As dogs age they are less active and need fewer calories. Prescription diets are available. Discuss special diets with your veterinarian.
- Older dogs can experience hearing loss and declining eyesight. Accommodate for his safety. Our vet told us to clap really loud when approaching our dog so that we did not startle him when he wasn’t expecting it. Sometimes dogs can get nippy when they are startled.
- Senior dogs require special dental care. They are more likely to develop gum problems and disease. Complete dental cleaning should be performed by your vet every six months which does require anesthesia. Make sure complete bloodwork is performed.
- Older dogs need extra bathing and grooming. Dry skin can be a normal part of aging or it can be a sign of an underlying medical condition. They also require more frequent nail trimming. Unfortunately our dog can no longer get in the car so we have a mobile grooming unit some out and groom him. It is well worth the extra money.
Take into consideration his age in human years. If he is 13 in dog years, he may suffer the same aging ailments as a 75 year old human. Continue with bi-annual vet exams. Senior dogs need extra care with their aging problems. Give his life quality! Keep those memories alive!