It’s no secret that dogs require more attention, patience, and compassion as they age. But the tricky part is knowing when your dog should be considered elderly. It’s important to know this so that you can get ahead of the curve on preventable health problems. Larger breeds (e.g., Saint Bernards, Irish wolfhounds) age more quickly and are often considered senior at age 5 or 6. Smaller breeds (e.g., Yorkies, Malteses) typically become senior at age 10 or older, and medium-sized dogs fall between age 8 or 9.
Once you have an idea of when your dog is transitioning into their golden years, it’s essential to take steps in ensuring their well-being. To get you started, here are four tips for caring for your elderly dog.
1. Go the vet regularly
There are numerous health issues that are common among aging dogs. Here are just a few:
Heart and liver disease
For this reason, your veterinarian visits become increasingly important as your dog moves along in years. Rather than go for the annual visit you may be accustomed to, begin to take them at least twice a year. This can help you stay in front of health issues so that they can be prevented or at least be treated early.
A newer treatment that is proving effective for many senior pets is CBD oil. This oil can help with a variety of physical health issues, including inflammation, joint pain, skin problems, as well as mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, and phobia. There’s a chance that CBD oil can help your dog thrive, so it may be worth your time to research it. This CBD buyer’s guide is a good place to start, as it covers the 10 best oils of 2019. It’s important to note, however, that you should never give your dog a new treatment without first consulting your vet. Also alternative and complementary treatments such as accupuncture, chiropractics and reiki are becoming more accessible for pet’s not only in major cities but also small towns where these practitioners may travel.
2. Improve your dog’s diet
Your dog’s diet is another essential factor in their health. Not only does a proper diet help your dog feel good, but it also helps you manage their weight. Weight is much more than just appearance. When dogs are overweight, they are at higher risk for heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and so on. Since there are many opinions about the best dog foods and diets, it’s best to ask your vet for suggestions as well as do some market research on your own. A dog should be getting a diet of at least 50% wet food before their golden years, so after it likely will need to increase. They should be able to take your dog’s age, lifestyle, and health into consideration and provide you with sound options—including specialized diets for certain conditions (obesity, arthritis, heart or kidney disease, etc.).
3. Remember dental care
Dental care is also important to your dog’s overall health as a senior. It’s not uncommon for dogs to lose teeth when they’re older because of improper care. However, the more pressing matter is that neglect of care can lead to dental disease. This kind of disease is usually painful for the dog, and it can make eating difficult, which in turn can lead to malnutrition. Make brushing your dog’s teeth and other forms of dental care part of your care routine. There are many useful doggie dental products on the market no matter your pup’s oral hygiene routine today.
4. Exercise with your pet
Finally, just like with humans, dogs needs their exercise. Not only does regular physical activity help with weight control, it strengthens your dog’s muscles, joints, and heart. The appropriate amount and type of exercise will depend largely on age, breed, and current health. For instance, many larger breeds, such as a Dogue de Bordeaux, are not meant for sprints; rather, good exercise for them may involve pulling weight at a slower pace. Conversely, a Border Collie may need several sprints a day to get enough exercise. Like with dieting, it’s best to consult your vet on a specific exercise regimen for your dog.
Our furry companions deserve the very best as they get older. Help your elderly dog thrive by taking them to the vet more often, finding a diet that meets their needs, practicing dental care, and exercising with them. Ensuring your dog’s well-being will not only bring them health, it will bring you peace of mind.
Photo Credit: Pexels
This article was contributed by Jessica Brody.