7 Things You Should Be Doing For Your Senior Dog

If there’s one sad fact of life, it’s that dogs get old a lot sooner than we’d like. Did you know that a dog can reach the age of 8 or 9 and be considered a ‘senior dog’? Some even earlier depending on the life expectancy of their breed. They say that one year in a dogs life is equivalent to seven of our years, so keeping a close eye on our dogs as they age and making necessary changes is a must.

If you know your dog is getting older, like our Rosa, you should be looking at appropriate changes to make to keep them happy and comfortable. Even if they aren't considered senior yet, it’ll be helpful to know these things for future reference. 

Read on for 7 things you should be doing for your senior dog:

1. Look For A Suitable, Comfortable Bed

As dogs get older, they tend to suffer more from things like achy joints and arthritis. You might find that their legs get weaker, and that they struggle more to move around. As older dogs also tend to sleep longer than younger dogs, it’s so important that they have a comfortable bed. Look for beds suited especially to older dogs with lots of padding. There are all kinds out there, so consider:

The size - make sure you buy the right size so your dog has plenty of room. 

The features - for example, if your dog is a little incontinent, it could be a good idea to look for waterproof, deodorizing features. 

How easy the bed is to wash and clean - can you take it apart and wash it in the washing machine? 

How durable the bed is - will your dog be able to rip the bed to shreds? 

Make sure you consider all of the above to find the perfect bed for your senior dog.

2. Look At Diet Changes

Nearly every dog will require diet changes as they get older. Different foods are suited to different ailments, whether that’s their joints or whether they have a bad stomach and struggle to eat the same foods that they used to. You can even look into things like glucosamine pet supplements to get them feeling their best again. The food they eat will make a huge difference to their mood. We chose to go grain free with our Rosa. Its definitely changed her mood and her energy levels. She’s much more energetic these days and her digestive system is much happier.

3. Visit The Vet More Often

You may need to make more visits to the vet to ensure your dog is perfectly healthy. Some of these may just be routine visits, others may need to address a problem. Problems in senior dogs should be addressed much faster than in younger dogs, as they tend to progress at a faster rate. Older dogs can experience many issues, from heart murmurs to issues with their sight. Rosa, our senior dog, now has cataracts and she can no longer see. Though in her case this was unavoidable and sustainable. Other dogs sometimes has different experiences, and sometimes need to have their eyes removed or need surgery for other ways of avoiding loss of sight.

4. Stay Active

Just because your dog is now considered a senior dog doesn’t mean they shouldn’t stay active. You probably shouldn’t take them out on super long walks anymore, but you can take them on multiple short walks instead, depending on how much energy they have and how often they seem to want to go out. Some days they may want to be more active than others. You can also make sure they stay active by throwing a ball for them or playing with their other toys. In general, the more active a senior dog stays, the healthier they will be. Rosa still loves walking but there are some days she prefers shorter ones. 

5. Help With Temperature Control

A senior dog tends to have trouble regulating their body temperature like they once did. Ensuring you help them with their temperature control, especially in particularly hot or cold climates is a must. In the winter you may want to purchase a suitable coat for them and cover them with blankets in their bed. In summer you may want to cool them down with a fan and some cool, wet towels. However, you should always do this gradually and keep a close eye on them, as things can change quickly and their bodies can go into shock. 

6. Perform A Little Extra Grooming

As your dog gets older, they tend to need a little extra grooming. They can experience dry skin, coarse hair, and longer nails than before. You may want to spend a little extra time grooming them, which can also be a bonding time for you both.

7. Keep An Eye On Behavioral Changes

Your dog’s behavior may change as they age, and this can be down to a number of things. They may become more anxious and jumpy because they are losing their sight and/or hearing, for instance. You must be gentler with them and more understanding of what they are going through. Rosa requires a lot more attention from us than she used to and more so than Solo, but that’s just what happens when dogs get older. Keeping a closer eye on them and doing all of these things keeps them healthier longer. Its definitely helped her and we’re happy that though she’s now 12 in human years, she’s still very happy and very active regardless of her not being able to see.

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