It comes to us all, but sadly to our four pawed friends all too soon, old age. Dogs age at different rates depending on breed and genetics a bit like us. So there are no hard and fast rules on when your dog is old. However, below are some of the things you should keep an eye on as your dog’s years’ advance.
Exercise – As dogs age they may struggle to do those long walks and become couch potatoes. Exercise should be tailored to your dog’s capabilities but keeping them moving will stave off some of the issues of obesity and arthritis.
Weight control – As dogs slow down and get less exercise weight gain can become an increasing issue ironically just at the time their body could do without it. Carrying too much weight in later years can increase mobility issues and worsen symptoms of arthritis. It will also put more strain on their hearts and other organs and almost invariably shorten their life expectancy.
Diet – As at all times of life a good quality diet but as your dog looks older looking to tailor that food to either vet recommended diets or just senior or light diets maybe required.
Arthritis – Some dogs more than others experience arthritis but most in the latter years suffer some degree. Your vet can advise you better but it may help to start supplementing their diet with DHA & EPA supplements (Glucosamine & Chondroitin). It may also help to relook at their bed and make sure it providing enough support, warmth and is accessible for them. If things have progressed significantly and they are struggling to get in and out of the car or onto the sofa you can get special ramps or steps for them that easily fold away that may help them feel more independent and save your back lifting them.
Dental – The condition of teeth and gums can also pose a challenge in old age. Infections in the mouth can impact many other areas of the body including the heart. Even if you haven’t earlier in their life, you can try brushing their teeth. There are many quite tasty special dog toothpastes which can actually make the experience enjoyable. Doggie kisses might be more pleasant too! If things are too bad and your dog is young enough and healthy enough to still undergo sedation your vet can help with a scale and polish and remove any teeth that could be causing your dog grumbling pain.
Vet visits – Like humans it is important as dogs get older they get regular health checks. Going to the vet at least annually for vaccination and to review the above signs of aging is a must. Ensure worming is up to date and ears are kept clean and nails are kept short.
The grey hairs increase but so does our love for them, so be age health aware in canine care.