Tips for Caring for a Senior Dog

March 21, 2014

All of us who are animal lovers know that when we bring a new four footed furry friend into our family that there will be a time to say goodbye. Old age comes quickly to these loving family members as unfortunately the old classic "one human year equals seven dog years" is very true. 

As a general rule of thumb, a dog who is 7 years or older should be considered middle to senior aged, and you need to educate yourself about older pet considerations. 

  Caring for Your Senior Dog: 5 Important Things to Know

  1. Make sure that your dog gets enough exercise.
    • Exercise is critical to keeping your dog healthy, both physically and mentally. Even if long hikes are not possible, shorter, less strenuous walks will keep him feeling well. Slowing down does not mean stopping.
  2. Schedule regular check-ups with your veterinarian.
    • It is recommended that senior dogs see their vets at least every six months for a check up. If caught early enough, many diseases and health issues, can be treated. Ask your vet about warning signs for health issues common to your breed.
  3. A nutritious diet is essential.
    • Feeding your pet the proper nutrition in their senior years is critical to helping them fight the signs of aging and keeping them active and healthy. Nutrition needs change with age, so make sure you talk to your veterinarian about the type of diet your dog needs. 
  4. Keep your dog at a healthy weight.
    • Extra pounds on older dogs means more stress on their body, including joints and internal organs. Eliminate feeding your dog any table scraps, possibly alter her food to one formulated for senior dogs, and chose doggy treats carefully by examining ingredients. 
  5. Regularly have your dog's teeth cleaned.
    • Vigilant dental care is essential for your dog's overall health. Older dogs  with neglected teeth are at high risk for tartar build--up which in turn can cause gingivitis, which can cause bacteria to get into the bloodstream, weakening your dog’s organs.At-home brushing is a great way to contribute to your senior dog’s good health.

Just as with humans as they age, our dogs need our care and attention even more. It’s up to us to closely watch their health, note changes in their abilities and needs and take measures to keep our pets as healthy and happy as possible in their senior years.