Time passes quickly, even for our furry friends. Let us help your senior dog get the most out of their golden years! Read on for tips on keeping your canine friend healthy and happy.
For your average sized pup, they are considered senior once they reach 7 years of age. For smaller or larger breed dogs, this may be a bit different. A Chihuahua, for example, is considered senior when they reach 8 years of age, while giant breed dogs such as Great Danes are considered elderly at age 5!
Once they reach their senior years, their bodies acquire a different set of needs in relation to exercise, diet and preventive medical care. We as pet guardians have an important role to play in both improving our pet’s quality of life and preventing or controlling age-related disease.
Top 5 Tips for Senior Dogs
- Solve health problems as they appear
- Take steps to prevent diseases and pathology related to aging
- Treat existing diseases, by either curing them or managing the progression
- Maintain a healthy weight, including adequate muscle mass and body condition
- Make regular vet checkups a habit – since senior dogs age more quickly than younger ones, we recommend twice-yearly visits to the vet
Your pet dog will need a special senior treatment at home
- Feed your pet a high-quality senior diet. Senior pet food is generally lower in fat and calories, and has a tailored level of specific nutrients, such as protein, potassium, phosphorus, and sodium, to keep their kidneys, liver, and heart healthy. Your vet may also recommend specific supplements for your pup’s issues, such as ones for joint health, immune system, urinary tract issues, skin, and coat health.
- Choose an exercise routine tailored for your senior dog. This will allow them to maintain their ideal body weight and muscle tone, keep their heart healthy, and keep their digestive tracts moving well. Keeping the right weight will also minimize the risk of diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and even cancer. If your senior dog is not used to regular exercise, you’ll need to start slow and gradually increase the workout. We encourage you to consult with your veterinarian before initiating a new exercise regimen for your senior pet.
- Keep the temperature stable and offer your pet comfortable bedding. As they age, your pup may have issues with thermoregulation, so it’s best to avoid extreme temperature changes. You can protect them from the cold with a coat and avoid leaving them outside during extremely hot or cold days. If they have joint issues or arthritis, offer them soft bedding or towels and blankets.
- Extra care and grooming. Age comes with changes in the skin, coat, and nails, such as drier skin, more delicate coat, and brittle nails. Nails may also need more frequent trimming as they no longer wear down as much with the reduced activity. Older dogs with arthritis may have difficulty grooming themselves in the back and may need help with brushing to keep mats at bay.
Vet checkups, vaccination and parasite protection
As your pet ages, regular vet visits become more and more important. Their bodies may start to wear down with age, and they are more vulnerable to different diseases. Most veterinarians recommend older dogs should have regular checkups every 6 months. This provides a better chance to detect issues when they are starting out and gives a better chance to provide effective treatment. Wellness tests include 4 main categories: complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, thyroid hormone testing, and urinalysis. Ask your vet when and why your pet might need these tests.
Just as with younger dogs, flea, tick and internal worm protection are required as always. When it comes to vaccinations, senior dogs may require them less frequently, but do check with your vet to find out what’s best for your pet.
Not all dogs will age the same way. Genetics plays a role in breed-specific conditions, and there is an element of luck involved as well. However, we as pet parents can help by providing our canine companions with an optimal diet, a comfortable home environment, and regular veterinary visits to help them achieve a very happy, comfortable and long life.
Call us at 416-966-1830 or click the button below for an appointment.