Aging And Elderly Dog Care

Like humans, dogs at different stages of life have specific care requirements based on the health issues that affect them. For example, while puppies require vaccinations, the healthcare for elderly dogs will revolve around a different set of needs. In general, aging and elderly dogs need a little bit of extra care than younger dogs.

Elderly dog care involves monitoring your pet more carefully to see if weakening health is affecting his behavior. For instance, aging dogs often have changes in appetite and energy level, making it important to keep track of weight changes.

Ages of Elderly Dogs

Many owners dont know when a dog is considered elderly. While this varies for different dog breeds and sizes, dogs are generally considered elderly when they reach age 8. However, large dog breeds tend to age more quickly and can be considered elderly at ages between 5 and 7 years old.

When dogs get older, their organs and functions begin to slow down. Similarly, their eyesight and hearing may also be affected, meaning that dog owners should keep a closer watch on their dogs, especially when he is outside or on stairs. While keeping a close eye on your dog is important, making sure that he has regular veterinarian visits during which vets can check elderly dogs for common afflictions is also recommended.

Things to Know When Caring for an Older Dog

Certain problems and conditions are common for elderly dogs, so owners should watch out for:

  • Arthritis: This will be evident if your dog seems to have trouble moving quickly or jumping up to places that he hadnt had trouble with when he was younger. See your vet, as medication may be able to increase your pets mobility.
  • Gum Disease: Regularly check your dogs gums for inflammation and abnormal color. If the gums dont look healthy, see your vet right away. Oral hygiene products and brushing your dogs teeth regularly with a dog toothbrush can prevent gum disease.
  • Heart Disease: Signs of heart disease include coughing, shortness of breath and sometimes fainting. Rapid breathing may also be observed. If heart disease is caught early, medication can help your dog lead a normal, long life.
  • Skin Disorders: Dry, irritated skin sometimes occurs in older dogs. Owners should brush and groom their dogs regularly and note any changes in fur or skin condition. Regular grooming also increases coat and skin health.
  • Urinary Incontinence: Even if your dog has been housetrained for many years, he may start to urinate more frequently or in places he shouldnt. This may be a problem with your dogs nervous system. If this happens, consult your veterinarian.

Dietary Needs of Elderly Dogs

Many dogs can benefit from an adjusted diet as they age. Because older dogs tend to use less energy than younger dogs, they dont need as much energy from their food.

Many dog foods are specially formulated for older dogs, and a veterinarian can recommend specific foods, supplements or vitamins that may benefit your aging dog. Vitamins and minerals can be especially helpful for aging dogs with certain diseases and conditions, such as a decrease in kidney function.

Because many elderly dogs also experience a lack of appetite, owners may need to be a little bit tricky to get them to eat enough. Here are some tips that can help:

  • Dont leave food out all day. Instead, put it away after about 15 minutes. Sometimes dogs prefer fresh food over older food.
  • Ensure that your dog is not disturbed or in a loud area while hes eating.
  • Instead of feeding your dog once a day, divide his portion into two to four smaller portions.
  • Warm up the dog food to body temperature.

The most important thing about aging dog care is to monitor your dogs actions, activity level and behavior. Any drastic changes could indicate a serious condition, and should not be ignored.