Dog retirement - elderly dogs and their needs
Getting old is a common part of life and all dogs become seniors at some point. Every 52 days count as one year in dog's life. It is important to know that older dogs have totally different care requirements than young dogs and you should definitely have this in mind if you have one at home.
Not all dogs are considered seniors at the same age. It depends on their size and breed. Small breeds are considered getting old after their tenth year. Medium-sized breeds, such as Labrador Retriever, become seniors at age of 8-10 years and large breeds at age of 6-8 years. It is therefore important to notice the first signs of aging and adjust the care of them accordingly. With increasing age, they begin to move more slowly and have some difficulty walking; their eyesight is no longer that sharp, it is harder for them to hear, and they are also more susceptible to various diseases. While dog aging may seem like a sad topic to some of us, it is not...they can still enjoy those years fully and stay in a good shape thanks to your great care. How can we help them?
ADJUST THEIR DIET
A balanced diet plays a big role in keeping a senior dog in shape. Due to the fact the dog no longer overflows with such an amount of energy and has less exercise, he is exposed to a higher risk of obesity. Therefore, it is important to find the best food low in fat and calories, which will prevent weight gain.
Regular exercise will help your dog maintain an ideal weight and will also have a positive impact on his overall health. It is best to consult it with your veterinarian, who knows best what physical exertion your dog is still capable of. Be patient, your dog won't be able to sport as much as when he was young, but if you give him regular walks, his physique will still be fine.
PERIODIC CHECK UPS AT THE VET
Regular veterinary care is one of the most important factors in caring for an older dog. With higher age the immune system weakens and that puts your dog in higher risk of getting any disease. Therefore, most veterinarians recommend preventive visits every six months. It will help to catch in time if something is wrong and if so, to find the best possible treatment too.
Surely you have seen a senior dog missing a few teeth. If you don't want your pet to end up like that, focus on his regular dental care even more than you did when he was younger. Your vet should check your dog's teeth regularly as well and advise you on how to take care of them. You can brush the teeth, give your dog dental treats or toys with spikes or dental rope helping to massage gums.
The dog's coat that was once luxuriously rich and shiny, can later be dull and almost matte. Seniors can also suffer from dry, scaly and irritated skin, which can even worsen by insufficient care. We recommend using only gentle shampoos that nourish and calms down the irritated skin and hair. Don't forget to brush your dog regularly too. You will support a good blood flow in the skin, plus, a little massage never kill somebody, so let your dog have a spa day. ;)
EASIER MOVEMENT AROUND THE HOUSE
Older dogs often develop arthritis or hips and joint problems affecting their mobility. They have troubles jumping on a bed at night or walking up the stairs. In these cases, provide the dog an easily accessible place to sleep and rest in; a high quality dog bed, for example with orthopedic memory foam mattress. To prevent your dog's injury by jumping on something you can put a special additional ramp or stairs near your coach or bed, or add a kid's gate to avoid entering the stairs.
SPENDING TIME TOGETHER
Aging is a completely normal part of life, but it is often difficult to watch how your beloved dog is changing. The best thing you can do for him is to live in the moment and keep all the memories together. A senior dog can easily feel anxious if he does not feel his owner by his side, so try to spend as much time with him as possible.
Even though he may no longer see or hear you well, he still needs your presence to stay mentally well. Instead of focusing on age, take the old furry pup for a walk, play a bit with him and reward him with some treats and a lot of back rubs. Treat your best friend kindly, with respect and patience, give him love and attention every day. Your dog did that for you all his life, didn't he?