You may call your senior dog “baby” and “puppy” all the time, but the truth is that they are getting up there in age, and their needs are different than when they were young. Your gray-muzzled buddy needs extra care and considerations to make sure they are healthy and happy. Some of these considerations might be their food, their environment, and their healthcare needs, among other things.
To keep your senior dog in the best shape possible and healthy for many years to come, here are some care considerations for your aging pup.
Food and Diet
The dietary needs of an older dog differ greatly from that of a puppy. Puppies and young adult dogs have different caloric and nutrient needs than seniors, so a one-food-fits-all approach shouldn’t be be taken. If your older dog is currently on an all-ages food, consider transitioning them to a food specially made for senior dogs, and make sure they are without grains, soy, or corn, as well as free of chicken byproduct.
Be sure to watch your dog’s weight, as being overweight can be really hard on senior dogs’ bones and joints, and it can cause heart problems as well as diabetes. Monitor their food intake and adjust their portions in relation to their weight gains and losses to keep them at a good weight for their breed and height. Limit or altogether eliminate any people food, as senior dogs have a harder time digesting and tolerating harsh foods not meant for them.
Also consider adding supplements to help with joints, skin, and digestion health, as these naturally deteriorate with age. You can find treats fortified with supplements meant for joint health, salmon pills or oil to add to their food for their skin and coat health, and add pumpkin or plain yogurt their food to aid in digestion.
While puppies are fairly flexible and resilient in most situations, older dogs have more needs and restrictions when it comes to their environment. Whether it’s living quarters or the climate, senior dogs can’t thrive well in certain places and need special attention to minimize hazardous conditions.
Everyone knows that no dog should be left out in extreme weather, and this rings even more true for older dogs. Senior dogs are more susceptible to heat stroke and hypothermia than younger ones because, as they age, their ability to self-regulate their internal temperature decreases. When your area is having extreme temperatures, hot or cold, be sure to keep your older furry pals inside as much as possible, keep potty times short, and any outdoor exercise in the times with the most comfortable temperatures — early mornings and late evenings for summer and mid-late afternoons in winter. Monitor them for any signs of physical distress when being out in these weather conditions.
Where you live might also be another place you need to consider in relation to your senior dogs health. If you live in an upper-floor apartment or in a house with stairs, you might be noticing that your senior dog is struggling to get up and down them. Arthritis and hip dysplasia are common among older dogs and certain breeds, and stairs might just be too much for them to handle. If you’re not settled or attached to your current residence, consider renting or buying a new place that is single-story or on the first floor. This will help prevent and alleviate any extra pain for your best pal, keeping them happier and more energetic. If it’s within your means, buying a new home is probably your best bet, as finding a pet-friendly place to rent can often be difficult. But, if renting is your only option currently, there are tips out there for renting with pets. Just remember that when moving with a pet, especially an older pet who is likely set in their ways, to take the time to make the transition smooth and as stress-free as possible.
We all know how important health insurance is to our family’s well-being. We need it for important preventative medical care and for emergencies to alleviate the crippling bills that can come with health issues. What many don’t think about is how important and helpful health insurance can be for our furry pals as well.
Pet insurance isn’t well known or widely used yet, but it’s becoming a more popular option in recent years to help alleviate some of the excessive costs of pet healthcare. It’s a must for your senior dogs, who are likely to need more regular and specific care as they age and develop chronic conditions or diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, cancer, and more. Veterinary costs can pile up quickly, just like any health-related bills, and having insurance there to help out and keep your dog in good health for longer will be a great comfort. You’ll be able to take your dog for regular checkups where the vet will be able to monitor their health and catch problems early.
Our senior dogs may not be young pups anymore, but they are still full of life and unconditional love. We need to do our best to keep them healthy and comfortable, and accommodate their extra needs as they age.