I am getting older and have not been well lately so I thought it timely to discuss older dogs. So much information is provided on puppies but aging dogs are not often discussed. Hopefully, you will all have an older dog if you have a puppy. Older dogs (seniors) require extra considerations as they age.
The term 'senior' dog describes an aging pet. Sadly larger breeds have a shorter life span (as a general rule) and as such can be considered senior from the age of 5. Smaller dogs tend to have a longer lifespan so may not be considered senior until around 10 years. Senior dogs are likely still healthy but may be starting to show signs of age. Towards the end of their lives, they may be considered 'geriatric' when they have more health related issues.
Some of the physical signs you may see in aging dogs:
greying around the muzzle
not running around as much as they used to, or moving stiffly
not climbing up on furniture
bad breath (which could be a result of dental disease)
change in sleeping patterns
urinating more and/or in different locations
weight changes and/or change in muscle tone, coat texture (not as shiny)
signs of aggression and less tolerance
wanting more attention, or less attention
reluctance to be picked up
Dogs can also get a form of 'Dog Dementia' - Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (CCD). This could manifest in a range of ways (including some of those mentioned above). Click here for a fabulous resource on CCD. As with any changes we identify, a Veterinary examination is the first step to identify what is going on and how we can best assist our dog(s) moving forward. There could be any number of reasons for the changes you are seeing. Your Vet may recommend a specialised diet or injections or medications. The earlier you identify any changes in health, the earlier you can help your dog. Unchecked health issues may significantly affect your dog's quality of life and even reduce your dog's lifespan.
Adaptations at home that can help senior dogs:
change the location of dog beds for sleeping so they are away from draughts and heat.
bring outside dogs inside where they are warm and protected during cold weather
provide air conditioning or shaded areas during warmer weather
provide clear access for dogs with reduced eyesight to prevent them from bumping into furniture
use non slip flooring to prevent slips and falls
separate younger dogs from older dogs so they are not jumped on if they are sore with arthritis
Make sure beds are firm and supportive
Dogs offer humans friendship and unconditional love for many years. We owe it to our older dogs to give them the best of care whilst you can.
Our humans are their world and a safe place to fall... Have a great day,