Caring for Your Dog in His Senior Years: TLC, Exercise and the Right Diet
According to Pet Health Network, a dog’s senior years begin anywhere from age 8 to 15, depending on breed. Whenever old age sets in, it’s hard to see the dog you raised from a puppy struggling to move around, feeling sick, and suffering from the physical effects of old age. You can’t turn back the clock, but you can keep your friend as healthy and comfortable as possible, surrounded by the love and care of his family.
Well-Nourished, Properly Fed
Your pet’s nutritional needs are as important as ever during his senior years, as is the need to avoid obesity — a major health threat to older dogs. An overweight dog tends to have a shorter life span; is at greater risk for cancer, diabetes, and other diseases; and is more susceptible to orthopedic problems. So, it’s important to pay careful attention to your veterinarian’s dietary recommendations and avoid overfeeding your elderly pet.
Rover may have lost that spring in his step, but he still needs exercise on a regular basis. Physical activity, in whatever form suits your pet, will help him keep the pounds off and work his heart and circulatory system. A daily walk around the neighborhood is an effective way for both of you to get exercise. However, ensure it’s within your dog’s physical capabilities, and consult your veterinarian about concerns for his mobility. A vet can prescribe an anti-inflammatory for arthritis or other problems that keep your furry friend from getting exercise.
Brush Those Teeth
Oral health is especially important for dogs as they age. Healthy teeth and gums fight off bacteria that can spread throughout the body. Regular brushing, professional cleanings, and special foods can help keep plaque and tartar under control and prevent damage to the heart and other organs. As they age, dogs suffering from periodontal disease can lose teeth, which can become a painful situation that may have serious long-term health ramifications.
Changes in an older dog’s activity level and lifestyle may alter the need for some vaccinations. However, it’s important to stay on top of vaccines that prevent parasitic diseases caused by ticks, fleas, and heartworms, which can be especially dangerous to an older dog. Talk to your veterinarian about all necessary vaccines and when they should be given.
You want your pet to do more than just survive, and you’ll do whatever you can to help him thrive. For an older dog, thriving means feeling good enough to remain active. Consider giving your pet CBD oil, a cannabinoid that’s proven effective at helping older pets overcome everything from joint pain and inflammation to anxiety. You’ll want to find the right kind of CBD for your pet, so check out this buyers guide, which features this year’s top 10 CBD oils. Consult with your veterinarian before administering CBD oil to a dog.
Long, matted hair and overgrown nails need regular attention if your dog is in his senior years. Long hair mixed with drool and urine can lead to skin problems (older dogs tend to have thinner, more irritable skin), which may cause considerable pain, so have your pet groomed regularly. A well-groomed dog tends to have fewer skin infections because brushing removes dirt, spreads natural oils, and keeps the skin free of irritants (check for fleas and ticks when brushing).
Dogs thrive on companionship. Their need for attention and care doesn’t diminish when they grow old. If anything, your TLC is even more important, especially if your pet’s hearing or eyesight is in poor shape. If that’s the case, small things like touch or the sound of your voice can be a great comfort and important to his emotional well-being. By taking the steps listed above, you can ensure that your senior pet has many more incredible years ahead!