On average, dogs can live for 12 years or more. The size and genetics of dogs determine when they become seniors. Senior dogs start slowing down at this stage, which means more care from their owners. Just like humans, aging for dogs is a slow and gradual process.
As a pet owner, you may notice some physical and behavioral changes. It does not necessarily mean your dog's health will start deteriorating overnight. With proper care, senior dogs can live long, happy, and healthy lives, regardless of age.
How can you ensure your senior dog continues to live a happy, healthy, and comfortable life despite the challenges that come with aging?
Older dogs are more prone to various diseases. At this stage of life, your dog will start to have less energy, meaning less activity. Their immunity will also decrease, meaning they are at a higher risk of developing arthritis, diabetes, liver, or kidney diseases. Take your dog to the vet at La Jolla Veterinary Hospital regularly for preventive care and medical diagnosis.
Your vet will advise how often you need to schedule appointments depending on your dog's age and health status. Most vets recommend checkups once every six months. If your dog has developed incontinence, your vet will offer advice on how to handle the issue. Vaccination and parasite protection are also important for senior dogs.
Senior dogs need more rest. Invest in a soft, cozy bed and place it in an area of minimal activity and noise. Remember, your dog is now not as active as before and may not be able to jump on the bed or sofa.
If you can afford it, it is best to get an orthopedic bed that will be more comfortable. Place the bed downstairs to prevent your dog from using the stairs. Placing mats or carpets around the house is also a good idea to help your dog gain footing and avoid slipping.
Ensure you feed your dog a balanced diet designed for senior dogs. Such foods not only help maintain good health but will also boost their immunity. Be careful what you feed to prevent your dog from developing obesity since they are no longer as active as before.
Feed your dog with food that has lower calories and is low in fat. If your dog is experiencing different health conditions, talk to your vet to recommend a special diet.
While your senior dog may not be as active as before, ensure they get regular exercise. It is vital to help your dog maintain the ideal weight. Regular exercise also helps your dog build stamina. Exercise does not have to be intense.
Take your dog for regular walks and light jogs if they have the energy. If your dog is suffering from arthritis, you may need to talk to your vet about an exercise program that will suit them.
It is often sad for pet owners to see the changes their beloved pets undergo during aging. Senior dogs become anxious when left alone and require more attention. Try to spend as much time as you can with your pet.
You can ask your family members to take turns with your dog to ensure they have as much company as possible. Pet them more, play with them, and provide treats to ensure they stay mentally and emotionally healthy.
For more on caring for a senior dog, visit La Jolla Veterinary Hospital at our La Jolla, California office. Call (858) 454-6155 to schedule an appointment today.