Caring for Your
Each passing year can bring health challenges for your aging
dog. Caring for a senior dog requires a
little more work, but you can take steps to ensure that your dog’s quality of
life doesn’t change as they grow older.
Large or giant breed dogs age at an accelerated rate. Large
breeds tend to have a life span of 5-8 years, whereas a small breed can expect
to live 10-14 years. For example, a Saint Bernard would be considered a senior
at 5 years old, but a Toy Poodle would only be approaching middle age.
Nutrition, environment, and genetics all play a role in how fast your dog ages,
Caring for Common
Arthritis is the most common ailment in older dogs, and
large breeds are especially susceptible. You might find that your dog no longer
runs up the stairs or doesn’t like to take long walks like he used to.
Arthritis tends to be worse in overweight pets. As your dog grows less active,
his caloric needs will drop and you could end up overfeeding him. Keeping your
dog on a regular exercise schedule will ease pressure on sore joints and keep
excess pounds off.
Sleeping on the floor or other hard surfaces can be painful
for an arthritic dog. Your senior dog needs a comfortable, supportive bed to alleviate
pressure points and help cushion joints, like the QuietTime Defender Orthopedic
Nesting Bed. This therapeutic bed has also Teflon® Fabric Protector built
into the fabric, so accidental messes due to incontinence can be wiped away.
If your typically housetrained dog starts leaking in the
house, he likely can’t help it. Urinary incontinence in senior dogs is the
result of hormonal imbalances and weakening bladder muscles. Your vet may
suggest hormonal supplementations to treat the imbalance. To manage
incontinence in your house, you could outfit your pup in a doggy diaper, or
place puppy training pads around the house where he is prone to leaking.
Hearing and Vision
Aging dogs also typically deal with hearing and vision
issues. If you suspect hearing loss, trying shaking a bag of his favorite
treats in another room and see if he responds. If your dog has age-related
hearing loss, teach him to communicate with you through hand signals and eye
contact. Be careful not to sneak up behind him as he will startle easily now.
Senior dogs often develop cataracts, which you can spot by a
distinctive cloudy, blush-grey tint over your dog’s eyes. Cataracts cause
blurring and vision distortion, and are often accompanied by other illnesses,
such as diabetes. As your dog’s vision fades, avoid rearranging furniture which
will confuse and disorient him. Try placing a distinctive scent, like lavender
oil, by his food bowl or the door so he can smell his way around.
Schedule regular visits with your veterinarian to stay on
top of any emerging illnesses. Your dog should be examined at least once a
year, even if he seems to be in good health. Many diseases don’t present
obvious symptoms until it’s too late to treat. Giving your senior dog a happy and
healthy quality of life as they age is the best gift you can give them.