If you have a senior dog, you might wonder what you can do to ensure they are comfortable in their old age. Dogs age much faster than humans, so it’s essential to take extra care of them as they start to get up there in years. Check out these tips on geriatric dog care to help your furry friend enjoy their golden years!
What, Exactly, IS a Geriatric Dog?
“Geriatric” is a term used to describe the later stage of an animal’s life. In dogs, this typically refers to ages seven and up. Just like their human counterparts, our furry friends begin to experience some changes as they age. Their bones and muscles may not be as strong as they once were, they may be more susceptible to illness and disease, and they may have a decreased ability to fight off infection. All of these factors can lead to a decrease in the quality of life for our senior pups.
So, what can we do to help our geriatric dogs age comfortably? Here are a few tips. We’ll talk about each one in more detail below, along with some others.
- Keep up with routine check-ups and vaccinations. This will help ensure that any health concerns are caught early and treated appropriately.
- Make sure your dog is getting plenty of exercise. This will help keep their bones and muscles strong, and can also help reduce stress levels.
- Provide a nutritious diet. A healthy diet can help boost your dog’s immune system and give them the energy they need to stay active and enjoy their later years.
- Consider supplements. There are many supplements on the market that can help senior dogs with everything from joint pain
Geriatric Dog Care Dos and Don’ts
First things first, ALWAYS consult your vet prior to making any changes to Fido’s diet, exercise routine, or medications (and that includes supplements). These tips are NOT meant to replace an expert’s opinion. Speaking of your veterinarian…
1. DO Keep Up with Vet Visits
As your dog enters his senior years, it’s essential to keep up with vet visits. Your vet can help you keep your old pup comfortable by monitoring his health and recommending any necessary changes in care. Senior pups typically need to see the vet every 6 months, as opposed to once a year for their younger counterparts. If your dog has a serious medical condition, though, he may need to go even more often.
2. Don’t Neglect Vaccinations & Parasite Control
As the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) explains, “Older pets’ immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals; as a result, they can’t fight off diseases or heal as fast as younger pets.” So, as your dog enters his senior years, it’s essential not only to continue regular check-ups with the vet but to also keep up with his vaccinations. Vaccines help protect your dog from several major diseases, some of which could be fatal. The same goes for parasite control. Don’t assume that you can skimp on flea and tick medicine just because Fido doesn’t spend as much time outdoors as he used to.
3. DO Ask Your Vet About Supplements
As your dog enters his senior years, he may begin to experience some health issues. Several supplements can help, but you must talk to your vet first. Some supplements may interact with medications your dog is already taking, so it’s best to get the all-clear from your vet before starting anything new.
Hemp & Hips for Senior Large Breed can help large breeds with achy and painful joints. It allows dogs to regain youth and vitality while relieving muscle soreness and joint stress. This supplement is 100 percent natural, formulated by veterinarians, and manufactured in the United States in a GMP and FDA-approved facility.
Another recommended supplement for dogs is Daily Senior Overall Wellness. Your senior dog will enjoy these soft chews’ delicious rotisserie chicken flavor. The ingredients adhere to strict US quality standards, are never sourced from China, and are free of grain, soy, fillers, byproducts, and artificial colors and flavors.
4. Don’t forget about their teeth!
One important aspect of geriatric dog care that is often overlooked is dental care. Like humans, dogs can suffer tooth decay and gum disease as they age. Be sure to brush your dog’s teeth regularly and take them to the vet for professional teeth cleaning every year.
5. DO Consider switching senior dog food.
As your dog enters his senior years, he may start to experience a decline in his health. One way to help offset this is by switching to an old dog food formula. These formulas are designed to give your dog the necessary nutrients to maintain his health as he ages. However, they should consult with their veterinarian before making any dietary changes.
6. Don’t Let Your Dog Become Overweight.
Caring for your senior dog, like caring for any pet, can be difficult. Aside from the fact that most dogs become increasingly independent as they age, there is also the issue of their weight. Many people underestimate the importance of their dog’s weight and overfeed them out of guilt or ignorance. This isn’t good for your dog or your health; keeping your senior dog at a healthy weight will make both of your lives easier.
7. DO Continue Exercising Your Senior Dog
Dogs age and mature in the same way that humans do. When you own a dog, you quickly realize how quickly time passes. Compare watching a dog grow up to watching someone or something grow old. According to research, your senior dog will benefit from continued exercise. Exercise not only helps your dog’s heart and muscles, but it also keeps them mentally sharp by stimulating their minds.
It’s best to consult your vet to determine which activities are safest for your senior dog’s exercise routine—but these ten suggestions can help keep your dog feeling like a puppy.
- Go for a walk
- Take a stand
- Try the Treadmill
- Go swimming
- Find a physical therapist
- Play hide-and-seek
- Stay low
- Have a tug of war
- Ask about supplements
- Remember less is more
For more tips, check out our post on 10 Ways to Exercise Your Senior Dog (and Why You Should)
8. Don’t Forget to Exercise Their Minds.
Don’t forget to keep their minds active. It’s easy to overlook your pet’s need for mental stimulation, but they must stay sharp. If a dog has nothing else to do but snack on the floor or chase his tail, he will begin to feel as if its world is shrinking, affecting his overall mood and well-being. According to the AVMA, “Pets can show signs of senility.” Interactions that stimulate them can help keep them mentally active.”
9. DO Make Your Home Safer & More Comfortable
There are certain things you can do to make the lives of elderly dogs safer, easier, and more comfortable. A senior dog is much less prone to accidents if the home is clean and everyone follows basic hygiene rules. On the other hand, a bad environment can be a source of annoyance, resulting in a dull life.
10. Don’t Let Them Suffer
If your dog is in constant pain, please don’t let him suffer. This is the hardest geriatric dog care tip to talk about, and definitely the hardest to follow, emotionally speaking. I know from experience how difficult it is to let go, but it’s a part of responsible dog ownership.
As your dog enters his golden years, you may notice changes in his behavior or appearance. These changes are a normal part of the aging process, but there are things you can do to help your senior pup stay comfortable. Following these tips for senior dog care, you can ensure your furry friend stays happy and healthy well into his old age.