Caring For Your Senior Dog

October 02, 2009

Caring For Your Older Dog from purina.com

Even though your dog may be slowing down, there is no reason the older years can’t be some of the best years. With regular veterinary attention, daily care and proper nutrition, your older dog can still experience a happy and healthy life.

Recognizing Your Dog Is Getting Older

The most practical way to tell if your dog is getting older is by observing his behavior and appearance. Simply put, how old does your dog act, look, and feel? The following are some common signs of aging and what they may indicate about a dog’s health. Use these signs as a guideline in determining if your dog is an older dog.

Changes in Hearing

You can tell if you dog’s hearing isn’t as sharp as it used to be if he doesn’t respond to his name or verbal commands, or suddenly barks for no reason.

Changes in Urination and Housetraining Habits

Excessive thirst and frequent or uncontrolled urination are often signs of kidney problems or diabetes. Inappropriate urination may be a sign of incontinence caused by a hormone imbalance, which is most common in spayed females, or caused by other medical conditions.

Changes in Eating Habits

An older dog is more likely to develop tooth and gum conditions. And because of sore gums or loose teeth, he may let food drop out of his mouth or even refuse to eat.

Breathing Problems

Coughing, difficulty in breathing and tiredness could indicate possible cardiac problems.

Changes in Vision

A hazy, bluish cast on your aging dog’s eyes is normal and usually does not hinder the eyesight. However, the hazy, whitish growth of cataracts can lead to blindness. Your veterinarian can help you distinguish the difference.

Weight Gain or Loss

Like humans, a dog’s metabolism slows down as he gets older. And because older dogs may not be as active as they used to be, they have a tendency to gain weight. Performing a rib check can help determine if he’s overweight. Sudden weight loss or unplanned chronic weight loss should be reported to your veterinarian. This could be a sign of an internal problem.

Skin and Coat

For older dogs, you’ll notice that the skin thickens and becomes less pliable. It’s a good idea to check for large lumps on or under the skin. This could be a sign of a tumor, cyst or cancer.

Tiredness and Lameness

As a dog gets older, you’ll notice a decrease in energy level. He becomes tired more easily and likes to nap often. He can experience stiffness in his leg, hip and shoulder joints. This could just be normal wear and tear, or it could be a result of an old injury or a sign of arthritis.

How Old is Your Dog?

Generally, larger dogs begin aging earlier than smaller breeds. For example, if your dog is a Saint Bernard, he could be considered a geriatric dog as early as six years. But medium-sized dogs don’t usually show signs of aging until nine to eleven years. And small breeds like toy poodles probably won’t show signs until they’re at least eleven. In addition to a dog’s breed, specific lifestyle factors affect a dog’s longevity. Note from Kathy: French Bulldogs seem to age more like larger breeds, due to their brachycephalic type.

To this end, Purina has teamed up with RealAge® to bring you valuable interactive pet health information on the Internet — the complete DogAge® Test.

The test evaluates factors such as health, lifestyle, breed, body condition and exercise to quantify whether a dog is younger or older than the average dog of the same breed. After taking the free test, DogAge.com provides free dog health information, weekly tips and health guides to give pet owners easy, practical ways to help improve their pets’ DogAges.

Take the test today http://www.dogage.com/index.aspx?cbr=PUR1_P

Proper Medical Care

Regular checkups are a must for older dogs. In addition to annual vaccinations and checkups, talk to your veterinarian about special geriatric screenings for your dog. You should be aware of some of the problems seen in the senior dog. It is important to keep a record of any of these warning signs and report them to your veterinarian.

Disease (most often affecting senior dogs)

Warning Signs

Diabetes or Kidney Problems Drinks excessively. Urinates excessively. Weight loss.
Hormone Imbalance Incontinence (uncontrolled urination). Especially present in spayed females.
Arthritis Stiffness and lameness, especially after napping.
Heart or Lung Conditions Frequent coughing. Trouble breathing. Tires easily.
Cataracts Hazy, whitish appearance to the eyes. Can impair vision.
Gum Conditions Bad breath. Trouble eating hard foods because of sore gums and loose teeth.
Tumors or Cysts Large lumps on or under dog’s skin.

Keeping Weight in Check

Heart conditions, joint pain, and diabetes can all be influenced by obesity. Discuss your dog’s feeding program with your veterinarian to be sure he is getting the proper nutrition for his age and activity level.

Proper Nutrition

Aside from regular veterinary care, proper nutrition is one of the most important things you can do to help your dog maintain a long, happy and healthy life. Transitioning your dog to a senior life stage food will help him maintain his weight and give him the extra nutrition he needs.

When Your Dog Has Special Dietary Needs

If your dog is experiencing medical problems, check with your veterinarian to see if he could benefit from a special diet formulated to help meet the special nutritional needs of dogs who suffer from certain heart conditions, gastrointestinal conditions, kidney problems and obesity.

Proper Exercise

Because obesity and arthritis are two of the most common problems experienced by older dogs, regular exercise is very important. However, if your dog does have arthritis, consult your veterinarian before beginning an exercise program.

Daily Routine

Being consistent with a daily routine is also important to your older dog’s physical, mental and emotional health.

Maintaining a Healthy Skin and Coat

As part of your dog’s complete home health care program, you may want to schedule a special grooming session at least once a week. Bathing your older dog regularly is also very important. This is another great opportunity to give your dog that loving attention he needs.

Maintaining Healthy Teeth and Gums

Routine dental care by your veterinarian is very important since older dogs are more prone to gum disease and tartar buildup on their teeth. In addition to regular visits with a professional, it’s always a good idea for you to check your dog’s teeth and gums regularly.

Emotional Needs

It is your responsibility to be sensitive to what your older dog is going through and understand that he’s also experiencing a lot of psychological changes. Daily care of your older dog requires a little more patience on your part.

With your special loving care and commitment, he can enjoy a quality life during these senior years.

The post Caring For Your Senior Dog appeared first on The Blissful Dog® Inc..





Got something to add? Leave it here!

Since I am all about being politically correct (and hating spam-bots), I moderate comments


Also in From The Blissful Dog

BRIGHT, SHINY NEW UPDATES

November 11, 2015

THE BLISSFUL DOG WEBSITE UPDATE & OVERHAUL I know, I know, nobody really cares about all the nuts and bolts parts but me and my team. Alycia and Ashley act like they care, but I suppose they have to since I pay them. Hahaha. Anyhow, if you’ve shopped with us before you may have noticed […]

The post BRIGHT, SHINY NEW UPDATES appeared first on The Blissful Dog® Inc..

Read the rest... →

BOSTON TERRIER NOSE BUTTER REVIEW

August 21, 2015

BOSTON TERRIER NOSE BUTTER REVIEW Never even heard of NOSE BUTTER until about two weeks ago. Once we started searching for something to help my Boston terrier we luckily stumbled upon it. The pictures below are over a four day time frame. Never in a million year would I have thought that the nose butter […]

The post BOSTON TERRIER NOSE BUTTER REVIEW appeared first on The Blissful Dog® Inc..

Read the rest... →

BOXER NOSE FOLLOW-UP

August 19, 2015

BOXER NOSE FOLLOW-UP NOSE BUTTER REVIEW FOR BOXER’S DRY NOSE Hi there, I emailed previously to say your NOSE BUTTER® was really helping my elderly boxers nose. I just wanted to let you know her nose is now back to normal.  It was in a very bad state before using this.  I am usually quite […]

The post BOXER NOSE FOLLOW-UP appeared first on The Blissful Dog® Inc..

Read the rest... →