While being a puppy may be the cutest time in your dog’s life, it is his senior years that bring a doting and easeful kind of love that is unlike any other life stage - and some argue, the best. He is extra keen to spend time together and after years of living with you, he likely knows you better than most people do! However, aging also comes with some unique challenges for your dog that can reduce his quality of life if not addressed. Here are some common problems to watch out for, as well as tips to help your dog age gracefully and happily.
You may notice that he has difficulty getting up from a seated position, moves slower or struggles to join you on the couch for movie nights. Signs of limited mobility are due to joint and bone deterioration that is normal, but can be painful. After talking with your vet, the solution here is two fold; providing internal and external assistance.
- Help improve joint health by giving him treats and supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin, which are parts of normal cartilage, as well as antioxidants and Omega-3s.
- Invest in aids such as ramps, lifting-belts and orthopedic bedding to make both movement and rest easier around the home.
- Keep joints limber with gentle exercise, even if it’s just walking around the block, and massage.
Changes to Weight
Canine aging can bring increases and decreases to weight, neither of which are good for him and should be discussed with a veterinarian.
- Overweight and obese dogs have increased problems with mobility and are more susceptible to heart disease, diabetes and even cancer. Talk you your vet about moving him to a senior diet and maintain an age-appropriate exercise routine to help manage weight as he starts getting older.
- Underweight dogs are not getting the nutrients that they need and can struggle with decreased energy levels and much-needed padding for their joints. Work with your vet to find a diet that is appealing and provides the calories and nutrients he needs.
Mental & Emotional Health
Senior dogs can experience changes to memory and mental acuity (Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome aka CDS) that can be alarming. First and foremost talk to your vet to ensure there are no other health problems causing this.
- Make changes to the flow of your home to make access to food, water and outside easy for him, as well as maintain a daily routine to limit confusion.
- Keep him engaged in the world around him and challenge him with play and enrichment activities. Play dates, puzzle feeders and simple games of hide n’ seek or fetch are all examples of ways you can do this.
- Avoid him falling into a sedentary and unengaged lifestyle. Make sure to spend quality time with him every day so he knows that he is loved and supported no matter what.
Teeth, Eyes & Coat
While his vision and oral health are both things you want to pay attention to at any age, they are particular important to monitor later in life. In addition, the condition of his coat is an excellent indicator of overall wellness.
- Watch out for gingivitis and periodontitis, which are common oral health problems for older dogs. Avoid these pitfalls with regular brushing or dental treats, if brushing is not an option.
- Notice if he becomes hesitant to move, especially in the dark, he may be struggling with vision loss. Look out for additional signs such as cloudiness, redness and increased tear production in the eyes, and talk to your vet about solutions.
- Safety and comfort become paramount in the face of vision loss. Making the flow of your home easy to navigate, as previously mentioned, will help ease navigation, minimize the chance for injury, and reduce the mental and emotional stress that spacial changes could cause.
- Watch out for notable changes to health of his coat such as dry patches, thinning or excessive shedding that will alter his natural ability to regulate temperature. Address issues with natural and nutrient rich products that are appropriate for his coat type. Skip sulfates and parabens and look for super-ingredients like Evening Primrose Oil and Royal Jelly.
Isle of Dogs No62 Conditioning Spray With Evening Primrose
Isle of Dogs No 10 Gentle Cleansing Shampoo with Evening Primrose Oil
Isle of Dogs No 20 Volumizing Shampoo with Royal Jelly
While aging is inevitable for us all, including our beloved dogs, it doesn’t have to be unpleasant. Keeping a close eye on physical, mental and emotional health will help you know when changes are occurring and indicate when a trip to the vet is needed. Talking to a professional should always be your first step, followed by some of the tips we outlined above. These are special years in a dog’s life and we know that with a little extra attention and care, you will both enjoy them greatly.