We all get older, and so do our beloved dogs. As their parents, we should be able to recognize the signs of aging, pain or health issues and treat them the best we can. Some pet owners don’t know how to handle senior dog care, or they simply don’t want to care for an older dog. Pets in this situation are often given to a shelter.
If an older pet doesn’t find a home to spend their golden years in, they will end up being euthanized. Unfortunately, this is the fate that older shelter dogs face the majority of the time.
Medical Issues for Older Dogs
Since dogs and cats live longer than ever due to medical advances for pets (and humans), the chances of illnesses in senior dogs are greater. Luckily, these advances can also bring relief.
The warning signs for aging dogs are varied and are not the same among every breed. In general, senior dogs are not as active as before and their energy levels decrease. They may:
- have difficulty getting out of bed
- become unable to use stairs
- lose interest in their toys
- experience pain
- prefer staying home instead of going for a walk
- have “accidents” at home
Life Expectancies by Breed
Life expectancies vary by size and breed. In general, small dogs can often live to be around 15 to 16 years old, while large and medium dogs typically live to be 10 to 13. Some very large breeds such as mastiffs often only live seven or eight years.
Senior Dog Care Tips and Products
The most important thing to do with an aging pet is to visit the vet on a regular basis. You do not need to go crazy with costly tests, etc. Just talk to your vet about his condition. Be sure to ask about:
- necessary ongoing treatments (if any)
- food types
- how often to visit the vet
For in-home help, first give him lots of love! Then, consider getting some of the many available senior dog care products.
First, keep his weight balanced by giving him senior dog food. If he is not as active as before, be careful with the treats as they have a lot of fat. For tall dogs, you can use a food feeder that suits his height so he does not need to bend for the food.
You might also want an orthopedic dog bed, especially for dogs that have joint problems and arthritis. If the dog sleeps in your bed, place a chair or a ramp next to it so he can climb in.
In addition, let him out more often for his basic needs. If long walks are too hard for him, go on short walks more often throughout the day. Use the bottom-up leash or harness for an arthritic or disabled dog when walking him. It is very important for dogs to move around and not stay in one place for hours. Lack of movement can make pain and stiffness from arthritis even worse. Above all, simply remember that older dogs need love and care just as much as puppies.
By 4-legged.com, The Pet Boutique.