If there is one thing worth noting, it is that not all senior dogs are necessarily ‘old’ or ‘weak’, they can maintain a healthy life even in their later years if cared for properly. The behavior changes your dog may go through as they age can depend on their breed. Smaller breeds may not get the ‘old man’ status until age 10 or more. Medium-sized breeds around the age of 8 to 10. And larger breeds may start showing signs of aging even as soon as 5 to 6. That said, genetics and lifestyle also play a part in their health.
Before understanding how to help them cope with age, we need to understand the signs that indicate the beginning of aging. Here are some common problems senior dogs face because of age.
Problems that come with age:
Declining organs: As they grow older, just like any other beings, dogs find that their once keen and sharp senses start to dull. These senses can be related to their hearing, their visions, and smell, or something more internal and serious as heart diseases, kidney issues, or gastrointestinal problems making them less active and weakening the muscles controlling their bladder.
Obesity: A dog’s weight can have a surprisingly significant effect on their health. To make things worse, the increased weight leads them to become less active and lazy. Other than the direct effects weight has on their health, being obese can lead to complications in their other seemingly unrelated issues.
Dementia: If not cared for in the right way dogs can see their cognitive process worsen to add to the physical problems. Confusion and disorientation, whining, or barking for no apparent reason, appearing to get lost in familiar surroundings can all be signs of dementia. This phenomenon lacks a cure but certain medications can help cope.
Taking steps to help them age healthier:
Easy access beds: Old dogs tend to develop arthritis or similar joint problems which make moving around more difficult. Further, if their bed is on a height, dogs with failing eyesight would also struggle to get on it at night. installing an easy-to-access bed or building a small ramp will help them immensely.
Age-friendly exercise: Obviously exercise is not something your older dog would be as excited for as they used to once be. But it should be a crucial part of their daily routine so they can maintain an ideal weight and stay the slightest bit active. Light walks, an occasional massage, or even considering seeing a Canine Rehabilitation Therapist (CCRT) could make a world’s difference.
Age-appropriate diet: When it comes down to pets, almost every health-related thing can boil down to their diet. Since older dogs are less active and prone to obesity, it’s important to find dog food that has fewer calories, and that has fat to protein ratio of around 38 to 48 percent.
Taking the right and informed step to keep your older pooch healthy is what will lead them to continue living a healthy and happy life for a much longer time.