Lumps, bumps, reduced mobility, loss of hearing and eyesight, and behavioural changes are just some of the differences you may notice in your dog as they age.
In this month's article, we provide some essential tips for keeping your dog happy, healthy and comfortable in their senior years.
At what age is my dog considered a senior?
In general, larger dog breeds age faster than smaller dog breeds.
Genetics, nutrition and environment will all influence how fast your dog ages.
As a general guide, dogs aged 7+ years are commonly considered to be seniors.
Regular vet check-ups
An annual health check for a dog is roughly equivalent to us humans only visiting the doctor once every seven years.
As your trusty companion ages, changes will occur at a faster rate, so it is essential that you schedule a regular check-up to ensure early detection and prevention of any underlying health problems.
Our vets will conduct a thorough nose to tail examination including eyes, ears, skin, joints and teeth. We may also recommend blood tests or other diagnostics from time to time depending on your dog's condition and well-being.
Regular exercise is essential for maintaining muscle and joint health, and a normal weight.
However, conditions such as arthritis can be exacerbated by activities such as ball chasing, jumping and play with other dogs. As your dog slows down in old age, a gentle walk may be all that is required.
If your dog shows any signs of lameness, has difficulty rising or tires more easily, please contact us for an appointment and rest your pet until you receive further advice from our vets.
Senior dogs have different nutritional requirements than puppies and younger dogs.
It is essential to feed your dog a premium food that meets your dog's changing health condition and lifestyle. As your dog's activity levels decrease you may also need to adjust portion sizes to prevent obesity, which can result in a higher risk of diabetes, heart disease or other conditions such as cancer.
Speak to our vets at your next consultation and we will recommend the best prescription diet for your dog based on their individual health requirements.
As our pets continue to age, they become less capable of grooming themselves, resulting in a dull coat and painful matts or knots. Brushing your dog regularly will help to prevent those nasty tangles and keep your dog's coat looking shiny and healthy.
If your dog is no longer wearing his nails down naturally by walking on the road or footpath, keep their nails trimmed by either clipping them at home or booking in a nail clip with one of our friendly vet nurses.
Bedding and Furnishings
Stiff and sore joints can be eased by providing your dog with supportive bedding such as an orthopaedic bed containing memory foam.
Ensure that the bed is easily accessible and does not have a lip that may cause your dog to trip over.
Extra blankets in winter will help to alleviate joint stiffness, and rugs on hard floors will provide a surface that is easier for your dog to walk on without slipping.
Steps and Ramps
Help to minimise further impact and stress on your dog's joints by providing steps to access furniture or a ramp to assist with getting in and out of the car.
Reduced activity can result in boredom and some dogs may experience anxiety in their old age.
Stick to regular routines as much as possible, provide toys such as feeding puzzles for mental enrichment and take your dog outside to sniff the garden if you think they would benefit from a change of scenery in between walks.
Helping your older dog to navigate their world and manage health issues related to ageing is a natural part of your journey together, however you don’t have to do it alone. If you have any concerns or questions our team is here to help.
To book a veterinary consultation for your older dog, call us on 9300 2727 or Book Online here.