Updated: May 17
Caring for an older dog needn’t be arduous task.
In fact, if you are considering taking on an older dog as a pet or your longstanding canine companion is entering their middle age, the bond you have can only intensify, and the care you give them simply has to adapt to their needs.
So, what are the top tips for caring for an older dog?
What are the areas to consider, and how should you adapt to ensure your loyal doggy friend is happy and remains healthy?
Here at Lancashire Vet Physio, we are always looking at innovative ways of improving your pet’s wellbeing, so we thought we would put together our Top 5 Tips for Caring for an older dog.
Read on to find out!
Caring for an older dog by watching their diet
As with humans, a dog’s metabolism will slow down with age.
They need fewer calories, and it will take longer to process the food, (i.e., the calorific content), they eat as they become less energetic, and their metabolism takes on a slower pace to reflect their senior years.
With this, it becomes more of a priority to limit their food intake and pay more attention to their dietary requirements.
They may need more protein, or they may need to be on a special diet recommended by your vet.
Either way and as with humans, a poor diet can lead to problems such as diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
All of which can have a life limiting impact on your beloved pet.
Caring for an older dog through exercise
If you have noticed your dog is slowing down, this isn’t an excuse to stop taking them for a walk.
All dogs need their exercise, including those of senior years.
However, if you are used to climbing hills or running alongside your dog, make sure you put their needs first by shortening your walks and keep them to a gentle terrain.
Osteoarthritis is a common condition which can affect dogs in their senior years, so if you continue to exercise at the same rate you may be doing more harm than good, and your dog could be in some considerable pain.
And whilst we are talking of exercise, don’t forget to keep your dog mentally active by providing gentle stimulating toys for them. This will keep their mind active and help their overall wellbeing.
Caring for your older dog by looking after their teeth.
Looking after their teeth is a fundamental part of caring for your older dog and maintaining their overall health and wellbeing.
If you brush their teeth daily and take them to the vet for regular dental hygiene check-ups, this can prevent the build-up of Periodontal disease which can lead to painful inflammation of the gums.
You can buy treats that are good for dental hygiene from pretty much all pet stores and supermarkets and keep an eye out for toys which may actually do more harm than good from being too abrasive.
And as mentioned before, if you need to consider a special diet for your dog be aware of the calorific content in any treats. Including ones that promote oral hygiene.
These can often have a high calorific value and actually be of little benefit to your dog's teeth!
Look for products that come with a vet recommendation to make sure you aren't unwittingly adding to any long term issues around the weight of your canine best friend.
Visit your Vet regularly.
Taking your pet for a once over from the vet should be a consideration every six months.
They are trained to look out for early signs of disease and illness that if left, could prove to have devastating consequences.
A regular check-up will involve checking your dog’s weight, teeth, and overall physical fitness. If they have any cause for concern they can put programmes in place to support your dog’s health.
Including a potential referral to a Vet Physio who will be professionally qualified to deal with any ailments affecting joints and muscles, including post-surgery rehabilitation.
Caring for your older dog by being patient
Okay, so an older dog does not have the same energy and is not as much fun as a six-month-old pup, nor do they have the same ‘aww factor’ to friends and family.
That said, an older dog is a fantastic and loyal companion, and they deserve your patience.
Take your time adjusting to new routines or when adapting your home to their needs as they get older.
The average lifespan for a dog is around 12 years, so considering they are part of your family who have brought you joy and friendship having patience with them is an absolute must as they get older.
And let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger, and it’s what we would hope for in our old age!
So, if you have an older dog in your household and you are looking for ways of ensuring their care is as good as it can be, or, if you have been referred to a Vet Physio by your regular vet for additional support, then contact us here or call Tilly on 07568 309 221.
Tilly is a fully qualified and experienced Vet Physio who has lots of top tips and advice for caring for any dog,
especially to make sure they have a full and healthy lifestyle well in to their old age!