How Do I Know When My Dog Is a Senior?
While your dog may still look and behave like a young dog, the reality is that between the ages of 5 – 7 your dog becomes a senior (5 for larger dog breeds, 7 for smaller dog breeds). The most common physical signs are greying of the coat, particularly around the muzzle area. However, there are some more subtle physical and mental changes that dog’s experience which owners should be aware of.
- Thinner fur
- Decreased hearing ability
- Increased sleeping
- Less active, or tiring quicker than usual
- Blinding of the eyes.
How Often Should My Senior Dog Visit the Vet?
Your senior dog should visit the vet twice yearly for a wellness check-up. This will allow the vet to detect, treat and help prevent problems before they become life threatening. This is also a perfect opportunity to ask about your senior dogs nutrition, behaviour, dental health and any other pressing issues.
Common Health Issues for Ageing Dogs
Senior dogs are living longer and increasingly suffering from many of the same chronic health issues as humans, these include:
- Kidney and liver disease
- More frequent intestinal problems
- Prostate disease and testicular cancer
- Breast cancer and infected uterus
- Arthritis and degenerative joint disease
- Cognitive problems
Be sure to look out for any unusual symptoms, such as excessive urination, change in weight, decreased agility, difficulty chewing, behavioural changes and digestive upsets. It is recommended to promptly call your vet if you notice any of these symptoms.
Providing Comfort for your Ageing Dog
- Your senior dog should be kept warm and dry, preferably indoors – while they are not outside for exercise. Senior dogs are unable to regulate body temperature as effectively as they used to and are extra sensitive to the weather.
- Be aware of your senior dogs surroundings, especially if your senior dog is losing eyesight. Removing obstacles and clutter from the floor will ease anxiety.
- Senior dogs suffering from arthritis will appreciate extra blankets, and ramps in the home.
- Regular tooth brushing will reduce plaque and prevent smelly breath.
The key to your senior dog living a longer, fuller life is being able to detect problems early, regular monitoring and checkups will improve your senior dogs quality of life and give you peace of mind!