Caring for Your Senior Dog: Tips and Tricks
When dogs start getting a bit older, they get a lot more difficult to care for. If you’ve ever had a senior dog you probably know what we’re talking about. Of course, they’ll always be your little puppy, but senior dogs realistically require a bit more attention than younger dogs.
You need to take extra care in what you feed your older dog, as well as how you manage their health problems. Just because your dog has gotten older, doesn’t mean that you can ease up on their diet, activity, and other health-related areas. Focusing on feeding your older dog a good diet is important (e.g. using a food such as Nutrisource Dog Food for senior pets). In fact, now is the time to put even more effort into their health, because just like with humans, canine immune systems get a little weaker as they age (which means it makes them a lot more susceptible to viruses and diseases).
Most people know that older dogs require more care than their younger counterparts, but how exactly do you determine what an “old” dog is? What’s the age limit? Like most things in life, it really depends on a lot of different factors (e.g. your dog’s age, medical history, breed, current health, etc.). For example, large breed dogs that have inherent health problems might be considered “old” around ages five or six, but a smaller dog that isn’t inherently problematic (from a health standpoint) might not be considered senior until they’re over 10.
What to Expect as Your Dog Gets Older
One of the most common health problems that develops among older dogs is that of degenerative joint issues. Arthritis is one of the primary things that can cause a lot of pain and discomfort in senior dogs. Luckily, there are numerous methods to manage pain related to arthritis and degenerative joint issues.
Another one of the very major health issues among older dogs is dental-related problems. As dogs age, their teeth, jaws, and mouth, in general, become a lot weaker than normal. Dental disease is very prevalent in older dogs, and many vets actually report dental disease (or at least the early stages of it) in dogs as young as three or four years old. Dental disease can be incredibly painful for your pup, and can also lead to massive weight loss (due to the act of chewing and swallowing becoming very painful).
While dental disease is very common among older dogs, it’s certainly not the only common disease in this population. Heart disease and liver disease are two of the other most common diseases found in senior dogs. The level of care that’s required for these types of health problems depends a lot on your dog’s medical history, as well as how advanced the disease actually is.
For example, advanced heart disease is really just treated via pain management (and it’s the same thing with advanced liver disease). That’s why prevention methods for these diseases should be employed from an early age.
Not only should you focus on prevention, but you also need to focus on providing your dog with a very high quality of life. Feeding your little furball high-quality food sourced from all-natural ingredients really shouldn’t be downplayed – it’s important for the future health of your dog.
Prevention and Management Strategies for Older Dogs
Without a doubt, one of the most important things that you can do for the health of your dog is to take them to the vet regularly. That means more than once per year, by the way. If you’re not taking your dog in for regular check-ups, there’s a strong chance that any number of diseases could be developing right under your nose, and you wouldn’t realize it until it’s too late for your pup.
Another thing that you should focus on doing is feeding your dog the highest quality food that you can afford. In the past, it was common for owners to feed their dogs whatever they could find for the lowest prices. However, with what we now know about diet and its relation to health, there’s no excuse for feeding your dog a low-quality food.
If your dog suffers from certain diseases, you should also consider putting them on a specialized diet. The dog food that we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, for example, is made for dogs that are considered “seniors,” but there are other foods made for urinary issues, liver disease, etc.