Aqueos Products to Support Senior Dogs
As dogs age, their needs and care requirements change. The saying “old age is not a disease!” reminds us that some signs we may see in our elderly dogs are not ‘normal’ for old age, and may actually be caused by an underlying medical condition. Here are our top tips for supporting your senior dog.
What age is a dog considered old?
This varies a little bit between breeds. As a general rule of thumb, most dogs would be considered senior from around eight years of age. However, giant breeds age fastest, so may be considered senior from 6 years, whereas very small breeds may not be considered senior until around 10-11 years.
How can I tell if my elderly dog is healthy?
While it’s true that your dog may slow down with age, there are certain (sometimes subtle) signs to watch for, that may actually indicate an underlying medical issue. Keep an eye out for:
If you notice any of these, take your dog to a vet as soon as possible. Often, the earlier treatment is started for an illness, the better the outcome.
Care of senior dogs:
So, how can you support your dog in their senior years? Let’s look at some aspects of senior dog care.
Don’t forget that your dog still needs to keep up to date with their flea and worm prevention and vaccinations as they age. At the vaccination visit, your pet will also receive a vet check-up, which can pick up certain diseases before you start noticing any signs. Six monthly vet checks are ideal for senior dogs.
You may find that your dog’s behaviour changes as they age. For example, they may become more clingy, develop separation anxiety, or become more nervous. While some degree of behavioural change is natural with age, other behavioural changes may actually be due to pain, senility, or hearing and vision loss. If you have any concerns about your pet’s behaviour, it’s best to have them checked by a vet.
Elderly dogs may not be able to last so long between toilet breaks, meaning you may find your pet starts having accidents indoors. If this happens, it’s really important to be sure the accidents aren’t actually due to a health issue, such as arthritis, incontinence or diabetes. Ask your vet for advice if you aren’t sure. Remember, you should never punish your elderly pet for having accidents, after all, they can’t help it! Instead, clean it up using a pet-safe disinfectant and don’t make a fuss. Try offering your pet more frequent toilet breaks.
A dog’s nutritional needs change as they age, so it’s a good idea to transition them to a diet formulated for senior dogs. For example, their metabolism often slows down, making them more prone to weight gain. Any diet change should be made gradually, over a couple of weeks, to help prevent any diarrhoea or sickness. Start by adding a tiny amount on day one, then slowly increase the amount of new food, while decreasing the amount of their old food.
Elderly dogs need exercise too! Gentle, regular exercise can help to keep the joints moving and help to prevent obesity. It’s also good for brain stimulation. Even if they can’t travel far, being able to have a sniff about and change of scenery will help their mental well-being. Just be guided by your pup as to how long, or far, they can walk. Swimming or hydrotherapy is a great exercise for arthritic pets.
Have a look around your home to see what modifications you can do, to make your elderly dog’s life easier. For example, you could consider:
There are several other things you can do to support your dog’s emotional well-being as they age. Even simple adjustments like leaving a radio on when you go out, or leaving a dim light on at night-time, can help.
Arthritic dogs may groom themselves less, so you may find that you need to help out with their grooming a bit more! You could use a trusted groomer, or you can use gentle pet-safe shampoos and/or wipes to help with moulting and keep them clean and matt free. Pet-safe wipes can be helpful for incontinent dogs, to help prevent urine scalding.
If your dog is exercising less as they age, you may find their claws need trimming more regularly. You can arrange this at a groomer, or with your vet nurse. You may even feel confident enough to clip their nails at home, in which case it’s a good idea to have a product designed to stop bleeding nails to hand, just in case.
Remember, you know your pet best! It’s important not to assume any changes you notice are down to old age. If you have any concerns about your elderly dog’s health, take them to your vet for a check-up.