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A Guide to Taking Care of Senior Dogs
Saturday October 1st 2016
Preparing for your dog’s senior years is a significant aspect of being a pet parent. One of the most important ways to do this, is to always make sure you are aware of any small changes in their behaviour, as these minor details could now be indicators of a more serious problem.
The rate in which a dog ages will vary depending on their breed. In general, smaller dogs age at a slower rate, and are considered senior once they reach about 10 – 11 years old, compared to just 8 – 10 for the larger dog breeds. No matter what the breed, once they hit their senior years, there are a few things which you should always bear in mind in order to keep them happy and healthy. To help you out, here at helpucover, we have listed what we believe to be some of the most important factors below.
Once your dog starts to get older, it’s important that you adjust your pace according to what they are able to keep up with. Senior dogs will often begin to suffer from arthritis and general stiffening of the joints, therefore your usual walking route might now be too much for them. If you notice that your dog is beginning to struggle with their usual exercise routine, be conscious to take a few more breaks throughout the walk, or shorten the route to a more appropriate distance.
It’s important not to stop exercising your dog altogether once they begin to age, as it is still a hugely important factor to their health, and keeping them suitably exercised will help keep them physically fitter and mentally younger.
As your dog ages, their metabolism will tend to slow down and they will be expending less energy than they did in their younger years, so it’s important that you adjust their diet accordingly. Try to choose a diet of high quality which matches your dog’s individual lifestyle. Often your vet can help recommend appropriate choices which will include all of the nutrients your dog needs, whilst still allowing for any weight goals or requirements.
A few extra pounds on your dog’s weight can become more of a problem once they reach their senior years. It is a good idea to ask your vet for a body condition evaluation during your visits so that they can determine whether your elderly dog is overweight. Excess weight can put a greater strain on their internal organs and joints, and even increase their chances of developing heart disease and cancer. If your dog is overweight, you should act immediately to change their diet and exercise regime in order to shift these extra pounds as soon as possible.
Although dental care is extremely important throughout your dog’s life, during their later years, dental hygiene becomes crucial in avoiding infected gums which can then cause secondary infections in their liver, heart or kidney. Make sure you examine your dog’s teeth at regular intervals to check for any inflammation or a build-up of plaque. You should also make sure that you are brushing your dog’s teeth frequently, in order to prevent the onset of any gum disease in the first place.
Regular Visits to the Vet
Regular trips to the vet become even more important once your dog begins to get older. These visits will help keep your mind at ease, and can offer the opportunity to ask questions and discuss any concerns in which you may have about your dog’s health and lifestyle with a professional. It is also a good opportunity to make sure they are up to date with any necessary vaccinations.
This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offers pet insurance.