Senior dogs can take a bit more care then our younger dogs, but it is important to remember that age in and of itself is not a disease. Although our senior dogs are more prone to developing a disease in their later years, there are signs and special steps that you can take to enrich their lives. This way, they can live a longer, healthier and more active life by eating right and discovering any problems, while they are still manageable.
When does a dog become a senior?
We consider larger dogs seniors, roughly between 5-7 years of age and smaller breed dogs from 7-9 years of age. Since animals age faster than humans, they are considered to be a senior a lot earlier then what most of us would expect.
What are common senior dog health issues?
Senior dogs are prone to health concerns such as diabetes, kidney disease, heart disease and debilitating arthritis. Recognizing early signs of diseases can help to improve your senior dog’s quality of life. Typical signs to look for include:
- Excessive increase or decrease in eating, drinking or urinating
- Decrease in activity level including walking and playing
- Weight loss or gain
- Dull hair coat
- Depressed or lethargic
- Cognitive loss
- Foul odor from mouth
- Hesitant to climb stairs, jumping on and off objects or getting up from laying position
How to care for senior dog?
We recommend bringing your senior dog twice a year, as your dog ages, it’s important to keep on top of their health. Animals are so good at hiding their illness and or pain until sometimes, it’s too late. It’s also good for you to know that in 6 months your pet ages roughly 3½ years!
There are a few fundamental steps that you can take to ensure your senior dog’s optimal health, include things like diet, regular vaccinations, exercise, dental health and regular check-ups by your veterinarian.
Your veterinarian will do a complete physical exam, followed by diagnostic testing which may include blood work, urinalysis and checking the stool for any parasites. All of these in combination allows your veterinarian to get the bigger picture of what may be going on inside your dog’s body.
Most of the time you won’t be able to see clinical signs, so having a wellness exam is very important to detect the early stages of a disease. Catching diseases early such as diabetes, for instance, can greatly improve overall health and longevity of your dog.