Last Updated on May 25, 2023 by Pets Feed
A pet at a venerable age is always sad. We understand that the canine age is not so long, and soon we will inevitably part with a four-legged friend. Unfortunately, we cannot influence the laws of nature, but making the advanced age of our dog comfortable, safe and comfortable is a completely feasible task for every loving owner.
There is more than enough information on how to take care of a small puppy, but there is not so much information on how to take care of an elderly dog. In this article we will try to fill in the gaps and tell you what to pay attention to all owners of elderly dogs.
Unfortunately, the years have not spared our faithful friends and are aging much faster than we would like.
When is a dog considered senior?
The age at which a dog can be considered old depends on the average lifespan, and therefore on the size of the animal. Based on the statistics, it is assumed that:
- In giant breeds (over 45 kg), the senior age begins early – already at 5-6 years old;
- For large (23-45 kg) and medium (9-22 kg) breeds, maturity ends at 7-8 years and 9-10 years;
- Small and miniature dogs (up to 9 kg) age later – after 10-12 years.
The figures indicated are a conditional age line that separates the maturity and the age of the seniors. The aging process does not occur instantly, but the owner can already notice such external signs as:
- Change in the type of wool – dry / excessive fat content, gray hair, bald patches;
- Deterioration of muscle tone – sagging of the abdomen and back;
- A gradual decrease in appetite, food rigor;
- Slowness, decreased physical activity;
- Character changes – aggressiveness turns into grumpiness, good nature – into lethargy / laziness.
Health impacts of older dogs
Behavior and character
Older dogs usually behave more calmly and with great dignity, become conservative in their habits, so they can hardly stand a change in the environment. They can become naughty, irritable, grumpy. Especially often, the character deteriorates in dogs suffering from serious illnesses, experiencing constant discomfort and pain.
Some older dogs become shy, fearful and insecure. Others, on the contrary, injure young dogs, trying to maintain a leading position.
Compared to their owners, dogs become more intrusive, jealous, resentful, can withdraw into themselves and withdraw from communication. Spending most of the day half asleep, at night the “old men” change in the apartment because of insomnia.
Dogs are extremely difficult to endure emotional and physical overload, stress is simply destructive for them. There are cases when a rather vigorous dog has become decrepit and helpless after experiencing stress (loss of the owner, car accident, etc.).
Senior dogs and diseases
In elderly dogs, it is often impossible to draw a line between age-related changes and pathology. Due to a decrease in the function of the immune system, the symptoms of diseases seem “pale” and the owners do not always pay attention to them in a timely manner. But even harmless symptoms in an old dog can indicate the development of serious diseases.
Some dogs become pronounced meteopaths, their health is determined by weather conditions, which can also mislead the owners (malaise is attributed to the weather). At an advanced age, animals acquire a whole “bouquet” of chronic diseases. This must be taken into account when selecting and prescribing drug therapy, so as not to disturb the delicate balance of the aging body.
Sensitivity to drugs often changes. The dosage of the drug, even the most harmless, should be selected taking into account age, since intoxication can occur due to a decrease in liver and kidney function.
Many older dogs, especially large ones, suffer from diseases of the musculoskeletal system. Usually, the owners notice that the dog finds it difficult to get up and down, turns around awkwardly, barely goes up and down the stairs, easily loses balance.
Exercise is necessary for an elderly dog to maintain muscle tone and joint flexibility, but the attitude towards walking should be reasonable. In good weather, you can linger outside. However, one should not be led by dogs that have retained their temperament and playfulness until old age. It’s one thing to please the dog, it’s quite another not to calculate his strength and bring him to exhaustion. It must be remembered that the ligaments become less elastic with age and the bones become more fragile. Even minor injuries heal very poorly, so you need to carefully monitor the dog while walking. After playing or crossing paths with other dogs, an elderly dog may complain about his paws or his spine. In addition, overwork while walking is fraught with weakness, attacks of cardiac arrhythmia and shortness of breath.
In cold weather, it is better to walk large dogs with a harness and a leash. If your dog’s paws are spread apart and he starts to fall, you can support him and soften the blow.
After eight years, the dog’s visual acuity decreases. This may be due to various diseases: glaucoma, atrophy of the retina and optic nerve, but most often – age-related changes in the lens. A barely noticeable bluish “haze” in the dog’s eyes speaks of the incipient cataract. To suspend the process, eye drops are used: katachrom – oftan, taufon 1-2 drops 2-3 times a day for long courses. With the developed cataract, surgery is indicated. If this is not possible, the blind dog walks only on a leash, along a familiar route. At home, so that the dog is not injured, do not leave dangerous objects in its path.
A decrease in visual acuity can occur without visible changes. Then this is indicated by such signs as the dog’s unwillingness to walk in the dark, caution, overtaking with difficulty or with a “stock” of minor obstacles,
Blindness in only one eye can lead to rather unexpected behavioral reactions – fear or aggression towards familiar dogs that suddenly appear on the side of the sore eye. Or the dog suddenly does not “fit” into the opening of a door or gate.
Rules of care for an elderly dog
The duration and quality of life of a dog depends on many circumstances, but the main thing is the proper care and concern of the owner. It is in relation to an elderly animal that we can judge a person’s attachment to his dog.
Elderly dogs are already a category of animals vulnerable to health, as are puppies, pregnant bitches and lactating bitches. A characteristic feature of elderly dogs is the need for easily digestible food, which:
- Can be easy to chew (older dogs often have problems with teeth and gums);
- Would allow weight control (older dogs are often obese, which is an additional risk factor for them);
- Suitable for sensitive digestion (even healthy elderly dogs may have problems with the normal functioning of the digestive tract) ;
- Would provide additional nutrition for the joints and ligaments (arthritis is the bane of old dogs).
You should choose foods from trusted brands, among which there are foods developed for the needs of adult and senior animals. Is a brand whose notoriety allows us to call it one of the leaders in the animal feed market.
Dogs are like people. The more a living organism is exposed to stress factors, the more likely it is to live longer.
Our beloved dogs are no exception.
Dogs experience stress when they are hungry, when they have to endure heat, extreme cold and severe pain. It is very difficult for dogs to endure the separation from their owners. The older your dog is, the more serious these circumstances can have consequences for him.
Try to minimize any physical and psycho-emotional stress for your pet. If possible, protect him from the intrusive attention of strangers, postpone moving to another city, go to his dacha during repairs in his apartment, do not let younger and more energetic dogs harass him – in a word, create the conditions for his comfortable life. With all his dedication, he certainly deserves this attitude from you.
No humidity, sudden temperature changes and drafts
Do not leave your dog lying in drafts if you keep it in the yard – leave it in the house during the cold season, create conditions in which the dog can hide from the heat and make sure that your pet is not in a damp room. For a long time.
With age, immunity in animals, as in humans, weakens, and each additional unfavorable factor will negatively affect the health of the dog.
Colds, coughs, neuralgia, joint pain – these are just some of the consequences of prolonged exposure to moisture or drafts.
No high jump
Musculoskeletal problems are common in almost all elderly dogs. Lameness, slow movements, pain caused by arthritis and other degenerative changes in the joints are ways to poison the life of any elderly dog.
To help your elderly dog get through this period, you need to be very careful about stress – remember when, as a puppy, you didn’t let your dog run up the stairs? Now, in the same way, you need to protect the elderly dog from sudden movements, jumps from great heights and other potentially dangerous situations.
Too much stress on the joints and ligaments can lead to the aggravation of existing problems.
Owners of large breeds of dogs (Rottweiler, German shepherd, Labrador, Bullmastiff, St. Bernard) should be especially careful – due to the large weight, the load on the joints remains significant.
This is one of the reasons why a dog should not be obese.
But not only joint problems are fraught with extra pounds in dogs. This is also an additional burden on the heart and other internal organs of the dog, which are forced to work intensively.
Therefore, stop giving your dog unhealthy treats and feeding him at the table. If you want to pamper your pet with something, choose special treats and watch the calorie content of his diet. If necessary, and after consulting a veterinarian, change his menu. Dry food from well-known brands, including Hills, has in its range of foods for weight control. Perhaps it makes sense to transfer your pet to such food.
Preventive examination of an elderly dog
First of all, let’s talk about preventive examinations: older dogs are advised to perform them much more often than young ones. It is advisable to do these three to four times a year. A routine examination of an elderly dog is no different from a routine examination of a young dog. Most dogs, especially large breeds, suffer from diseases of the musculoskeletal system in old age, which should be given special attention. Take your pet to an orthopedist twice a year.
If you notice any unusual changes in your aging dog’s behavior, contact your veterinarian immediately.
As with young people, an aging dog needs routine vaccinations and deworming. But in the case of the elderly dog, even deworming should be carried out under the supervision of a specialist. The veterinarian may cancel the vaccination or the deworming, depending on the results of the tests and the diagnostic measures taken.
The idea that dogs after 9 years are not vaccinated is a myth.
Teeth often deteriorate in older dogs, so oral examinations and tooth brushing should be carried out regularly. Your dentist can help you. Even young dogs often suffer from diseases such as tartar growth and periodontal disease. This can lead to an overgrowth of pathogenic microflora, a bad smell, inflammation and tooth loss.
With age, the dog’s coat changes, as well as the fermentation of the skin. The coat becomes dull and brittle, excretion increases. An unpleasant odor and dermatoses of various types may appear. Examine your dog’s skin daily for redness and bumps – older dogs are prone to new growths. Regularly you need to comb and bathe the dog according to the recommendations of this breed.