Once a dog reaches “Senior” status, which can depend on the breed, there are a few things that you can do to best take care of your aging pet.
Maintain A Healthy Weight -
Keeping your dog at a healthy weight is even more important as they age. It can be a cause for concern if an animal begins losing weight or eats less than normal. Being overweight can put unnecessary extra stress on joints, bones and internal organs and should also be avoided. As with humans, a dog’s metabolism can slow as they age, so you may need to adjust their food amounts
Quality Diet -
Speaking of food, make sure that you are feeding your dog the best food you can afford to. Remember, nutrition plays a large role in overall health. There are many brands to choose from and even more formulations, so you will probably need to do a little research to choose a food for your dog’s needs.
Clean Teeth -
Hopefully, you’ve been routinely caring for your dog’s teeth since they were a puppy. If not, it’s not too late to start. Keeping canine teeth clean is critical to their health. Infections and bacteria can enter the bloodstream through broken, damaged or decayed teeth. Once in the bloodstream, certain illnesses can be deadly. Develop a nightly brushing schedule and ask your veterinarian about more in-depth cleanings. Sometimes dogs may be too old and in too poor health to do deep cleanings, due to the anesthesia used, but it is worth it to ask.
Keep Them Active -
This means both body and mind. Regular walks are a great way to keep muscles strong and being out in the world with smells and the sights stimulates their brains. Even though they might still play like a puppy, still engage them to keep their mind sharp. Think trips to the dog park, squeaky toys, food puzzles, and fetch, etc.
Schedule Yearly Vet Visits -
Checking in at least once a year will help you and your veterinarian be aware of changes before they become problems. Your veterinarian may also suggest supplements or medications to reduce the effects of again in your pet. Watch for signs they should see a vet sooner. Lumps, limping, changes in mood, eating and sleeping habits are all red flags that require extra care.
Be Accommodating -
You may need to be more patient with an aging dog. They may not have a quick reaction time to commands or they may even be developing vision or hearing problems. Some owners teach hand signals for deaf or hard of hearing pets. Your dog may need special orthopedic bedding to relieve joint pressure or special bedding that can be washed frequently because of incontinence issues. Dog ramps are a great way to accommodate a pet that has difficulty going up and down stairs. Your pet simply wants same great care you've been giving them, but know that the type of care may be different now.