One day, you’ll start noticing your dog is moving slower, napping more often, and getting a bit silver in the face. Before you know it, your frisbee catching, river swimming, fence jumping companion has turned into a senior dog. A new chapter in his life is starting and his needs will be changing. I have put together a couple of ideas for you and your senior dog to read through.
We’re slowing down
Your senior dog will need to slow down his activities, he might still be very keen on taking long walks. But might regret it as his energy level start to decrease. Make sure that his walks are a comfortable distance for him, that will not result in aching muscles.
Your senior dog might start to become less energetic. At this stage his diet will have to be adjusted. Food being sold as senior dog food, is not always the best choice. Do some research and have a chat with your vet to make sure the diet your dog is on is efficient.
Senior dogs often start to lose some of their senses. Their eyesight and hearing are often the ones that tend to go first. This might cause your dog to become a bit more wary of his surroundings. He will get startled quicker than usual. Arthritis, aches, and pains might contribute to some behavior changes. Aging dogs might become grumpy towards other dogs close by, especially if he struggles to get up.
Lumps and bumps
With aging, lumps bumps and growths might start appearing on your dog. Many of them are just fat lumps and moles and do not need to be removed unless it bothers the dog. However, if those lumps and bumps start changing shape or size, it would be best to get them checked out by your dog’s vet.
The aches and pains
Senior dogs tend to be a bit more stiff and sore. You can help them with joint supplements and anti-inflammatories dispensed by your vet. (Do not ever, self medicate your dog for pain). In colder weather, putting a jersey on your dog that covers his hindquarters will help, as well as a cozy bed with a firm cushion or mattress in a sunny spot. Short walks will help your dog loosen up his joints. Gentle body massages, if your dog enjoys being touched will also help.
Aging by no means mean that they should not take part in doggie activities anymore, it just means that the activities would probably change a bit, but could still be just as enjoyable for them. Nose work is an excellent activity for all dogs, and it can be adjusted for dogs who cannot move around much. Swimming is also a great activity for older dogs (if they like water), the water takes a lot of pressure off their joints and it will help them maintain muscle mass. Just don’t overdo it.
Enjoy this new phase of your dog’s life and treasure the time with him.