Puppies may be cute and full of energy, but older dogs possess a gentility, spirit, and wisdom that is uniquely their own. To make your old dog’s life easier, fuller, and healthier, here is a guide to senior animal care.
When a Dog Is Considered a Senior
A dog's breed determines when they have reached senior status. Because big dogs typically don't live as long as smaller ones, larger breeds like Great Danes can be seniors at age 6. In comparison, a smaller breed won't be a senior until around age 10. Most dogs, however, fall somewhere in the middle, with the median senior age being around 7 or 8.
Common Health Issues
Senior dogs are more prone to health issues like heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. They’re also more susceptible to joint and bone problems, trouble getting around, and a general sense of weakness and lethargy. Senior dogs can become senile as well, getting lost and confused around the house, sleeping more, and mixing up day and nighttime.
Animal Care Tips for Senior Dogs
To provide the highest levels of animal care for an older dog, be mindful of their changing needs. While a younger dog should see a veterinarian once a year for a checkup, an older one should have at least two annual wellness exams. Stay on top of all vaccinations and administer parasite control medications as directed by your vet.
Feed an older dog food designed for seniors as this is often easier on their digestive systems. Keep their mind active and engaged with toys and food puzzles.
Maintain regular walks and playtime, bearing in mind that you may have to adjust the intensity of physical exercise to better accommodate your aging dog’s body. You may need to modify the house as well to make it more senior-friendly by blocking off stairs to avoid falls, installing ramps, and investing in a softer and more easily accessible dog bed.
The professionals at Waipahu Waikele Pet Hospital are here for you and your senior dog. As the largest locally owned pet hospital in Hawaii since 1972, they provide veterinary services and after-hours emergency animal care to pets of all ages in the Waipahu area. Call (808) 671-7387 to schedule an appointment, or visit them online for an overview of their services.