Your dog is a part of the family and will be for the rest of his life. Just like us, as we age, our four-legged friends become more fragile. It is therefore necessary to take some precautions to offer them a better life comfort and to allow them to stay at our side as long as possible. We tell you everything!
A few simple measures can help your dog age well: an adapted diet, regular veterinary follow-up and daily care.
At what age does a dog become senior?
Not all dogs become old at the same age. The longevity of your dog depends a lot on his breed and size. Therefore, not all dogs age the same way. Small dogs are considered old from the age of 7 years or more. Large dogs, on the other hand, have a shorter life expectancy and are therefore considered senior from the age of 5 years. Indeed, in large dogs the joints age faster and pathologies such as osteoarthritis can appear earlier.
Living with your dog, you will quickly notice the signs of his aging:
-He is less dynamic;
-His joints become stiff, he has more difficulty getting up after a long nap;
-His skin thickens and gray hairs appear;
-He doesn't react as quickly to your orders, his hearing is diminished;
-He salivates more than before;
-He salivates more than before; Growths like fat balls appear on his body;
-His eyes are covered with a white veil (sign of cataract);
-He eats less or gains weight for no apparent reason.
All of these signs indicate that your hairball is entering his senior years. He will therefore need you to make his life easier and make his daily life sweeter!
What food to choose for a senior dog?
When your puppy became an adult dog, you probably changed his diet to match his new nutritional needs.
The same is true when your furry friend becomes senior. He moves less, so his energy needs will change. To avoid weight gain that would be harmful to his health, change his diet to kibble adapted to older dogs, which is less fatty and less energetic.
But be careful, in order not to disturb your dog's intestinal flora, you must make this change gradually, by making what is called a dietary transition. This is all the more important as digestion becomes more difficult with age.
To avoid overweight and obesity, you should also pay attention to the amount of treats you give your faithful companion.
Finally, to keep your dog in shape, you can also use food supplements. To preserve his joints, prefer a supplement based on glucosamine, green mussel and chondroitin, ingredients known for their effects on joint pain.
Taking care of your senior dog
Your senior doggie will need more care than before. Being less active, his claws may not be worn down enough, so they need to be monitored and shortened if necessary. Too long claws can make it difficult for your four-legged friend to walk.
Weekly brushing is also recommended to care for your pet's coat and skin. This is a good time to check for parasites (ticks, fleas), and to watch for fat balls or tumors on his body. If you notice that his skin is dry, you can add a food supplement rich in essential fatty acids (omega 3) to his bowl.
Visits to the vet should also be more frequent. At the very least, your dog should have a check-up every year, or even twice a year, in order to see if everything is going well and to detect possible health problems as soon as possible. Vaccination, deworming and antiparasitic treatments are still essential, at any age!
In addition, dental problems related to tartar are more common in older dogs. Bad breath and/or difficulty chewing should lead you to consult a veterinarian.
Senior dog: his comfort is serious!
A senior dog may become deaf or have failing eyesight, so he may need you to be more attentive than usual. A senior dog with failing eyesight won't be disabled if his environment doesn't change. So make sure your dog keeps up his routine. For example, don't move the basket unless it's in a hard-to-reach area.
This is also a good time to give him a more comfortable bed, one that's flush to the ground and doesn't have an edge so he can settle in easily. When it comes to walks, you'll probably have to slow down a bit. But don't stop walking your dog just because he's getting older or his joints are stiffer. An older dog should still be physically active, just adapt it to his age and condition!
Finally, older dogs can suffer from kidney failure and become incontinent. Don't scold him if a little oversight happens! And if it becomes embarrassing for you, there are diapers for dogs.
By following these tips, you'll give your furry friend a better quality of life and keep him in shape longer.
Do you have any other tips for senior dogs? Share them with us in comments!