One of the hardest articles for me to write is always one to do with the subject of a dog’s life coming towards its natural end.
We love them so much and it really is the cruelest trick played upon us that we don’t have them in our lives for anywhere near long enough. 15 years is something that most of us dog owners can only dream about because in all honesty, especially if you rescue dogs as I have done, you get a great deal less time with them.
The time we spend with our faithful 4 legged chums always seems to go by in a flash and it’s important to remember that time goes a lot quicker for them too.
In terms of physicality, everything is accelerated for our dogs.
Therefore as good dog owners, we need to be able to spot the signs and understand how we can make their passage into old age as comfortable as we possibly can.
What is the best way to take care of an old dog?
Table Of Contents
- What is the best way to take care of an old dog?
- Canine Eyesight Degeneration
- Why is my dog peeing in the house all of a sudden?
- What are the signs of dementia in dogs?
- Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Dog Dementia)
- Exercising Regimes For Older Dogs
- How often do senior dogs need to go out?
- Dog Food & Your Older Dog
- What do older dogs need?
- How to make an old dog happy
Many experts fall into the belief that any dog that passes its 7th birthday is generally considered as an older dog. As owners, we can dispute this yet they do have a valid point.
We would argue that our 7-year-old dog is in middle age but as stated earlier, everything is much faster with our pooches.
Once your dog becomes older it is time to take some preventative steps in order for them to remain healthy, happy, and active.
Canine Eyesight Degeneration
One of the first things we can expect is a general reduction in our dog’s eyesight.
This is common as indeed it is with us humans. Your dog’s vision is going to start going downhill. Now there are some diseases like cataracts and conjunctivitis that can be treated by your veterinarian. But just regardless, even if they don’t have a serious condition like that, your dog’s eyes are gonna get bad just naturally as they get older.
So be prepared for your dog to be bumping into things.
Be careful with stairs, all right, that’s your dog give a lot of stairs, you want to watch your dog at the top that doesn’t accidentally fall down because he can’t see so be prepared for your dog’s vision to get worse.
Why is my dog peeing in the house all of a sudden?
Urinary accidents in the home are another sign that your dog is getting on as well.
This is not a case of your dog being naughty or lazy, it’s simply a case of bladder control simply not being as good as it once was.
Again, as we get older we can find ourselves wanting to go to the bathroom more and dogs are no different in this measure. More frequently needing to go can of course be a sign of other conditions like diabetes, kidney disease, etc…
Again, another very common issue for senior dogs. Now sometimes the root of that cause can be a kidney infection or a urinary tract infection.
When your dog’s going to the bathroom in the house, and they have not done that for a long time, then it is time for you to take a trip to the vet.
There are actually some medications that can help with this. So don’t treat it as a behavioral issue alone. If your dog starts peeing in the house, and you have a senior dog, go to the vet first and take it from there.
What are the signs of dementia in dogs?
As your dog gets older their behavior and memory can change as well.
Canine Cognitive Dysfunction (Dog Dementia)
Dog dementia is very real and you might notice your dog doesn’t listen to you as much along with the commands you say as well.
He doesn’t respond to the words if you would.
The offer to go for a walk and your dog gets super, super excited. There’s going to be a day where when you ask “wanna go for a walk?” and your dog acts like he doesn’t even hear what you said.
This can be frustrating for us as owners but if you mentally prepare yourself for this possibility then you can learn to understand the condition more. Dementia in humans is incredibly sad and testing and our loveable fur babies get the same kind of condition and symptoms.
It’s not personal to you and your dog isn’t being difficult. It’s not how they are made.
The brain and processing of information are simply not working as well as they used to.
That part in your dog’s brain that had that association of “walking with me” as something good is going to start going awry and confusions, orientation, memory loss, and irritability are all very common behavioral changes as the dog gets older.
You may well see your otherwise placid dog developing some more aggressive characteristics too as they get older. Canine dementia is horrible and one thing it can bring is irritability that can manifest into aggression. It’s just as they’re old, and they’re irritable.
So if you have kids especially and you have an older dog, be very careful because every dog has a snapping point and every dog will only tolerate so much. Make sure your family know this and act accordingly around your dog.
And older dogs in particular will start to tolerate a whole lot less. Sadly, if this becomes too much for you and your dog’s behavior gets to a possible stage where people could get hurt, you need to make tough decisions and this may well involve getting help from your vet or rehoming them in a rescue shelter where they may be able to live out their days in a quieter environment.
It’s really horrible to write that as a dog lover, but we have to always remember that dogs are animals and can seriously hurt us or worse. Always be thinking about what is in the best interests of your dog.
Exercising Regimes For Older Dogs
How often do senior dogs need to go out?
It’s important that you keep up your dog’s exercise, but you don’t want to overdo it.
If possible take your dog for a short walk daily.
This helps the dog’s blood circulation and provides some new sights and smells to stimulate them and it gives you quality time to spend with your pet. He may be older but still curious.
As dogs get older, their energy levels going to go down, they’re not going to be able to do the same amount of physical exercise as they used to.
When my dogs have gotten on in years, I know that we can only walk out half the distance that we used to go when they were two or three years old.
The heart of your dog is a wonderful thing. Full of love for you, so take it a bit easier with the exercise as they get older as it becomes more fragile.
And if you’re like me, and you have a big or large dog,( Greyhound) or a heavy dog, be careful about excessive jumping.
Their joints, just like ours are not as elastic as they once were and although we want them to still exercise, too much jumping around isn’t going to do them any favors in the long run.
Hip and joint issues are something to concern us with and we want our dogs to be comfortable. My current dog, Wilson, suffers from cramps sometimes in his back legs as a result of running too much or walking too hard. He is only 7 now, so this is something that I am increasingly aware of.
We don’t want to push them past their leg’s capabilities. Your vet may well advise of supplements that can help with bone deterioration and anything that can make your dog less stiff and more comfortable as they get on in years is fine by me.
Dog Food & Your Older Dog
What do older dogs need?
As in humans, keep your dogs weight within the proper or optimum range. An overweight dog has far more health problems such as joint problems, arthritis, diabetes, and liver or kidney malfunctions.
Cut down on the number of treats given to your pet.
It is hard to resist the soulful eyes of your dog but always remember that it is for their own good.
You do not want to damage your dog by thinking you are being kind to them.
Feed your pet once a day or smaller amounts twice a day but remove the food if there is any left. If you have children, explain to them why they should not sneak food to the family pet.
You may well need to look at what kind of food they are eating too. Hard kibble or dry food is fine when they are younger, but as they get older it can become more difficult for them to eat.
Consider making the food wetter for them or indeed changing to a more suitable brand such as this as they get older.
Older dogs that are less active sometimes benefit from a more suitable senior food that has still all the goodness they need but focuses less on the high-energy content that a younger working dog would need.
As with dogs of any age, make sure there is always fresh, cool water available.
Some older dogs have problems getting to the water bowl so either take the water to them or place bowls of water in several different places so they do not have to go far for a drink.
When you have an older dog things do and will change and it does get a little bit harder for you as an owner.
How to make an old dog happy
In many ways, as your dog gets older it may well revert back to the sort of behaviors you once saw when they were a puppy. They sleep more, pee more, and generally behave differently than they did when they were in their prime.
It’s all part and parcel of having these wonderful creatures in our lives and I hope that this article has helped you much more than upset you.
It’s really hard to go through but you must also know that this is what happens and the better prepared you are to deal with it then the better it is for all involved.
I love my dog more each day and I am sure that resonates with many of you reading this….and it should do as well.
Dogs are a wonderful gift that we get in our lives and I know that I feel better as a person knowing that I have had them around me. They teach us a lot about life and for that I am thankful.
Keep these tips in mind though, and hopefully, it’ll help with your senior dog and give you both the best possible time together.