Getting older is an unavoidable part of life, and as we age, many of us start to notice changes in our behavior, in our health, and in our ability to carry out certain activities. This often means that we need to adapt in order to continue functioning normally and living life to the full. Just like humans, our pets need special care as they get older. Here’s what you need to know about how pet care changes as your dog becomes a senior animal.
As animals get older, their nutritional needs change. They need fewer calories since they will be burning less energy and consuming the same number of calories as before could cause them to gain weight. Your dog may also benefit from the addition of specific supplements to their diet, to help manage health conditions that they have. A good example of this is glucosamine, which is often recommended for dogs with osteoarthritis.
Our sight and hearing can deteriorate as we get older, and the same can apply to our canine pals. Unsurprisingly, this can make navigating even very familiar territory like your home more difficult than before, and you may find that your dog is regularly bumping into things or becoming confused. It can help to make sure that you keep the layout of your home the same, as this will make it easier for your older dog to move around.
Meanwhile, many older dogs go on to become less mobile, perhaps experiencing degeneration of the joints like which occurs in arthritis, and this can make it harder and more painful for your pet to move around. Installing soft carpets over hardwood flooring can reduce the risk of slips and falls, while ramps can help your dog avoid steps and other potentially painful movements.
Older animals spend longer resting and this means that they will need somewhere to relax and sleep. If your dog is suffering from an age-related condition like degenerative disc disease or osteoarthritis, they may find taking certain positions uncomfortable. Fortunately, a comfortable bed can offer them significant relief from joint pain and help them get better quality rest.
Older dogs still enjoy getting out for walks and fresh air with their owner, but as they age, their energy levels will reduce, and their mobility may not be as good as it was before. Nevertheless, it’s important that they still get regular exercise to help keep their heart healthy and their weight under control. Switch to short, regular walks on fairly easy going ground, and watch them carefully to make sure that they aren’t becoming too tired or are in pain. Make sure that you take water with you so that your furry pal doesn’t become dehydrated.
Your veterinarian understands the unique changes in care that your dog will require as they get older and is best placed to advise you on the best way that you can support them. They can also keep a close eye on the health and wellbeing of your dog, which will enable them to spot any developing health problems early on, when they are likely to be able to be treated more easily, and before they can have serious consequences.
To schedule an appointment to talk to us about your senior dog, call Circle of Life Veterinary Hospital in Tampa, Florida at 813-850-0600.