Caring for Older Dogs
Dog's cognitive processes can slow down as they grow older, and this can manifest in both physical and behavioural changes. Behaviours which may seem our of character for your dog as they age may be the result of cognitive decline. Such changes might include:
Less desire to interact and enjoy activities
Abnormally long sleep patterns, particularly throughout the day
Toileting accidents in the home
Depression and avoidance behavior
Sudden appearance of anxiety issues such as separation anxiety and aggression
Confusion within a usual environment
Irritability and less tolerance for human touch
Additionally, the following list is a great start to making your senior dog comfortable, safe and maintaining their health.
Regular vet trips. Yearly visits if your dog appears healthy are vital, as many illnesses can be hidden. Prevention is much cheaper than cure!
Ask for a body condition evaluation at every vet visit. Assessing your dog's body condition and determining their weight status as under, over or healthy is very important, and you should ask to be shown how you can assess this yourself at home.
High quality diet. See our blog on "How to Read the Label" of your dog's food here.
Keep your dog at their ideal body weight. Overweight dogs have a higher incidence of diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, skin disease, even cancer. Choose an appropriate diet for your dog that meets all nutrient needs while still allowing for weight loss.
Take care of your dog’s mouth. Keep their teeth clean with brushing, dental treats, toys and chews.
Exercise your senior dog. Tailoring their exercise to their size, breed, age and ability, keeping your dog active can help keep them lean and maintain healthy joints and muscles.
Make your home comfortable for them. Soft bedding or specialised beds can make arthritic dogs much more comfortable, ramps or avoidance of stairs, carpets instead of hard, slippery flooring can all make your home a safer and more comfortable place for your older dog.
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