Older dogs, like older people, will have some differences in the kind of care they require. However, you might wonder when a dog is actually considered a senior dog. This primarily depends on the breed of dog. Giant breed dogs age faster, and are generally considered senior dogs by the time they’re six years old. Little Chihuahuas or Pomeranians, meanwhile, might not be considered senior dogs until they’re 10 or 11 years old, and large breed dogs fall somewhere in between them.
Older dogs might develop arthritis or other conditions that can cause them to slow down. They probably won’t be able to play as long, or go for very long walks. You may notice them sleeping more frequently, or having a harder time getting up from naps or going up stairs. Dental disease can also be a problem for older dogs if they don’t have sufficient dental care, as can other types of health conditions.
With all this in mind, here are a few things you and your veterinarian in Egg Harbor Township, NJ can do to help keep your older dog in good health:
- Schedule regular vet appointments: Older dogs need to be examined more frequently by their vets—at least once a year. Even if the dog seems to be healthy, by the time it reaches old age there are diseases that could be lurking, so these checkups provide an opportunity to catch those diseases early.
- Keep the dog at an ideal weight: Overweight dogs are much more likely to suffer from such issues as heart disease, diabetes, cancer or skin disease. Therefore, make sure your dog has an appropriate diet, not just in terms of the amount of food it eats, but also the type of food you’re feeding it. You must make sure all of its nutrient needs are met. Opt for higher-quality dog foods.
- Specialize the dog’s diet: If your dog has specific types of health conditions you need to consider, then you may need to specialize that dog’s diet. A diet lower in sodium, for example, is often considered helpful for dogs that have heart disease, while diets that keep calcium and phosphorous levels under control can be helpful for dogs with kidney disease.
- Give the dog some exercise: Your dog may not be able to exercise for as long or as hard as it used to, but it is still important to get your dog up and moving around a bit to ensure it maintains healthy muscles and joints and to keep it lean. Long walks may not be possible, but a short, brisk walk around the block or neighborhood can go a long way, and will also keep your dog happy and stimulated.
- Give the dog lots of toys: Just because the dog can’t play for as long as it used to doesn’t mean it won’t get bored. Provide it with plenty of toys that will keep it occupied, including food puzzles that provide a lot of entertainment and mental challenges.
For more tips for caring for senior dogs, visit Newkirk Family Veterinarians to speak with an experienced veterinarian in Egg Harbor Township, NJ.