By Nick Burton
We give our dogs so much of our time and attention, and they reward us with all the love they give in return. When our dogs get older, their needs start to change, and the care they need changes too. It isn’t easy watching your young and vibrant dog begin to slow down, but these changes don’t necessarily mean they have to suffer. When you understand the changes that lie ahead, you can help them stay comfortable and live a happy life.
Your dog can’t tell you how she’s feeling, but she is likely to show you signs through how she acts. The following are some of the most common physical changes older dogs go through and ways you can manage them when they arise.
Arthritis: One of the most common conditions older dogs develop is arthritis, and just like humans, arthritis in dogs causes pain that makes it harder for them to get around. If your dog starts limping, struggles to do things she used to, or seems to get tired more easily, these are all signs she may be suffering from arthritis.
You can help by getting accessories that make your dog more comfortable at home. If they have trouble getting in and out of the car or up and down from furniture, you may want to get pet steps to make these actions easier and less painful. There are lots of different options out there, so before you buy pet steps, check out reviews online to find the best choice for your dog’s size and situation. You can also give your pup a more supportive spot to sleep by getting an orthopedic dog bed. The extra cushion provides the support their joints need, and some orthopedic beds even have heat to reduce inflammation. Your local pet store may have a number of orthopedic beds for senior dogs.
Hearing and Vision Loss: The good news about hearing and vision loss is that these changes are usually gradual, giving you a chance to make the necessary adaptations to help them cope. For dogs who have hearing loss, the Spruce Pets recommends teaching hand signals for commands. If your dog loses eyesight, the best thing you can do is keep his environment consistent so he can get around your home by memory.
Special Dietary Needs: Senior dogs may have other health problems, such as high blood pressure or weight gain as a result of being less active. One way you can keep them as healthy as possible is to ensure they’re on a species appropriate diet.
Grooming Issues: Some dogs develop sensitive skin as they age, so this is something to watch out for. If your dog rests a lot, they’re also more likely to get matted fur. Staying on top of regular grooming can take care of these issues and keep them more comfortable.
“Bathroom” Habits: Unfortunately, as our pets begin to age, they may be prone to having “accidents” around the house, which can add unwanted stains and odors to our homes. And while cleaning up immediately after you spot the accident can help reduce the smell and lessen the impact of the stain, you might need a little help in that department. Thankfully, you can bring in carpet cleaners to address the problems without going broke in the process.
Sometimes dog owners are surprised when they start to see their older dog acting differently. But let’s face it — old age isn’t easy for pets or humans, and the changes in physical health can lead to emotional changes for your dog.
Anxiety: If your pup who used to be calm and happy seems to get more anxious, you aren’t alone. The blog Old Dog Haven explains that senior dogs have a harder time handling stressful situations like new people or noises. You can help reduce anxiety by keeping his routine consistent and easing him into new situations.
Boredom: Even when a dog is older, they still need mental stimulation. We love these tips for teaching new tricks to older or disabled dogs. Helping them learn something new makes life more interesting and keeps your older pup feeling younger and happier.
Older dogs may have some years under their collar, but they still have life left in them. By the time your dog reaches old age, she has given you countless hours of love and affection. We owe it to our senior pets to give them the extra attention they need to feel their best.
Nick Burton with his wife, is the co-creator of Our Best Doggo. After the passing of their 15-year-old lab/terrier mix dog, Willie, they decided to create this website to share all types of dog information and help people that are mourning the loss of a dog.