Senior Dog Care
With advances in veterinary medicine and owners who are increasingly aware of subtle changes in their animals, pets are living longer than they ever have before. It also means that we are seeing more senior dogs; who have different needs than they had during their puppyhood. At Fairview Animal Hospital we are here to help keep your dog as comfortable as we can, for as long as possible, as they start to “slow down.” Age is not a disease, so we try to manage conditions that may occur as the pet ages.
When is a dog considered a senior pet?
On average, dogs are considered senior around seven years of age. There are some exceptions to this rule depending on the size of the dog. Larger breeds may be considered senior by the age of five or six whereas smaller breeds may not reach this stage until eight or nine. Individual dogs may also age faster than others based on genetics and their overall health.
How should I care for my senior dog? (example: schedule regular check-ups, exercise, special diet, etc.)
Following the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines, the veterinarians at Fairview Animal Hospital recommend wellness exams every six months for senior dogs. It includes early detection bloodwork and urine testing, helping us to diagnose illnesses as early as possible, and in turn to increase the treatment options available. These bi-annual exams also include an assessment of your senior pets’ weight and body condition.
Senior pets should have high-quality diets. Diets that might include supplements such as fatty acids and glucosamine to help maintain mobility.
As pets age, many develop arthritis and muscle loss. There are medications available to help with this painful process. Having raised dishes that are easy to will help these older dogs eat comfortably. The use of ramps, rugs, and extra bedding will also keep our senior pets happy.
Many senior dogs will have a decreased ability to make it outside to urinate and defecate. As a senior dog owner, you may have to increase the time spent on grooming your dog to prevent urine scalding. Older dogs will also start to lose their vision and their hearing. It may lead to increased anxiety and behavioural problems. There are anti-anxiety medications available for these cases. Owners will need to have the patience for these animals.
Senior dogs frequently develop kidney disease, dental disease, cognitive changes, even cancer. But with continued exercise, mental stimulation, regular checkups, and appropriate treatment from your veterinarian, these dogs can be happy and comfortable through their golden years.