Tuesday, 07/07/2020

Introduction 

 A dog is always your best friend and a companion that loves your attention and in turn, showers his attention on you. However, as the dog ages, following the natural aging process, pet parents need to take extra care as the dogs’ activity level may decrease and geriatric dogs’ nutritional needs change.

To ensure your dog leads a healthy, happy, and comfortable life – you need to adopt some precautions. This article discusses various aspects of having healthy senior dogs with minimal health problems. Consider these facts to design a perfect routine and lifestyle for your older dogs to keep them healthy and active – and help them live longer.

When Are Dogs Considered Seniors?

Tentatively, pet owners consider the human years to calculate their dogs’ age. However, it cannot be that straightforward.

Usually, small dogs are aged as they turn 7 years, and larger dog breeds are deemed old or senior when they are 6. Notably, the highest recorded age of a dog is 29 years. 

The aging mainly depends on the dog’s age, size, weight, and other factors. So, depending upon your dog’s breed and its physical condition, you need to consider it as aged after around 6 to 7 years of its age.

What Are the Significant Health Considerations for Senior Dogs?

Notably, you can notice subtle changes in your dogs’ activity levels. Your senior pets can be less physically active than when they were young. Similarly, during their senior years, your dogs and cats are more prone to contracting health issues. They also have altered nutritional needs – more dependent on protein intake to live longer.

Like geriatric cats, senior dogs require daily exercise for weight loss. Younger dogs are naturally more active, but you need to spare time to exercise your dog as it ages. Your pet’s health relies on physical activity and a healthy lifestyle during these dog years.

Aged dogs are more prone to obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cataracts, kidney disease, heart disease, dental disease, and cancer. If you find sudden changes in your pet’s behavior, ensure no underlying condition is at the root of this behavioral change.

Schedule appointments for your dog with a veterinarian, pet behaviorist, and pet dentist to examine its physical condition and early detection of any health issues. Regular check-ups and dental clean-ups will help keep your dog problem-free and lead a long life.

What are the nutritional needs?

As pet parents, you always prefer providing a balanced, healthy diet to your pets. But as pets age, they have different nutritional requirements. A diet rich in protein and the least possible carbohydrates to prevent weight gain and other potential health problems is recommended by Veterinarians.

Your dogs and cats don’t need ‘quick energy’ as they age, but they need food as sustained fuel. A protein-rich diet can help them get that fuel to keep them healthy and still in proper shape. So, you should cut down carbs and increase protein in their daily diet to keep them healthy and active.

Ensure you include food that is easily digested and has anti-aging ingredients. Their daily activity and calorie needs are reduced. Therefore, avoid providing high-calorie food to your older furry pals. Read this blog to get more in-depth insights into changing nutritional requirements.

What Are the Vet-Recommended Regular Tests as Dogs get Older?

Along with a thorough physical examination, some diagnostic tests may be required. These tests are crucial for the early detection of health issues among your senior dogs. Schedule regular vet visits for preventive check-ups and laboratory tests.

Here are a few tests your vet usually recommends to diagnose, prevent, and treat various health issues among aging pets.

  • Complete Blood Count

This test is among crucial blood tests that allow vets to determine the count of red blood cells and white blood cells in your older pet. This blood test helps identify specific bleeding issues, the immunity system issues, certain types of cancer, anemia, etc.

  • Complete Urine Analysis

A veterinarian can test a urine sample to diagnose urinary tract infections, kidney disease, diabetes, and similar issues leading to kidney failure.

  • Serum Chemistry Profile

The blood test allows a veterinarian to check if your dog has issues with its liver, kidney, and endocrine diseases like diabetes and Cushing’s disease.

  • Fecal Exam

A veterinarian can test a fecal sample to check for internal parasites and bacterial infections.

  • Digestive Functional Tests

Liver, pancreas, and small intestine functioning tests help a veterinarian diagnose any issues with the digestive system of your aged dog.

  • Other Tests

A vet may recommend additional tests like X-Rays, ECG, EKG, radiography, thyroid tests, adrenal glands, and blood pressure measurement to diagnose heart disease, orthopedic issues, hormonal imbalance, etc. Proper Preventive Care helps your dog get early detection and treatment for possible health issues.

Maintaining Mobility 

If you notice physical signs of difficulty walking, running, climbing, or other physical activities, that indicates an increased risk of losing mobility. Any underlying issues must be detected early to prevent disease by consulting a vet in your area. Regular exercise is a must to retain mobility among older dogs and cats.

Behavioral Monitoring 

Besides proper dental care and testing to minimize suffering among your aged furry friends, monitoring their mental health is also crucial. Keep an eye on their behavioral changes – like excessive barking, excessive or destructing chewing, sudden changes in their dietary routine, and many other aspects. If you notice such symptoms, contact a pet behaviorist for an appointment and take your dog for a senior exam by the pro vet in your area.

Environmental and Lifestyle Considerations

As your dogs start aging, they prefer lowering their physical activity. Try to complement this lifestyle change by changing their bedding space, play area, dog pools, and dog bathrooms. Avoid stairs and need to walk a long distance to reach places. Make things easily accessible, preferably indoors for their safety and comfort.

As the dogs start to age, they may lose their vision or have a hearing impairment. Consult your veterinarian to learn more about care tips for such disabled dogs. Your patience and support will help your aging pets lead a comfortable life.

The following infographic helps you understand various senior dog wellness concerns briefly. Please go through this infographic and adopt these aspects to keep your aged dog healthy and happy.

Senior Pet Dog Wellness Infographic - GreatVet

To Summarize

The article covers various aspects of dog wellness as they grow older. We hope you gain a positive perspective on providing proper care to your senior dogs by going through the article. Choose an experienced veterinarian by leveraging our platform – GreatVet, to search for the best-rated and highly reputed vet clinics in your area. Keep consulting your vet regularly to help your dogs lead a happy, healthy, and long life.

Disclaimer: The content on the site is for educational purposes only, and it does not provide medical advice. The shared information must not be treated as a substitute for or alternative for medical practitioner advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Regarding any concerns about your pet’s health, seeking veterinary guidance is of utmost necessity. Each pet has specific health, fitness & nutrition needs. Do not disregard, avoid or delay pet health-related advice from veterinarians based on reading the information provided on this site.

Author

Rajashree Goswami

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