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Loving a Senior Dog


The aging process in our dogs can often have the same effects as they do on ourselves. Joints can ache, mobility can be limited, and vision and hearing can decrease. They may slow down or have less energy, but they still have lots of personality and lots of love to give.

At what age does a dog become a senior doggie citizen? Most dogs are considered seniors between the ages of 7 and 10. Larger breeds generally have shorter live spans and are considered seniors closer to 7 years of age while smaller breeds generally have longer life spans and are considered seniors closer to 10.

Because our dogs are not always demonstrative about their pain and discomfort, it is very important for us to pay close attention to their behavior, their physical body, and their mental state, so we can provide the best care for our dogs in their sunset years.

Know the Signs of Aging. Here are a few signs that your dog is getting older.

· Slowing down

· Taking more time to sit or lay down, and get up into a standing position

· Less interested in physical activity

· Changes in sleeping patterns like sleeping or resting more

· Limping or tenderness in their limbs or joints

· Trouble with maintaining balance

· More irritable or agitated

· Weight loss or weight gain

· Increased drinking (a possible indication of kidney or liver issues, or diabetes

· More lumps and bumps

· Cloudy eyes or vision issues

As our dog ages, we can take simple steps to make their lives happier and healthier.

Here are 10 tips for you and your senior dog:

1) With age comes achy joints often from arthritis. Holistic therapies like massage and acupuncture can reduce pain as well as increase circulation and blood flow to joints and muscles. Massage can increase mobility and flexibility, warm the tissues and muscles, and relax and calm your dog.

2) Doggie beds with orthopedic foam or memory foam can help reduce the pressure on joints and make sleeping more comfortable especially for larger dogs.

3) Keeping your dog active is important to keep the joints and muscles moving, but don’t overdo it. Take slower more casual walks and allow them to take breaks when they need to. Find less impactful games to play with them that involve less running and chasing, and more finding and searching.

4) With decreased mobility and flexibility, your dog may have more trouble getting up on the bed or on to their favorite chair. Consider placing doggie ramp beside beds, chairs, and couches to make it easier and safer for them. I prefer a doggie ramp as it places less stress on joints than doggie stairs.

5) Senior-proof your home. Place skid-proof rugs on slippery floors to make it safer and easier for them to get around the house. If you have a two level home, have a bed and water bowl on both levels to give them easier access to a comfortable place to rest and a more convenient place to drink.

6) Adding supplements to their food like omega-3, glucosamine and chondroitin can help their joints as well as their skin and coat. Always consult with your veterinarian to see what supplements might be best for your dog.

7) Be observant. Keeping a watchful eye on your dog, they can alert you to changes in their behavior, posture and gait that might indicate pain or illness. Watch for limping, excessive licking in one spot, or having difficulty sitting or laying down. Monitor changes in your dog’s health, appearance, and behavior. Are they drinking more water? Have they slowed down their walking or take frequent rest stops during a walk? Has the texture of their coat changed? Are their changes in their stools? Are they more irritable?

8) Healthy teeth can mean better health for your dog, so brush your doggies teeth regularly with doggie toothpaste and talk to your veterinarian about supplements that may help your dog reduce plaque and bacteria.

9) Keep your doggie stimulated with walks outside and dog puzzles inside. Mental stimulation will keep their minds active and keep life interesting and fun. Use food puzzles, hide treats for them to find, and allow them to sniff and smell on walks.

10) Senior dogs may become more anxious or nervous and may have a harder

time handling stress. Massage therapy can be a great help in reducing anxiety

and promoting relaxation and calm. Calming treats may also help an older, more anxious dog.

Most of all, give your dog lots of love and affection. As your dog ages, they will appreciate the extra cuddles and attention.

Senior dogs are often the last to be adopted from a shelter, so if you’re considering adopting a dog, please consider a senior. They give us unconditional love, so give them all the tender loving care you can.

For more information on senior dogs, check out these articles:

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