Looking After Your Senior Dog
Pups are a lot like people; young’uns are full of beans, energy and excitement, and as they get older, they slowly begin to slow down and need a different kind of care.
So, you’ve noticed your dog getting older. Perhaps they are less energetic, have a couple of grey hairs and can’t hear so well. Maybe their attitude has even changed a little bit. That’s okay. Ageing is totally normal, and can be expected of all living things.
However to ensure your older pooch is happy and healthy there are some changes that you’ll need to accommodate in both of your lifestyles. Keep reading for our top tips on how to look after an elderly dog.
It’s important to regularly visit your vet and get your pup checked up on - even if nothing that’s outwardly obvious seems wrong.
See, a lot of doggie illnesses hide rather annoyingly under the skin. It’s not as though dogs can tell us when they’re starting to feel a bit off, and sometimes the physical symptoms aren’t very apparent to us. We’d recommend fairly frequent check-ups, so that if there is something going a bit wrong it can be identified early on. Then you’ll be able to treat whatever it is quickly, and more importantly, you’ll save your dog from unknowingly suffering.
Dental care is always important for pooches, but particularly with old age - if you’re currently caring for a senior dog you’ll know what we mean, as the smell can be pretty gross.
However, there are bigger concerns than the often untoward scent of a dog’s mouth, as older dogs dental ailments are much more likely to arise, such as dental disease and even tooth loss. Dental disease is painful for dogs, and may also cause your dog to avoid his dinner - shock horror - which may lead to weight loss and subsequent malnutrition.
It’s best avoided with, again, check ups with the vet, as well as dental toys and treats, or even brushing your pooch’s teeth.
If you’re looking after an older dog, you’ll need to start tailoring their exercise needs towards their levels of energy. Keeping your dog active in old age is super important; senior dogs are more likely to gain weight, and are also doubly impacted by the negative health effects of obesity. (Read our guide on how to help your pet lose weight if you’re a bit concerned about this; we’ve got your back!)
That said, older dogs often need a lot less exercise. Just as a puppy needs more walkies than an adult, this will change yet again when they’ve reached their golden years.
Continue daily walks, but keep an eye on how much your dog can tolerate before becoming too tired and adjust as necessary. You don’t want to wear out your old friend, and too much weight loss is just as problematic as weight gain. This often occurs when pets get older, so be smart about it!
Similarly, a diet adjustment is necessary when caring for older dogs. Generally less food is needed due to a decline in exercise, meaning that your canine companion will be burning fewer calories and a lesser amount of energy.
Often vets recommend that older dogs are switched to a specifically senior diet, where the food has been tailored to meet changing nutritional needs. We’re super pleased to say that we can offer our own special senior food.
An older dog might need a bit more pampering than most, to look (and feel) their very best. Sticking to a tailored diet and exercise regime for your pooch is really important for ensuring that their coats stay shiny and smooth, but there are other things you can do too.
Grooming them a little bit more will be a good way to spend some quality time with your pup, as well as providing them with that little bit extra TLC and affection. Not to mention it’ll allow for a chance to check for any out of the ordinary lumps, grazes or bruising, and keep an extra eye on their physical health.
For older dogs that do develop any joint problems or skin conditions, there are ways you can keep them more comfy in their ripe old age, for example moving their bed to a warm and spacious area, or even treating them to some new bedding altogether. There are also special medicines you can obtain from your vet to keep them feeling better.
Lots of love
Your dog may not be a tiny puppy anymore, but they’re definitely still your baby. And just because they’re a bit older, it doesn’t mean they don’t still need love, hugs and affection.
While all pup personalities vary, most older dogs still love a bit of play time. Keep them occupied with games, toys, walkies and learning new tricks (yeah, yeah, we know, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” - but you can when they’re motivated by delicious Barking Heads treats!) and continue to spend a lot of time with them.
Do you have a senior dog at home? If they love chowing down on our Golden Years recipe, be sure to send us a great picture, like this pawesome shot of Olly: