We’ve all heard the adage that 1 dog year is equivalent to 7 human years, or maybe more for bigger dogs. In general, veterinarians say dogs age quicker than humans and obviously, live shorter lives. So when do our pups enter their “senior years,” and how can we help them live their fullest, longest lives? On the blog this week, we have 5 helpful tips for ensuring your senior fur ball enjoys their glory years as safely and comfortably as possible.
- In general, as your pup slows down and becomes a little less active, it’s good to pay closer attention to changes in behavior including loss of appetite, changes in water intake, and changes in gate or general physical sensitivity.
- In collaboration with your vet, create a concrete schedule for more frequent vet appointments to do blood work and check on the overall health and well-being of your senior fur ball. These appointments might increase at different ages, but in general, smaller dogs like chihuahuas can be considered “senior” around age 8 or 9 while larger breeds like great danes are considered “aging” when they’re 5 or 6.
- Take steps to control their weight. Additional body weight can be especially challenging for older dogs who are susceptible to conditions like arthritis. Monitor their food intake and cut back if necessary to ensure they maintain a healthy, fit weight. There are special senior dog foods available that offer specialized vitamins and nutrients too; consult your vet to see if they’re appropriate for your fur ball.
- Make sure your senior fur ball is comfortable and can easily access their food bowls, outside potty areas, and comfortable beds. Much like humans, dogs need to feel safe and comfortable as they age to limit stress associated with climbing stairs, laying on the hard ground, playing, etc.
- Be flexible and patient. Fido might not be able to walk quite as far as she ages, and she might not be up for long hikes with the family. Because they can’t talk and tell you what they need, it’s essential that you be patient and pay attention to physical signals that they need to rest or relax. You can always exchange lots of snuggles for the long walks you took in previous years!