It is thought that old age starts affecting larger dogs at the the age of seven and affecting smaller dogs at around ten years old. However genetics, weight and living conditions can also have an effect on a dog’s aging process. One thing is true: dogs change with age. Even if they receive the same amount of love and attention as before some of their daily habits will not stay the same. Older dogs can develop rheumatism and lose their senses which can confuse their understanding of daily life and alter their usual behaviour. If your dog plays less than usual, becomes less active or loses it’s appetite, it is not useful to shout as there is nothing your dog can do about it! Here are some tips that are good to keep up your sleeve to make life easier for your older dog so they can manage the uncomfortable changes that come with old age.
Especially with older dogs, it is important to organise regular appointments with a vet. An older dog’s immune system is weaker which makes it more susceptible to illnesses. For dogs and humans alike, it is important to monitor joints and muscle weight to keep in better health in old age.
1) Don’t be afraid to wrap up your dog
Due to a weaker immune system, older dogs will be more sensitive to the cold. While out for a walk cover your dog with a coat to keep it warm. Both small and larger dogs will be grateful for the warmth! However not all dogs will accept wearing a coat. Don’t force a dog or be too aggressive with it if it has never been used wearing one before.
2) New bedding
Often due to rheumatism problems, older dogs can become less motivated to move or get up in the morning. This lack of motivation can also happen when playing games, grooming or when getting cuddles. Make sure to think about your dogs bedding as it is very important to be comfortable. The bed should be positioned on the floor, easily accessible and have a soft mattress. If you have several floors in your house you should place the mattress on the ground floor. Arthritic problems can become more painful in colder conditions so make sure your dogs bedding is positioned near to a radiator or a heat source.
3) Help out an older dog… but not too much!
Walks with your older dog are very important however they shouldn’t be too long or too hilly. After you have walked your dog, you could give it a massage to ease any pains and make it feel more comfortable.
Physical activities should not be overlooked and should be a regular part of it’s daily life. Muscles support the joints so it is important to stimulate the two to keep them in shape. For dogs with arthritis, swimming is also a great activity.
4) Senses that are not as sharp as they used to be
Older dogs can sometimes seem confused in places they have known for a long time due to a loss of hearing or a loss of sight. They sometimes no longer hear you when you enter the house and will start when they see you. Older dogs starting to lose their senses become clumsy, awkward and can start bashing into things. Keep your dog in an environment where it feels comfortable and try not to change it too much. This will help orientate your dog. With more points of reference, your dog will be more at ease and more like itself! When walking at night, take a head torch to help your dog follow you.
Good to know: If one sense deteriorates others are often affected too. If your dog becomes deaf as a door post think it may also be suffering from visual impairments.
5) Manage it’s anxiety
Older dogs often display signs of anxiety. They become more apprehensive and cautious in their surroundings, can destroy objects, develop nervous ticks, lose their appetite or start to stick to you like glue! These signs are similar to signs displayed by a dog suffering from a trauma, an illness or from a horrible experience. If this happens, get in touch with your vet. Note down in detail what situations spark these moments of anxiety so that your vet can find the best solution to the problem. In any case make sure your don’t scold your dog for their behaviour. Just like us, dogs can struggle with old age and as a result it is not helpful to be negative or angry with them. Instead be more understanding…old age will come upon us all at some point!