Learn how to care for a senior dog and keep them healthy for the rest of the amazing years that you get to spend with them. This post was sponsored by Wellness, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
This post was written in 2016. My dog has since passed away but we were able to keep her happy and healthy until she was 14 years old. We used these tips all throughout her senior years.
Around eight years ago a dog and her three puppies showed up at my parents’ house in the country. The puppies were older and the mom was looking skinny and ill. They were clearly dumped and showed signs of having been abused. They were beautiful dogs, we believed the mom was mostly Great Pyrenees (recently had her DNA tested and she is 3/4 Great Pyrenees and 1/4 Anatolian Shepherd). I fell in love with her and ended up adopting her.
She needed a lot of vet care as she was pretty sick. She got spayed and her double dewclaws removed — Great Pyrenees and a few other breeds have them but they no longer need them and they can get caught on things and hurt them. She also needed a lot of medicine because she had Ehrlichia, an infection spread by ticks.
I spent a long time nursing her back to health and eight years later she is around 11 years old and doing great! She has gotten over a lot of her fears from having been abused and other than an ear infection and a possible Ehrlichia relapse a few years ago she has been very healthy. Keeping her healthy in her senior years is very important to me.
When is a dog considered a senior?
Determining when a dog is considered a senior can vary based on several factors. Generally, dogs are considered seniors between the ages of 7 and 10, but this can differ depending on their size and breed.
Smaller breeds tend to have longer lifespans and may enter their senior years closer to 10 years old, while larger breeds may be considered seniors around 7 years old.
However, it’s important to note that individual factors play a significant role as well. The dog’s overall health, genetics, and lifestyle can influence the timing. Some dogs may show signs of aging earlier, while others may remain spry and active well into their senior years.
Regular veterinary check-ups and close monitoring of your dog’s behavior and well-being are essential for understanding its specific aging process and providing appropriate care.
How to Care for a Senior Dog
Senior dogs need a little bit different care than younger dogs. With their activity level decreasing they are more likely to become overweight, they often start to have some joint discomfort, and have an increased risk of many health issues.
There are a lot of things you can do to help keep your senior dog healthy and happy. Of course always check with your vet before changing their diet, adding in supplements, etc… because each dog is different.
1. Watch their weight.
It’s always important to keep your dog at a healthy weight but senior dogs are more likely to become overweight and it’s even harder on their joints. Making sure to measure out the correct amount of food and watching the treats can help. Also, make sure they get daily exercise. They may not be able to go on long runs anymore but a nice walk will help them burn some calories and move those joints. When you do give treats be sure they are high-quality treats, just like people’s treats there are ones that are just full of bad ingredients and are junk food for dogs.
2. Feed them good quality food.
It’s always important to give your dog good quality food but as they age this becomes even more important. I prefer grain-free food that is made in the USA. Wellness Complete Health Grain Free is a new food that is a really good option. I really like that with Wellness pet food when I read the ingredients I understand them. It’s a brand I trust for my dog and she loves it as well.
3. Keep Your Dog Learning
Just like people learning new things can help keep your dog’s mind active and healthy. Keep teaching them new tricks and look for toys that engage your dog’s mind. Not only can you teach old dogs new tricks, but it’s also good for them.
4. Make things easy.
If your dog is starting to get a bit stiff make sure they have a comfortable bed, if they sleep with you consider a step, and elevated dog food dishes can help sore backs. Also, be sure the vet checks them out to make sure it’s just old age and not another issue causing the stiffness.
5. Keep them comfortable.
As dogs age, their bodies don’t regulate temperature as well so they can get cold or hot more easily. A warm bed and possibly a sweater can help in the cold months and cool places to lay and possibly trim your dog in the summer can help. If spending a lot of time outside make sure there is always lots of shade and water in the summer and a warm place during the winter. Bring them in when it’s too hot or cold.
I like to stick some treats in the refrigerator during the summer and give one to my dog when we come in from walks. Or make some fun frozen dog treats for your dog to enjoy.
6. Keep them groomed.
Dogs can become more sensitive as they age and also their hearing and eyesight can start to deteriorate. Keeping their ears clean can help prevent added issues. If your dog seems to have dry eyes, something that older dogs can have happen, talk to your vet about drops.
Also, choose gentle and natural shampoos and keep your dog’s nails trimmed. You may notice you need to trim them more often as they are less active and wear them down less on their own.
7. Watch for changes.
If you notice changes in your dog’s behavior or health talk to your vet. They may be normal parts of aging but it’s always best to be sure. Your vet may be able to also offer specialized advice for your dog.
Taking good care of your senior dog will help them spend their remaining years healthy and happy. Our dogs give us so much love it’s important to give it back to them.