While we wish our dogs could be by our sides for our whole lives, we know that dogs age at a faster rate than humans. Most dogs are considered “senior” once they reach about seven or eight years old, while larger breeds tend to be considered senior around six years old. Caring for an elderly dog means keeping an eye out for shifts in their behavior and appearance. If you have a senior dog, you’ve probably already noticed some changes. Because your dog has reached a new life stage, it may be time to make some changes to how you care for them.
Be Aware of Changes that Come with Aging, and What You Can Do to Help
A little less pep in their step. More gray in their coat. Changes like these are particularly noticeable, but others may be more difficult to detect. Senior dogs have different needs than younger ones. It’s important to recognize these unique differences and know how to respond to keep your dog feeling their best.
1. Senior Dog Weight Gain (or Weight Loss)
A healthy weight helps support joint health and mobility. If they’ve become a little less active or put on a few pounds, you’ll likely need to make some changes to your older dog’s diet and exercise routine. If they’ve lost weight without a change in diet or activity, it could mean something more serious and it may be time to visit the vet. Keep an eye on them and talk to your vet if your dog loses more than 10% of their body weight in a year.
2. Frequent Accidents
Aging dogs may start having accidents inside the house. While that can be frustrating, remember that your dog isn’t doing this on purpose; they just can’t help it. Try letting them out for bathroom breaks a bit more often and talk to your vet to see if there is a potential health issue and whether medications designed for this may be right for your dog. If your dog is straining to pee, that could be a sign of a urinary or kidney infection, so be sure to consult your vet.
3. Stinky Dog Breath
This one can be particularly unpleasant, but it’s not their fault. It’s important to continue an oral health routine for your senior dog, like regularly brushing their teeth and taking them to the vet for an annual dental cleaning.
You can also incorporate dental treats into your dog’s daily routine. GREENIES™ Aging Care Dental Dog Treats are specially designed with a softer texture to gently clean your senior dog’s teeth down to the gumline, which supports their dental health while freshening up their breath.
4. Cloudy Eyes or Vision Loss
Eye cloudiness is pretty common in older dogs, but it could be a sign of cataracts (which are thankfully treatable!). If your dog seems to be knocking into the couch or chair legs, they could be suffering from vision loss. Talk to your vet if you think your dog’s vision is affected and avoid repositioning your furniture and confusing them further.
5. Starting to Slow Down
Senior dogs can start to see changes in their activity levels — they tend to be less active, so it’s a good time to adjust your exercise routine. Try slowing down your walks or taking your dog for a swim! These low-impact activities are easier on their joints. If stairs or jumping are becoming more of a hurdle, consider getting a ramp for your dog to make going up or down easier. If you notice your dog is reluctant to move — up or down the stairs or even getting up from the couch or floor — they could be having mobility issues. It’s a good idea to talk to your vet about what you can do to help.
To help maintain your dog’s healthy joints, try adding a supplement to their routine. GREENIES™ Hip and Joint Supplements are designed to support your dog’s healthy joints, flexibility and mobility. They’re made with a combination of active ingredients like glucosamine and chondroitin to help your dog continue to be active, so they can keep moving and playing into their later years.
6. Older Dog Behavior Changes
Like humans, dogs can develop a kind of dementia in their senior years. This can cause noticeable changes in their day-to-day behavior, including being afraid of people (even familiar ones), forgetting once-known commands, noticeable anxiety and disorientation. If your dog starts showing any of these behaviors, it’s best to talk to your vet to see what you can do to help.
You know your dog best, and the best way to care for your senior dog is to be extra accommodating and talk to your vet about any changes you notice, no matter how small. With your help, their golden years can be just as special as their younger ones.