What Dog Owners Need To Know About Caring For Elderly Pets

Posted on: 2 February 2018

Your dog doesn't stay a puppy forever. When you dog is a part of your family, you can enjoy every stage of life. Puppyhood silliness gives way to adult loyalty and steadiness. But those adult years move into senior years, and as your dog ages, he will need more special care. Here is what you need to know about caring for your dog as he gets older. 

1. Exercise is still important.

Young adult dogs are more naturally active. They will run and play in the yard, scramble up and down the stairs when they hear someone come to the door, and they will still enjoy long walks at a modest trot instead of at a slow pace. As a dog ages, however, they will become more and more sedentary. Not only will they have reduced energy levels, but problems with muscle and joint pain can make it challenging for your dog to enjoy the activities he used to. 

However, exercise is still important. It helps with weight control and your dog will have fewer joint problems if he stays active. Modify your exercise routine to slower, shorter walks more frequently to accommodate your dog, and give plenty of water and time to rest after each activity. 

2. Your dog may need different food.

Puppies need food that is packed with calories and nutrients. Adult dogs need a balanced diet that helps their teeth to stay healthy, their coats to stay shiny, and their weight to stay healthy. Senior dogs need plenty of nutrients, but they do not need as many calories as they once did. Cutting back on portions might seem like a good idea, but then your dog might not have enough nutritional support. Your vet can recommend a good senior dog food that provides for a dog's nutritional needs without providing too many calories in a serving. 

3. Be aware of signs of declining health.

Your dog cannot speak to you about what is bothering them. Many health problems can begin to develop in your dog's old age, and you need to be on the watch for early signs in order to get vet treatment at a place like Animal House Veterinary Hospital and to increase your dog's comfort. For example, developing joint pain might first show itself when you dog doesn't jump up to sit on the couch next to you. You can also look for things like loss of dexterity, reduced movement, and a changing personality. When dogs lose their sight or their hearing, they will not act the same nor will the move as much.

For more information, contact your vet.