Senior Dog Care Basics
Senior dogs have different care requirements than those of a younger dog. This fact probably doesn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But how do you know when your dog is considered to be a senior?
It really depends on the individual dog. In general, giant breed dogs age faster than smaller breed dogs. A Great Dane is considered to be senior by roughly 5-6 years old whereas a Chihuahua would likely only be middle-aged then, and probably not considered a senior until 10-11 years. Large breed dogs fall somewhere in between. A Golden Retriever might be considered senior by 8-10 years of age. Genetics, nutrition, environment; all of these play a role in how fast your dog ages.
What are some of the things to expect as your dog ages? Your dog may develop arthritis or other degenerative diseases that cause him to slow down. He may not be able to walk as far or play as long. He may tire more easily.
Senior dogs also frequently suffer from obesity, kidney disease, liver disease, heart disease and other conditions.
What can you do to help your senior dog? Here are some tips:
Schedule regular visits with your veterinarian. Your pet needs to be examined at least yearly if it appears healthy, as many diseases are hidden and not apparent. Remember it is much cheaper to prevent disease than it is to treat it!
Feed your mature dog a high quality food. Your veterinarian can help you choose an appropriate food for your dog. Specialized foods that are lower in calories are sometimes necessary for obese dogs. Overweight dogs must be fed carefully to ensure that all nutrient needs are met while still allowing your dog to lose weight.
For dogs with mobility issues due to arthritis or other joint diseases, foods fortified with fatty acids such as DHA and EPA can be useful. Supplements such as glucosamine and chondroitin are also beneficial.