senior dog by lake

Living With an Older Dog

Seeing your family’s best friend grow old can be a tough experience for a family. But for however difficult it might be on you just to watch it happen, your aging dog is going through a particularly rough time herself. As your pup gets older, there is a good chance that each of the points below will become a concern. They are not likely to come at the same time, but there’s also not a specific order they’ll happen, either.

There’s No Set Time

No matter what breed your dog might be, there’s no guaranteeing exactly when she she will reach her golden years. Some dogs have a lifespan that doesn’t even reach ten years while others can end up living for a couple decades. Either way, you should be aware of your dog’s behavior and habits and, should you notice changes, you might want to start taking things a little easier on her.

Vet Visits More Important than Ever

While it’s fairly common for pet owners to take a dog in for regular veterinarian appointments, this practice only gets more important as she ages. Most dogs usually only need to visit the vet once a year, but it is recommended that your senior pup goes in every six months. This is because even minor injuries and illnesses will wear her down much faster than when she was a puppy or first reached adulthood. Catching and treating an illness as early as possible is the best way to ensure she makes it through alright. Likewise, during these visits, make sure to spend some time talking with the veterinarian about your dog’s diet in old age. Discuss any issues you have noticed with her eating habits as well since these could indicate other issues the vet might not have found on their own.

Be Aware of Your Dog’s Eyes

Like us, dogs tend to lose clarity with a lot of their senses as they get older – especially their vision. For most older dogs that have vision problems, you will notice one or both of their eyes start to look blue or gray. Because of this, you will want to keep your home’s layout the same so your dog is comfortable navigating your -and her- home. Moving furniture – or moving to a new home altogether- can leave your dog feeling lost or confused. This is only made worse as her vision deteriorates and she tries to move about the house more on memory than actually being able to see.

Manage Physical and Mental Activity

Though she may have once loved playing fetch when she was younger, there will come a time when running and romping around the park may be too much for your dog’s joints. Many families take this as an indication that their dog just wants to rest or not play, but that’s rarely ever the case. As those physical games get more difficult for your dog to participate in, replace them with new -yet not demanding- tricks and games that will keep her mentally engaged. You and your family might not be able to wrestle around with her anymore, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be left alone.

Keep Her Comfortable

High and low temperatures can leave an older dog suffering. If you live in a particularly cold area, ensure that she has a warm place to rest and that her bedding is soft and comfortable. If you live in a two-story home and your dog sleeps in your room (or in a kid’s room), you might want to think about giving her a space downstairs to sleep in. The heat can also be problematic for her, and you should limit her time in the sun. Furthermore, don’t ever leave her locked in a car while the sun is out. Even if the outside temperature feels mild to you, the car’s inside temperature will quickly heat up to levels your dog simply will not be able to tolerate. Along with her physical comfort, you may want to consider the level of volume around your home. As she will need more rest in her old age, keeping things a little quieter can help your dog get the sleep she needs and ensure she isn’t needlessly agitated.

Maintain Grooming

Routine grooming is a great way to help your dog’s wellbeing. Not only will you be able to notice any abnormalities on her skin or coat, but she’ll love the extra attention you give her during these sessions. Still, make sure to stay aware of how she is reacting to the grooming and keep her from feeling stress. That being said, you may also want to consider forgoing professional grooming and take care of it yourself as you will be able to control the situation and monitor her reactions.

Give Her Love

One of the most important takeaways you should get from this is that your dog still wants and needs your love and attention. As she gets older, make a note to pet her and talk to her daily. Engaging with her and letting her know she’s still a part of the family is as important to your dog as it is to any relative you know – maybe even more so in some families.