How to recognise signs of old age in dogs
There are twice as many senior dogs than there are puppies in the UK and this is sure to slowly rise as dogs live longer. It is essential that all dog owners can recognise the signs that their dog is reaching old age and know how to respond.
As dogs get older their smell and taste senses lessen which can cause them to become very fussy about what they eat. If you notice your dog being picky about what food they eat, then consider feeding them a warm diet which will make the smells stronger and you dog may prefer it. Dogs also can get a decreased appetite as their stomach shrinks, this is entirely normal. If you think their appetite is drastically changing then consider feeding them less food but more often so they are still getting the right amount per day. Consider changing to senior food as this will be more easily digestible for them and will be pleasing to their senses. As dogs are more susceptible to dehydration as they get older, ensure there is always fresh water around for them and as they get less mobile perhaps have an extra bowl around the house so it is easily accessible.
The condition of your dog’s teeth is an important factor to your dogs health just like in humans. Dental disease is much more common in older dogs as they are at risk of years of build up and decay if their teeth are not cared for properly from an early age. There are several treats and chews that are made to help their teeth as the chewing motion cleans their teeth and removes plaque. However the best way to keep your dogs teeth clean is by brushing them yourself. Most pet stores will stock dog toothpaste and brushes and by doing this you are eradicating the potential dangers to your pet’s mouths. If your dog refuses to use a toothbrush then just letting them lick a pea sized amount of toothpaste off their paws will help.
Just like humans, dogs get stiffness in their bodies as they get older and whilst this cannot be prevented, there are things to do to aid your dog. Some stiffness is just from old age of the joints however it is always best to see a vet to see if it is anything else. If you see your dog getting stiff joints then look to help them by decreasing their walks, buying aids around the house such a dog stairs or dog ramps for cars to help with dog travel. You can also purchase supplements to ensure they are getting to correct nutrients.
Some dogs get behavioural issues as they get older which unfortunately is down to old age. They can get syndromes that are similar to Alzheimer’s or Dementia which your vet will be able to provide you with information on. They may get symptoms of disorientation or house soiling so before you reprimand your pet, consider taking them for a check up at the vets.
Whilst these issues are all a part of getting old for your dog, they will all be new to you and you can seek dog health advice from your vet at any time as soon as possible as early detections often have the best outcomes. Your dog might need more reassurance and love than usual as it can be a unnerving time for them as well.