Caring for Senior Dogs

Caring for Senior Dogs

Caring for Senior Dogs

Courtesy of Better Pets & Gardens

Over many years our dogs become an integral part of our lives. They share the sad times and are almost always part of our happiest memories. They have a way of weaving themselves into the fabric of our day to day routines in a way that feels as comfortable for us as it is for them. But, they go through the same life stages as we do culminating in their senior years where they need just that little bit more love and affection.

It’s often difficult to gauge the true age of a dog, especially with the considerable difference between breeds. The old classic of ‘one human year equals seven dog years’ is an easy way to calculate but it is not really the most accurate. In dogs, small breeds live the longest while larger breeds have a relatively short lifespan. For example, a Great Dane is considered senior at 6 whereas a Toy Poodle wouldn’t be considered old until in their teens. In both cases their diet, exercise and medical history have a major influence in how pets age and the number of years that they live.

Diet & Exercise

Obesity is one of the most common problems in senior dogs simply because they begin to sleep more and receive less exercise although they are still given the same amount of food. In short, these pets are receiving more food than their activity level is able to burn off and this leads to obesity and all the associated health risks that come with it, potentially shortening their life span.

Gentle, low intensity exercise is important for dogs so that they burn off excess calories and maintain mobility in joints. Dogs enjoy a daily stroll to the park or just down the road and might even enjoy a play at the beach where water will help provide some low impact resistance as they walk.  The best way to control obesity in older dogs is to reassess the food that they are provided. Changing to one that is still filling but lower in calories and high in fibre will ensure that they are satisfied whilst eating in a manner to lose or perhaps maintain an ideal weight.