A dog is considered to be a senior when they reach the age of seven to 10 years old. Smaller breeds tend to become seniors much later than larger breeds. For example, Great Danes are considered to be seniors by the time they are approximately 5 to 6 years of age,
whereas a Chihuahua would only be considered middle age by that time. However, aspects such as the environment, nutrition as well as genetics have a significant role to play in how fast a dog will age.
Some Changes That Come With Age
With age, there are many different changes that can take place in your dog such as:
Helping Your Dog Manage Their Ageing Process
While most of these changes can be very gradual, aging is something that cannot be reversed. However, it is possible to slow this process by following a good health management plan. Some things that can prove to be beneficial include:
How to Improve Balance and Muscle Tone in Senior Dogs
When a dog ages it becomes less active. They begin to lose their ability to balance themselves well. This typically occurs due to muscle loss which in turn leads to further inactivity. When a dog is inactive it causes the body to slow down, age faster, making them more prone to injury. There are certain therapies as well as anti-aging activities that can help your dog remain more active in their senior years such as:
Common Conditions that Senior Dogs Suffer From
As dog’s age there is deterioration in the joint function and arthritis becomes a very common problem. It is important to control your dog’s weight and have an exercise plan that will help alleviate the symptoms. Maintain consistency in daily exercise because sporadic, strenuous activity can stress and strain your dog’s joints.
It’s far better to exercise him multiple times during the day, but for shorter spans of time. Do not take your dog out on days when he/she is lame or stiff. It’s crucial that you provide your dog very good bedding. Orthopedic bedding is also available for senior dogs in many pet stores. Ramps are very useful over steps and to help your dog get into the car comfortably.
Treatments such as hydrotherapy, physiotherapy, and massage will surely help.
2. Dental Disease
This is another common condition in aging dogs. This makes it important that dogs be taken to the vet for regular checkups. Canine toothbrushes, treats and chew toys will also help maintain dental health in senior dogs.
Is more commonly seen in elderly female dogs but can also been seen in male dogs. Incontinence can be caused by infection, neurological issues, spinal problems, hormonal imbalance or senility as well. Older dogs tend to forget all their toilet training and are likely to wet the area they are lying in. In most cases, a certain amount of medication would have to be given on a daily basis to treat incontinence.
4. CDS (Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome)
Many dogs experience Alzheimer’s or dementia symptoms. This condition is referred to as CDS and the common signs of it include:
The progression of CDS can be snail-paced. Keeping your dog active and mentally stimulated is one of the best ways to slow down the progress of this condition. In some cases, antioxidants can help the condition.
While these are quite common in older dogs, it’s important to make sure that your dog actually has cataracts. It’s likely that he is suffering from a condition called lenticular sclerosis, which tends to be more common in senior dogs. This condition causes the eye tissue to become rigid over a period of time and the eyes develop a grayish-blue tint. Lenticular sclerosis doesn’t compromise the dog’s eyesight seriously and no treatment is necessary.
If the dog has a cataract, it can result in cloudiness or opacity in the eyes and the condition can impact their vision eventually. Most owners don’t notice the cataract in their dog’s eyes until it has covered almost 60 percent of the eye. Cataracts are often accompanied by illnesses such as hypothyroidism and diabetes. It is possible to remove cataracts via surgery.
The Benefits of Herbal Treatments in Senior Dogs
Older dogs can benefit significantly from herbal treatments that may be used externally as well as internally. Herbs are packed with minerals and vitamins and provide good support to the natural healing mechanisms in your dog’s body. There are a number of different herbs that can maintain your pet’s overall well-being and keep them healthier in their old age. Herbs can prove to be very effective when used in conjunction with the right amount of exercise, a balanced and nutritious diet, and sufficient sunlight.
Balanced Nutrition Matters
Since older dogs have low activity levels their metabolism is slower. This means, their body requires fewer calories. However, it is important to ensure that your senior dog gets the right amount of easy-to-digest, high-quality protein content in her food. Typically a balanced diet for your senior dog would include:
Low-fat, high-quality, concentrated protein.
Carbohydrates that are easier to digest- these will provide her energy.
Various minerals to support arthritic or stiff joints.
In addition to the protein content in the diet, vitamins can help effectively fight infections that are brought on due to a decline in the immune system.
While it’s a good idea to feed your dog at least a couple of times a day, you may find that they prefer to eat smaller portions, multiple times a day. This is a very normal eating pattern in senior dogs, as their system is able to digest smaller quantities of food much better than larger portions.
K9 SWiM Hydrotherapy and Wellness Centre for all dogs young and old
Even if your dog is aging, you will find that they will crave some level of socialisation and will enjoy an outing. At our centre, we offer herbal, photonic treatments and massages that help with mobility and overall wellbeing. K9 SWiM has a state-of-the-art hydrotherapy centre, where we offer gentle hydrotherapy sessions for senior dogs.
Contact us today to find out how we can help your golden oldie and give them a good quality of life in their senior years.
Watch out for our Senior Happy Hour Classes coming up in the warmer months!
Call Us 1300 787 064
Hi I'm Sharon Osmond the owner and founder of K9 Swim. The Splash Blog is where I share tips and information on dog's health and safety and some fun facts and stories.