Seniors make up approximately 30% of pet dogs across the country. Despite being an extremely lovable demographic, senior dogs are more prone to disease and quality of life concerns compared to their younger counterparts. And because of that, they require special proactive care.
What many pet parents don’t realize is that most dogs enter into the senior dog category long before they really “act” like a senior. Veterinary professionals classify dogs age seven and older (or five and older for large breeds) as senior canines. Changes in mobility, dental health, eyesight, and behavior are some things to look for as a dog reaches senior age.
Here are 4 ways to help make the most of your dog’s golden years!
1. Schedule Routine Vet Visits
Since an aging dog’s health can change quickly, it’s critical to bring them into vet every six months for wellness visits. Screenings including bloodwork, heartworm tests and fecal should be considered by your veterinarian. Again, your dog may be acting normal, but a vet visit is the only way to make sure an unseen health issue is found and addressed quickly.
2. Start Joint Support Now
Senior dogs are more prone to joint discomfort and dental issues. They are also prone to losing muscle mass and strength in their body from a process called sarcopenia. Often, the signs of these conditions coming on are subtle and difficult for owners to pick up on.
Start to support their joints with changes in the home like non-slip rugs in high traffic areas, keeping up with nail trims, and consistent low impact exercise. Golden Years Strength & Stability chews are a great addition to support the joints of senior dogs. This supplement contains glucosamine, Perna canaliculus (green-lipped mussel), and a proprietary form of amino acid L-carnitine to promote joint flexibility, comfort, and muscle integrity in senior dogs.
3. Look for Behavioral Changes
As our senior dogs get older, they will experience a lot of changes in their bodies. Many will have to accommodate to changes in their hearing and vision. Some dogs may even start showing signs of cognitive dysfunction. This can be startling to our dogs who don’t understand why they can’t hear or see things as well as they used to. Changes in their senses, pain, or other disease can even cause anxiety in dogs.
When you notice changes in your senior dog with regards to mental acuity, behavior, sight, or hearing, it is important to discuss them with your veterinarian as soon as they come up. A supplement specifically formulated to help promote mental alertness and calm behavior in senior dogs is Golden Years Calm & Confident. The active ingredients, including clinically proven Sharp-PS Green work together promote improved cognition and calm behavior in dogs. Golden Years Clear & Bright chews have a trio of antioxidants to support eye health and vision in aging dogs.
4. Keep Them Stimulated
Engaging activity and puzzles to stimulate your senior dog’s mind daily are great ways to promote confidence, and support cognition and life enjoyment. This can be done via dog food puzzles, games like hide and seek, and agility training sessions.
Be mindful of challenges they may have such as joint discomfort during these sessions and make sure they’re comfortable during mental enrichment activities. One tip is to place senior dogs on non-slip mats with a rubber back during food puzzles so they are less likely to slip or exacerbate injury.
Working with your veterinarian on supporting the health and happiness of your senior dog is so important. Every dog is unique, but taking a proactive approach to your senior dog’s health is the best way to keep them healthy and happy throughout their golden years!
Dr. Monica Tarantino is a small animal veterinarian with a focus on senior and geriatric pets, and a VetriScience VetriExpert. She works as a general practitioner and chief of staff at a clinic in the Charlotte, North Carolina area where you will find her managing sick dogs and cats, performing dentals, surgeries and preventative medicine. Dr. Tarantino is also creator of the Senior Dog Revolution Podcast which focuses on senior dog topics of health and happiness. When not at the clinic or promoting senior dog health through her podcast, Dr. Tarantino can be found hanging out with her fiancé and a gaggle of rescued animals. She owns four rescued dogs and two rescued cats with the occasional foster animal just to keep things lively! You can follow along with her veterinary journeys on @seniordogdoc or at seniordogrevolution.com