Last modified on December 1st, 2022 at 9:19 am
There are few things in life more difficult than watching our furry friends grow old. Gone are the days of long rambling walks, chases around the garden, or fighting with toys. Life for them has slowed down considerably, now it’s made up of naps, naps, and more naps. It might also mean messy accidents and health problems that might require care and attention.
Still, a dog is for life, and you need to make sure that you’re prepared to take care of your four-legged friend thoughout their lives, and that means even when they get older and their health deteriorates.
Older dogs are more likely to face some health conditions, and they any existing health issues they have might become exacerbated as they age. So, you need to be watchful and take the time to support your pet as they get older.
While it might seem a little boring to us and like a lot of hard work, its our duty to ensure our dogs are comfortable in their twilight years. To help, we’ve put together a list of our top tips on how to look after an ageing dog and how you can help them deal with the changes they face.
Adapt Your Home
As a dog grows old, we need to adapt our house to their particular needs to ensure that they remain comfortable. The sofa might be too high to jump onto now, so consider buying, or even making, some steps for your friend to join you while you watch TV. You could also get them their own bed to keep in each room, so they always have somewhere comfortable to flop down when they want to relax. If you do install steps up to the sofa or their favourite chair, then take sure they are using the steps to get down too, because jumping from a height can be bad for an older dog. Steps can also be useful for getting in and out of the car, and up and down any outdoor steps. An old dog can be a stiff dog, so it’s important to ensure that they aren’t over-exerting themselves. Eating out of food bowls on the floor can strain an older dog’s neck, so it’s worth elevating their food and water bowls with either an elevated bowl or a frame. These adaptations will help your ageing pet to feel more comfortable and still enjoy the same activities they used to when they were younger.
Take Them For Regular Vet Checks
A dog’s health is always important, but especially so when they’re getting on in years. Older dogs are susceptible to a number of health issues, so it’s important to make more regular visits to the vet. Many older dogs develop sight and/or hearing difficulties, so be aware of these. Any changes could indicate something underlying, make sure to bring up any issues to your dog’s vet. Make sure that you visit the vet as soon as you notice any change in your pet’s health, so that you can catch any issues as soon as they arise and before they become more serious problems. This approach will then help you to reduce their suffering and keep them feeling healthy and happy for as long as you possibly can.
Take Out Pet Insurance
Vet bills don’t come cheap, you need to be prepared to be out of pocket if your dog requires any treatment. Insurance is vital if you want to avoid this, and the younger you insure a dog the better, as many companies won’t cover an older dog. If you already have an existing policy on your pet, then check if this covers them, and if it doesn’t, consider making a switch. Petsure offer lifetime dog insurance, which will put your mind at ease in the knowledge that your dog will be covered regardless of age. That will mean that your pet will be covered if there’s a serious health condition. Always make sure you read the terms and conditions of your policy to ensure that you know exactly what’s covered and what isn’t before you make a claim. You’ll then be able to ensure that you’re covered for a range of unexpected vet bills associated with your senior dog.
Go For Shorter Walks
While your elderly dog might think they’re still a puppy, its body will say otherwise. A dog’s energy levels and capabilities will decrease as they age, so consider shortening those epic journeys through the woods to a walk around the block or a brief, gentle amble in a quiet park. However, older dogs may need the toilet more frequently, so while your walks will get shorter, be prepared to go out more often, or to let them use the garden more regularly. If you regularly go on long hikes, consider leaving your senior dog at home, so they can rest and won’t get stressed on a long journey. If you want to take them, then think about carrying them if you can when they get too tired to walk. Forcing your senior pet to walk too far could cause them severe pain and ongoing health problems, so try to avoid it. For larger dogs that can’t be carried, try finding them a buggy, so that you can give them the opportunity to rest while still taking them on the adventures they love and involving them in family activities.
Prepare For Accidents
Even if you let your dog out to use the bathroom regularly and take them for a few short walks every day, you might still find that they have accidents. Their bodies are older and they’re not as fast, so they might not realise that they need to use the bathroom until they have to go immediately. So, make sure that you’re prepared to deal with any urine or faeces that might be left in your home by your pet. Consider keeping your pet out of any rooms that you want to remain clean and tidy. Also, for areas where your pet spends a lot of time, you can lay down hard floors that don’t absorb a lot of fluid and smells, such as tiles, and make your senior dog with towels and bedding. Buy a large supply of bedding and towels for your pet, so if something does get dirty by accident, you can wash it and have a spare handy.
Make Necessary Diet Changes
Dogs’ dietary needs can change as they age, so there could be some benefit to be had from switching your dog onto a food that is designed specifically for senior pets. Make any changes gradually so you don’t unsettle your dog, and pay attention to how much your dog is eating and drinking, as any changes may signal an underlying health issue. As well as thinking about your dog’s diet, it would help if you also considered how they eat, and making sure they have easy access to their food. Make sure their bowl is accessible and if you have other dogs in the house, particularly younger ones, make sure they are not eating your older dog’s food before he can get to it. You’ll then be able to ensure that your pet is always able to eat and enjoy a healthy and balanced diet.
Be Prepared For The End
Dogs can live up to around 15 years, but they will eventually die. It can be hard to deal with the passing of your furry friend, but as they get older you need to make sure that you’re prepared for the worst. When your dog does become too old and needs to be put down, you need to make sure that you’re there for them until the end. So, you should try to prepare emotionally for your pet’s passing and make sure that you give them the best end to their life as you possibly can. Plan to have their favourite foods ready for them, and make sure that they’re surrounded by the dogs and people they love when they die. It’s never easy saying goodbye to your precious pet, but you can prepare yourself and ensure that they have the best possible end to their lives.
As they get older, your dog will change, and you need to make sure that you’re prepared for every eventuality. Every dog is different, and the ageing process is never the same for each pet. Some dogs age gracefully, others need extra care in their later years. Make sure you are making changes based on the needs of your dog in particular, some may need little-to-no change, while some might need a dedicated level of care. It might take a lot of effort to keep your pet happy in their later life, but it will definitely be worth the hard work. Health issues and aging in general can cause lots of problems, so it’s important to be there for your dog when they need you the most; after all, they’d most probably do the same for you!