Remember dog year conversions: your dog will start to reach its later ages around age 7 (in dog years). that corresponds to an age of 44 to 56 (with 44 being for smaller dogs and 56 being for larger dogs).
After the age of 7 or 8, most dogs are starting to act like seniors in some way. With that in mind, here are 5 tips that will help you take care of your aging dog:
1) Understand What Happens As Your Dog Ages
Aging dogs are kind of like aging people. They aren’t as active anymore, often because they have aching joints, sore muscles, and poor strength.
They can also become more attached to their owners. They might want to spend more time immediately around you when you’re at home, for example, and can become more protective of you as they age.
Most dogs go through some type of mood change as they get older: some get grumpier, while others become extremely friendly and laidback. I guess the same can be said about humans, right?
2) Watch their Weight
As your dog’s joints become more painful, they’re inevitably going to slow down. They won’t move as much and certainly won’t run around like they did when they were a puppy.
Understandably, this can lead to doggy weight gain. Keep a close eye on your dog’s weight. Expect some weight gain, but keep it manageable. If you believe your dog’s weight is getting too high, then consider adjusting their food.
If your dog has always had an active lifestyle, but has gained some weight in old age, then that’s nothing to worry about: your dog is just getting older, and they’ll inevitably put on some weight.
One of the best ways to help manage an older dog’s weight is to buy dog food specifically designed for older dogs. Just like some dog food is designed for puppies, some dog food is designed for older dogs.
3) Keep Them Active
You might not be able to take your old dog on a run with you every morning, but you can’t just let them lie around the house all morning.
Keep your dog active without overworking them and possibly causing joint pain. They’ll live longer and have a happier, healthier life.
Instead of going for a run with your dog, go for a more brisk-paced walk. Or, take your dog with you to your next outdoor barbeque, where they can walk around at their own pace while still taking a break whenever they get tired. Throw the ball around a few times in your backyard.
Just make sure they get at least some form of exercise daily. An old dog that sits around all day will quickly become an old, fat, and unhealthy dog.
Dogs that don’t get enough exercise are also at an increased risk of cognitive problems. Just like older humans need mental stimulation, so too do older dogs.
4) Talk to your Vet About Senior Care
Senior dogs may need specialized veterinary care – including specific vaccinations, medications, and dietary supplements. Your vet knows your pet’s needs better than anyone, and they’ll be better able to recommend a senior care package that meets your dog’s needs.
Remember: a senior dog’s immune system is not as powerful as a younger dog. This can lead to an increased risk of disease and viruses as they get older.
Vets can also perform crucial checkups on senior pets, including exams to check for illnesses and cancers. Vets may also perform bloodwork or check for physical signs of various diseases.
5) Know When to Euthanize your Dog
It’s a tragedy of the world that dog lives are so much shorter than human lives. However, there comes a point where euthanizing your dog is the most compassionate thing you can do.
Avma.org recommends using the following quality of life score to know when it’s time to euthanize your pet:
Euthanizing a dog is never an easy decision (nor should it be). But it’s a part of life that every animal – including ourselves – needs to go through at some point. You have the opportunity to make your dog’s life as comfortable as possible towards the end.