Caring for Health Issues in Senior Dogs

Senior German ShepherdSenior dogs require different care than they did when they were younger. Just like people, as a dog ages, his body changes. A senior dog may develop arthritis or suffer from incontinence, for example.

Because of the physical changes a senior dog experiences, it is important for a pet owner to understand how to effectively deal with such issues to help his pup maintain a good quality of life.

How can you provide your aging dog with the care that he needs? Here are some tips that will allow you to ensure your pooch is happy and comfortable during his golden years.

Notice the Signs of Aging

The first and most important thing you can do to help your dog handle the issues that are associated with aging is to be aware of the signs of aging.

There are many signs that indicate a dog has reached his senior years. Some of the most common signs include:

  • Decreased mobility
  • Decreased appetite
  • Issues with incontinence
  • Vision loss
  • Dental health problems
  • Dry, itchy skin
  • Problems with hearing

Paying attention to your dog and taking note of these types of changes will allow you to give him the care that he needs.

Schedule Routine Visits with Your Veterinarian

Dogs need to be seen by a veterinarian regularly, no matter what age they are; however, routine vet visits are particularly important for maintaining the health and wellness of a senior dog.

Schedule yearly appointments with your vet if he is showing the signs of aging. Doing so will allow your vet to pinpoint any health issues that may be developing, which you may not be able to see yourself. For example, you may not be able to see the signs of heart disease, but your vet will.

If your dog is suffering any medical conditions as a result of aging, such as arthritis or diabetes, you may have to schedule vet visits more frequently. This will allow you to determine if the condition is progressing, and if so, enable you to learn how to provide the proper care and treatment that your pup needs.

Feed Your Dog a High Quality Diet

The nutritional changes of a senior dog are much different than the needs of a younger dog.

As a dog ages, his metabolism slows, which means he needs to consume less calories. Feeding your senior pitbull the same food you fed him when he was a puppy could lead to obesity, which can cause a host of medical problems. Speak to your vet to find out the specific dietary needs of your pup.

Exercise Oral Hygiene

Gum disease is a common issue for senior dogs. You can prevent the issues that are associated with gum disease by exercising proper oral hygiene with your pup. Brush his teeth, feed him treats that help to brush off plaque buildup and play with toys that do the same.

Exercise Your Older Dog

Exercise is so important for dogs. As your pup ages, however, he may not be as active as he once was. Allowing him to lay around all day can speed up the effects of aging. To ensure that your pup is getting the exercise he needs as he ages, tailor his exercise routine to his specific needs. If walking is an issue, take him on shorter, slower walks, for example.

Make Accommodations

If your senior dog is having ceratin difficulties, accommodate his needs. For example, if he having trouble jumping up on a couch, provide him with stairs; or, if he is having incontinence issues, make sure you take him outside more frequently.