Dogs are wonderful creatures. They fill our lives with so much joy, entertainment, and love. The only bad part of being a dog owner is that your dog is not going to live as long as you will. Dealing with senior dogs is inevitable, and it isn't easy.
Regardless of how well-cared for and loved your dog is, they are going to age and they will have health issues associated with aging. Aging is a process that all dogs go through and it can be a smooth transition or a very difficult one, depending on how you manage it.
Understanding their needs and ensuring a better quality of life for senior dogs is imperative for any pet owner that wishes to keep their pet as happy and healthy as possible. There are several ways to keep senior dogs in good condition, and there are also many products on the market to help pet owners manage that task.
The life span of a dog is contingent on many things including his size and breed, weight, diet and exercise, and any genetic conditions or diseases that he may have.
It is impossible to say how long your pet will live, and every dog ages differently.
For example, a five-year-old Chihuahua may still have plenty of energy, while a five-year-old Saint Bernard may be beginning to show signs of aging already.
It is important for all dog owners to understand these signs of aging and how to help their dogs manage them in the best way possible. We'll discuss some of the most common signs and how you can help your senior dogs live a better quality life.
Senior Dogs Deserve a Better Quality of Life
As renowned author Stephen King once said, “Everything’s eventual.” Aging is no exception and there are several common discomforts that aging dogs have that come alongside growing older. Observing your dog regularly and knowing what to look for can help you catch any possible issues early. This will save your dog a lot of discomfort.
Signs of Aging in Senior Dogs
As dogs age, their calorie intake decreases and so does their energy. It is not uncommon for an older dog to begin to sleep more and appear less energetic. Older dogs, much like humans, also get gray hair when they get older (except they show it around their muzzle and eyes).
Callouses, foot pad issues, and osteoporosis are all other ways in which age catches up to senior dogs. Though some of these issues can be resolved through home care, the assistance of a veterinarian also is advisable. Sad as it is to watch your dog lose his spunk, it becomes even more necessary to ensure a good quality of life for him.
This quality of life can be provided through nutritional products, comfortable bedding, regular veterinary care, and changes to the daily routine. For example, older dogs, despite their increase in lethargy, need to move and exercise. Their exercise doesn’t have to be as intense as it was when they were younger. Gentle swimming and maybe a short walk a day are sufficient exercises that will greatly benefit your senior dogs overall health and wellness.
Below are some products listed that are available to senior dog owners is most pet stores. These dog products can help improve your pet’s quality of life. Be sure to check with your vet to verify that whatever you choose to purchase is appropriate for your dog. Once you’ve ascertained what your dog’s particular needs are, you’ll be able to shop around for ways to fulfill them.
Providing The Right Nutrition for Senior Dogs
When it comes to nutritional needs, dogs change the same way that humans do. One thing to consider is that most senior dogs do better with multiple small meals every day instead of just one or two large meals in the morning and at night. Feeding your dog smaller meals will also help to prevent bloat problems and other issues with digestion.
Dogs tend to gain weight as they get older as well, so they will need an increase in fiber and a decrease in fat in their dog food. Fiber promotes healthy anal gland function, a part of the body that becomes especially at-risk for ailments as your dog ages.
Changing your dog’s diet is a way to get more fiber—adding dog foods that are advertised with a high fiber content is an option—but you also may want to consider fiber supplements that are made specifically for canines. Virbac Vetasyl Fiber Capsules are an example of over-the-counter fiber supplements that will give your dog the boost he needs.
Constipation is also a big problem for older dogs, as are a lot of other ailments pertaining to digestion and waste production. The Virbac capsules contain 500mg of fiber and are not made with any preservatives, artificial colors or flavors, or anything else that could be harmful to feed your dog. In the interest of keeping your older dog’s weight down, these fiber supplements are great because they contain no sugar or salt either. In fact, these supplements could be good for any dog of any age struggling with constipation.
Before making any major changes to your pet's diet or adding any supplements into his daily nutrition, it is wise to have a conversation with your vet first. Different foods and supplements may have side effects or cause issues that you aren't aware of. Your vet will know the right nutritional plan for your specific dog based on his breed, weight, age, and health condition.
Skin and Coat Health in Senior Dogs
Another health problem older dogs suffer from is a thinning or dulling of their coat. They also may get dry skin and need extra grooming. Fatty acid supplements are one way you can help your senior dog's skin and coat health.
A well-rated fatty acid supplement is the MaxxiOmega Omega Oil for Dogs. It’s palatable and comes in a liquid form, with a bottle that has a pump in order to prevent a mess. Omega 3, which is one of the things the supplement consists of, is an anti-inflammatory and helps promote a glossy coat and healthy skin. Vitamins A, E, and D are also in this supplement, as well as biotin and Omega 9.
All of these vitamins and minerals provide the utmost health benefits for senior dogs. Best of all, MaxxiOmega’s capsules are tested and approved by the National Animal Supplement Council.
As your dog ages you may also begin to find bumps on his skin. Most of the time they are harmless, but be sure to take him to a vet if you think he may have a cyst or some sort of benign tumor. It is certainly better to be overly cautious in a case like this.
Providing a Top-Quality Bed for Senior Dogs
In order to help dogs experiencing calluses, arthritis, or other bone and joint issues, an extra comfortable bed should be provided. Older dogs are more likely to rest and be sitting for longer periods of time when compared to younger dogs.
In cases where a dog is contracting callouses or has joint/muscle pain, an orthopedic bed is a good idea. These types of dog beds lend extra support to your pet where they need it, especially in areas that require a gentle touch. The Oscar Orthopedic Dog Bed is specifically designed for both older dogs and those with arthritis.
A 42” x 30” x 4” square of water-resistant, heavy-duty microfiber fabric covers an orthopedic foam pad that comfortably sits even larger dogs. Dogs are able to relax all their joints and muscles without feeling stiff or uncomfortable on this bed. Providing a more comfortable bed will allow your senior dog to get the rest that he needs.
No matter what age your dog is, it is important to provide him with a bed for numerous reasons. For more specific information on dog beds and why your pet should have one, visit one of our columns devoted to pet bedding, including:
- Types of Dog Bedding: Mats, Beds, Pillows, and Sofas
- Bedtime Basics: Why Your Fido Needs a Dog Bed
- How to Choose the Best Pet Bed for Your Dog
- Top 5 Best Dog Beds That Last Forever
- Top Ten Best Dog Steps for Bed or Arthritis
What if the Problems are More Severe?
For larger problems, it is important that you see a vet regularly. Heart disease, decreased lung capacity, kidney problems, glandular breakdown, urinary incontinence, and other serious issues come with aging. Veterinarians are able to prescribe pain medication and other treatments that can help alleviate whatever discomfort your dog is going through.
Provide a better quality of life for older dogs by buying the right products for the right ailments. Dogs can grow old gracefully and it’s our responsibility as owners to ensure that they’re kept as comfortable as possible. Losing your dog is always an incredibly painful experience, but making their final time on earth as happy as possible is a small way to ease that pain for both of you.