As with people, dogs slow down with age. They may want to take less exercise and start to put on weight. Some dogs become friendlier, and want to spend more time with their owners while others become grumpier. Some become more anxious because they may not see or hear as well as they used to and are slower at getting away from danger.
What happens during ageing?
As the body slows down, it uses less energy, so the tendency to deposit fat is increased. It is the time of life when those little treats start to catch up! Some dogs lose weight due to poor digestion or illness (always consult your vet if your dog is losing weight). Other changes make your dog’s mouth drier and swallowing may become difficult.
The skin becomes less elastic, the coat loses its shine and white hairs may start to apear. Hearing and sight deteriorate, and your pet may become less efficient at remembering things. Sleep patterns often change, with some older pets becoming restless at night. The muscles and bones become weaker, and the immune system may not work as well, so your pet becomes less able to fight off infections, and there can be deterioration of the internal organs such as the heart, liver and kidney.
However, it is not all bad news. Improvements in medicine mean there are drugs available to help reduce some of the effects of old age. Age is not a reason to accept ill health, and even old dogs can lead happy, active lives.
You dog may become less agile and need help getting in and out of the car for example. You could invest in a ramp or set of steps to help larger dogs. PetShed have a range starting at £49.99
So when do dogs start to get old?
Middle age for most dogs is now generally considered to be above seven years of age. But there is considerable breed variation – bigger dogs age faster. Picking up changes in your pet quickly allows earlier treatment and may considerably improve your dog’s quality of life. Don't forget that older dog still need regular boosters for vaccinations, plus flea and worming treatments too.
Feeding the older dog
It is probably better to feed one of the many senior diets, as they are lower in calories and reduce the likelihood of weight gain.
If you dog finds it hard to bend down to eat, try using an elevated food bowl. Starting at just £9.99.
Is your dog a bit stiff in the mornings? Surely that is to be expected at his age?
Certainly joint function deteriorates with age, and arthritis is common. Weight control is vital and an exercise plan may help to alleviate symptoms. There are a variety of ‘Joint Care’ products on the market now. Ranging from those in foods and treats or specially formulated tablets or granules. Pop to PetShed for some free and impartial advice.
Feeling the cold more?
Why not invest in a nice new coat for your dog. Perhaps a waterproof one too? We have a new range in at PetShed, feel free to bring your dog in and take advantage of our free fitting advice.