Caring for an Old Dog

An old dog will go through a number of changes and may be more vulnerable to diseases; there are also a number of diseases that are specific to old age. Your pet needs more attention and possibly a different diet. Help your dog enjoy his senior years by providing the care he needs.

Aging Symptoms

Dogs may be considered senior when they reach the age of 7 or 8; however, some giant breeds are senior as early as the age of 5.

Some of the most common aging symptoms include:

  • Slower movement
  • Gray hair
  • Joint pain
  • Less activity
  • Lack of appetite
  • Depression

These signs may also be accompanied by some old age diseases that need special care.

Old Age Diseases

The most common old age diseases in dogs are cancer, arthritis and tooth problems.

Tooth decay may occur in dogs as young as 3 years old. The dog may experience a lot of pain, red, swollen gums, periodontal disease, tartar and bad breath. Teeth problems can cause the dog to eat less or to swallow the food without chewing it, which can lead to digestive problems.

When the dog has bacterial infections in the mouth, the bacteria can easily enter the blood flow, affecting the internal organs.

While your groom your dog or brush his teeth, you should take some time to brush your pet’s teeth and inspect his mouth; see if the gums are red or swollen or if there is tartar. Visit a vet for a professional cleaning and possibly the removal of badly decayed teeth that cause a lot of pain.

Cancer is a malignant tumor that starts in one area of the body and spreads towards other areas through the blood flow. Malignant tumors may be removed, but they may reoccur.

A pet with cancer can be helped with radiation therapy, chemotherapy and extra care.

Arthritis is not a curable disease; the dog may have joint pain and the disease may also disable the dog from performing different activities. Pain killers can help relieving the discomfort.

Senior Dog Diet

The diet of your senior dog will be dictated by his health condition. Some diseases will require prescription food. Talk to your vet to get the right type of dog food.

Wet food is more recommended for senior dogs, as it is easier to digest and may also reduce the risk of developing liver and kidney disease.

As your dog becomes older, he will be less active, so you will need to modify the amount of calories he gets, to prevent obesity.

Supplements and antioxidants are important in a senior dog’s diet; the antioxidants maintain the dog’s brain and nervous tissues in good condition.

Your vet will recommend some immunity boosters, as older dogs have a weaker immunity.

Some of the old age dog diseases may be prevented. Daily teeth brushing as well as a regular exercise program can maintain your dog’s health for longer. Do some routine check-ups at least once per year, even if your dog seems to be in a great shape. Early detection can prevent diseases to become worse.